Kevin Von Erich on His Family’s Unique Connection to Israel

The original WCCW wrestling championship belt held by Kerry and Kevin Von Erich was found in a Tel Aviv shopping mall. While it may seem odd that a belt with such history would be found in an unexpected place like this, there is much more to the story!

Kevin Von Erich reached out to us to explain the special bond he and his family had with The Holy Land and why he wrestled his final match there in 2017.

Kevin and Kerry Von Erich with the coveted WCCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Kevin and Kerry Von Erich with the coveted WCCW World Heavyweight Championship.

The Special Relationship Between The Von Erich Family and The Holy Land

Reddit user, Yuval Sneh, shared a photo of an original World Class Championship Wrestling belt he came across while shopping in Tel Aviv.

The inscription alongside the belt read: "The original WCCW wrestling championship belt held by legendary wrestlers Kerry and Kevin Von Erich. Was given to Dizengoff Center for safekeeping with love by the family."

Here we have a championship belt with an incredible history behind it on display in Tel Aviv. While it may seem odd that the belt would be found in an unexpected place like this, there is much more to the story.

In April 1985, Kevin visited Tel Aviv alone and was met with tremendous fanfare. A few months later, he and his brother Mike ventured out that way again.

In recognition of this momentous visit, WCCW created a Middle Eastern Championship, which Mike Von Erich won by defeating Gino Hernandez on August 7th, 1985.

The original Kevin Von Erich WCCW Championship belt, on permanent display at the Dizengoff Center mall, Tel Aviv. (photo: /u/DieselCorps on Reddit)
An original Von Erich WCCW Championship belt, on permanent display at the Dizengoff Center mall, Tel Aviv. (photo: Yuval Sneh)

The Popularity of Wrestling in Israel

Reaching out to us privately after we shared the above photo on our Twitter account, Kevin described why The Holy Land holds such a special place in his heart.

"Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres told me in 1995 that the only dependable ceasefire was when wrestling was on. In April of 1985, I went alone out there for two weeks. I was shocked!"

Kevin continued, "I have seen big crowds before, but this was off the charts — all commercial trade was stopped my first day in all of Tel Aviv. They made me rearrange my itinerary so all other cities would be ‘unannounced.’

"It was still packed everywhere I went. The military took over my security with Jeeps in front and back; they called me ‘Their Cultural Icon of the ’80s.’"

Regarding the WCCW Middle Eastern Championship, Kevin Von Erich explained, "Mike won the Middle East title. Mike loved them like I did, too."

As for the Texas Tornado, "Kerry wasn’t into history really, not as much as Mike and I were. Mike and I were very close."

The Final Ever Match of Kevin Von Erich

On July 9th, 2017, Kevin Von Erich returned to The Holy Land, wrestling in his final match with his sons, Ross and Marshall, alongside him. He wrestled against the founder of IWPA- Rabbi Swissa (Gery Roif), Marty Jannetty, and Jumping Lee.

With more than 1,000 fans in attendance, this was the biggest wrestling event out there since WWE visited in 1994.

Kevin Von Erich just before his final ever match at IPWA in Tel Aviv on July 9th, 2017.
Kevin Von Erich just before his final match at IPWA in Tel Aviv on July 9th, 2017.

Kevin recounts this experience fondly.

"It was incredible how they treated my family last July [2017]. They have not forgotten a thing, and my sons are loved by all. I love those people there; it’s an awesome place.

“This wrestling business put me in a position to be a positive force to God’s chosen people.

"I have a special relationship with them, as I have and will never take money from them. Even with my huge deal with Coca-Cola in 1985, I only took my expenses and never profited from The Holy Land. I have never told anyone that!"

Professional wrestling has a beautiful way of dissolving enemy lines, bringing everyone together. We are very grateful to Kevin for sharing his story and for allowing us the opportunity to share it with our readers.

In closing, Kevin reflects on his life and thanks us for allowing us to be a platform to share his memories.

"Thank you for the encouragement. One day I want to be able to say: I did my best, God gave me the athletic ability, I want to use it wisely, make a difference, to ‘do the right thing’ or to show what I have learned.

“Not to be a pop off, but to remember that Jesus acted as a servant like I want to be."

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.