LOS ANGELES — For decades, thousands of wrestling fans around North Texas would pack the Dallas Sportatorium to watch the Von Erich family fight off opponents from all over the country like the Fabulous Freebirds.
This beloved family didn't have a happy ending, however.
The promoter of World Class Championship Wrestling, Dallas' local wrestling territory from the '60s through the '80s, was Fritz Von Erich. He would live to see five of his six sons, some of whom were the star wrestlers of WCCW, die tragically.
Now, one of Dallas' greatest tragedies and one of wrestling's most famous cautionary tales is being adapted into a film by A24 and director Sean Durkin. And as Deadline broke Wednesday, Zac Efron will be starring in the film "The Iron Claw," named Fritz's legendary finishing hold used by many of his children.
As Deadline reports, the film will follow the rise and fall of the Von Erichs and their influence on wrestling from the '60s through to the present day. Although it is not yet known who Efron will be playing.
Fritz Von Erich, whose real name was Jack Adkisson, made a name for himself in the '50s and '60s as a heel – a villain, in wrestling terms – portraying a Nazi before he would later become known as the beloved patriarch of the Von Erich family. Three of his children became a star trio themselves, taking part in heated, raucous blood feuds with wrestling stars like Ric Flair and the Fabulous Freebirds.
But a wave of tragedy followed the fame and success of the Von Erichs. It began with Fritz's first son, Jack Adkisson Jr., died at the age of six after being shocked unconscious by an exposed wire and drowning in a puddle.
His later sons – Kevin, David, and Kerry Von Erich – would become the three most well-known of the Von Erich sons, with Kerry even winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Flair at one time.
But two of them would see early deaths. David died at 25 in 1984 while wrestling in Tokyo. There are conflicting reports on what caused the death but the U.S. Embassy's death report states he died of acute enteritis. Kerry would later die, as well, in 1993 after shooting himself on his father's ranch in Van Zandt County. His suicide came after two other Von Erich children's suicides – Mike Von Erich, who took a fatal dose of tranquilizers in 1987, and Chris Von Erich, who shot himself in the head in 1991.
Kevin is the sole surviving son of Fritz Von Erich and has two sons of his own, who are wrestlers themselves to this day. His sons, Marshall and Ross Von Erich, both wrestle in Major League Wrestling, where they are former tag team champions.
There is no release date set yet for "The Iron Claw."