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Wrestling tag team member 'Hawk' dies at 45

Published October 21, 2003

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Wrestling had taken them to the far corners of the globe - Australia, Japan, Korea and every corner of the United States.

For two decades, the world knew them as "Hawk" and "Animal," the Road Warriors. Huge men with wild haircuts, bright red face paint, biker boots and spiked shoulder pads. Tag team wrestling legends.

Now the team will live only in fans' memories. Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand, 45, died in his sleep at his home in Indian Rocks Beach early Sunday (Oct. 19, 2003), friends and family said.

"I'm still numb and in shock and disbelief," Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis said from his home in Minnesota. "Hawk was a great, quality guy. He lived his life to the fullest. He was like a brother to me."

Friends said Mr. Hegstrand and his wife, Dale, had recently bought a condominium near their current home and were packing boxes Saturday evening.

Mr. Hegstrand said he felt tired and went to take a nap. When his wife checked on him about 1 a.m., he was dead, they said.

A cause had not been determined Monday.

Dale Hegstrand, 38, declined to comment Monday. She said no funeral plans had been made.

The Road Warriors had grown older, but they remained active.

Already this year they had wrestled in Japan and entertained soldiers in South Korea. They were featured on a video game: Legends of Wrestling.

They were scheduled in coming weeks to perform in Indiana, Georgia and Michigan. Now Laurinaitis is left without his other half, the Animal without the Hawk.

"Our gimmick is a lot like peanut butter and jelly - one can't go without the other," he said.

"He'll never be replaced. I'll never have another partner in this business and call him a Road Warrior."

[Last modified October 21, 2003, 08:30:12]

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