David Gann Remembered, 1971-2018

There’s small chance you know who David Gann was, so it’s my privilege to tell you about him.

On a night when 350+ people paid to see a small indy show in Munford, Alabama, PWS writer Bobby Mathews got to spend a few moments with David Gann, appreciating just how far wrestling in Alabama had come.
On a night when 350+ people paid to see a small indy show in Munford, Alabama, PWS writer Bobby Mathews got to spend a few moments with David Gann, appreciating just how far wrestling in Alabama had come.

David Gann wrestled for a while under a hood as one of the Assassins on the indies in north Alabama. But his body broke down as health issues–unrelated to wrestling–began to surface. By the time I met him, he used a motorized wheelchair to get around.

Even though he couldn’t perform in the ring anymore, David loved the wrestling business. He loved being around the boys. He loved being in the building before the show, before the fans came streaming through the doors. I got lucky enough to talk wrestling with him before and after shows. He and his wife, Ashley, and his daughter, Naomi, would spend hours hanging out afterward if you’d let them. You could see how much Ashley and Naomi loved David, and how they understood that the wrestling business was simply something that was in David’s soul.

I want to say that they encouraged him to stay involved with wrestling, but the truth is that I’m not sure they could have stopped him.

David still had a place in the business that he loved. He sold tickets and counted the paying customers who came through the doors for Southern Legacy Wrestling. If he couldn’t be in the ring, he could still be at the shows. He could still be a part.

And I have to point out that he was a Tennessee fan, wearing that "orange you can’t sit with" at every show. I teased him about it every time I saw him. (Tennessee and Alabama are rivals in college football, and the Crimson Tide is on an 11-game winning streak against the Volunteers.) He took my teasing in stride, and I’ll be honest with you: David had a great attitude. I never saw him angry, never saw him in a bad mood.

David Gann in happier times.
David Gann in happier times.

One of my favorite memories of him: One of my usual jobs is to go get the count–the number of people who have paid for a ticket. On July 7 of this year, I ran out to the ticket table to get the count. David used one of those little clicker-counters to record every person who came in the door. He showed it to me with something like awe in his eyes. The number: 352. It was the largest show SLW had done in its history up until that point, and it still stands as the largest paid show. We were both blown away, and we took a minute there at the door to look at the crowd and appreciate what was happening.

I’m glad I got to share a moment like that with him.

He was reliable, a presence at every show. He could be trusted. Whenever I saw David working at the ticket table, I made sure to go say hello. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked to. When you’re working on a show, there are a thousand little things to do, and everyone who works on an indie card gets pulled in several directions at once. That’s not an excuse. But David was my age–almost exactly–so I thought there would be more time.

There wasn’t.

David went into Gadsden Regional Hospital on September 17 with an arrhythmic heartbeat. Soon, he was moved from the ER to ICU and placed on a ventilator. For more than a month, he fought. In the end, David succumbed to his illness. He died on October 24, 2018.

He wasn’t a famous name. He wasn’t any kind of star. But he was one of us. He was family. At our Nov. 3 TV taping, Southern Legacy Wrestling will be donating ticket sales from the event to help defray the cost of David’s medical and funeral expenses, and the boys are working for free on that show. We’re a family promotion in more ways than one: when tough times hit, families come together to weather the storm. I hope we’ll be some small help to Ashley and Naomi, as well as David’s other children.

I can’t tell you whether David Gann was a good wrestler. I can tell you something more important: He was a good man, a good husband, and a good father. It breaks my heart that he’s gone. Rest in peace, my friend.

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Bobby Mathews is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories as well as a veteran journalist whose byline has appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Birmingham News, The Denver Post, as well as other newspapers around the country. He's won multiple awards for reporting and opinion writing, and his sports journalism has garnered several Associated Press Managing Editors Awards. He has covered Division I college athletics and professional sports including MLB and NFL games. He has won awards from press associations in several states, including a General Excellence award from the Georgia Press Association while sports editor at The Statesboro Herald. He currently lives in suburban Birmingham, Alabama and can be reached on Twitter @bamawriter.