I was lucky enough to recieve a phone call from my hero Ric Flair (for the record, Flair, Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are the only three I put in the “hero” category) on my 30th birthday thanks to some finagling by friends, including the Post & Courier’s Mike Mooneyham. It only seemed appropriate to note and celebrate the Nature Boy’s 60th birthday – the greatest professional wrestler of all time. From The Charlotte Observer:

“The Nature Boy turns 60 today.

“Can you believe it?” asks Flair.

I can’t.

Does this mean you are now the Nature Man?

“Does that mean I’m going to grow up anytime soon?” asks Flair. “I feel like I’m 25. That’s the problem.”

The problem is to feel 60 when you’re 25.

“I don’t feel any different,” Flair says when he returns, almost everybody in the restaurant watching him. “Sixty doesn’t bother me. Fifty didn’t bother me. Forty did because somebody told me I’d have to stop wrestling.”

Here is what 60 looks like.

Flair’s face is tan, his hair is blond and he’s in shape. He weighed 232 pounds when he wrestled his last match, and on Tuesday he weighs, pre-cake, 233. He works out at least four days a week and bench presses 300 pounds. He wrestles with his kids, David and Reid. It’s not, however, like horsing around with your kids in the living room and letting them jump onto your back from the top of the sofa. David and Reid wrestle professionally.

Flair has four children, three grandchildren and a deep sense of peace.

The only other athlete/icon I’ve encountered who so willingly embraces fans and signs autographs is Richard Petty.

Flair is not introspective. He won’t wake up this morning and look back. He admits he could have made better decisions and saved more money.

“But what would I do with it?” he asks. “At the end of the day, I’m the happiest man alive.”

Ever tempted to lie about your age? “Never,” says Flair. “Isn’t that funny? I’m at ease being myself. I never had to be anyone else.”

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