Former WWF Wrestler Tony Atlas’s Fourth Wife Saved His Life
In his prime, Tony Atlas was a beast of a wrestler. A former bodybuilder turned World Tag Team Champion, Atlas joined the WWE in the early 80s and quickly shot to fame. Having earned the title of MR. USA, a bodybuilding competition, even Vince McMahon was a fan of the African-American wrestler's domineering physique. Atlas did live up to the McMahon family's expectation back in the day as he even toppled the great Hulk Hogan via pinfall -- a significant achievement for any wrestler.
However, Atlas's successful stint as a wrestler was punctuated by his fall from grace as the 'Black Superman' descended from the heights of fame to addiction, relationship failures, and deteriorating performance. The divorce and a downward spiraling career lent him a severe blow, even rendering him homeless. Luckily for him, he has pulled back up thanks to a lovely German woman who later became his wife.
Tony Atlas Succumbed To Drug Abuse And Excessive Partying
In his interview with The Hannibal TV, Tony Atlas opened up about his childhood and the struggles he encountered growing up. His mother, Beatrice James White, was the sole bread earner for his family, who struggled even to feed her children one meal per day. Brought up in a poor household, Tony worked extremely hard to turn his life upside down as a wrestler.
Nonetheless, his otherwise rags to riches story became one of downfall as Tony increasingly fell into the whirlpool of drug abuse and partying. In his book Altas - Too Much Too Soon, he critically explores his life's decision and writes about falling to easily-available sex, money, and drugs leading him to a self-destructive path.
After getting introduced to cocaine in the early 80s, right after wrestling for then WWF, Atlas's passion for wrestling changed and instead became consumed with partying and drugs. While promoting his autobiography, Tony told Slam Wrestling:
“Now the only thing I was thinking about was partying. And the only reason I was wrestling at that time was to get money so I could go party. This went on from 1981 to almost 1983.”
As a result, of continuous drug use, his performance started deteriorating, money started dwindling, and opportunities decreased. After losing major opportunities, he was out of the major leagues. He competed in AWA, World Class, and the WWC in Puerto Rico to pay his bills. This gig also ended when he witnessed the brutal murder of Bruiser Brody.
As it turned out, at the time, he was also in the midst of a divorce with ex-wife Lisa. In the trial, she got to keep the house. Half of his money went to legal fees and settlement, whereas the Internal Revenue took the other half. Like adding salt to the wound, he had given some money to a friend for safekeeping. But they ran away with it, all of which he recounts in his long interview with The Hannibal TV.
Just like that, he was without work and penniless. Fortunately, as Tony says in the interview, Mario Savoldi had a company, ICW, in Maine, who put him on a contract of $1,000 a week. Hence, Tony worked with Mario for about a year. However, Mario went out of business, leaving Atlas jobless, and shortly after, he ended up homeless.
Tony’s Fourth Wife Saved His Life
With no way to contact anyone, Atlas was entirely out of the loop. Being homeless, he ended up sleeping at random places and ate out of McDonald's dumpsters. He spent a year and a half living like that. The once 250-pound muscular wrestler has shrunk to a mere 195 pounds.
According to Ring The Damn Bell, a nostalgia-inducing blog on the world of wrestling, one day, a woman from Germany saw Tony sleeping under a bench while walking home. She went over to him and asked him if he wanted a place to stay. But Atlas just told her off. Monika DeRanek left that day but came back with her daughter. To his surprise, they started chiseling ice from his body. His right side froze during the night. Tony was not aware of it because he had four pairs of pants and five shirts on. After freeing him from the ice, the mother-daughter duo took him to their house. However, when Atlas was in the shower, as soon as the warm water hit him, he went into shock. Monika called the ambulance, and they took him to the hospital. He came to his senses in the hospital bed while the doctor and Monika were talking. The doctor told her that Tony got extremely lucky. Because if she had not taken him in, he would have died.
Atlas's Wife Monika's Health Scare
After getting better, Monika gave Tony a place to stay with her. Soon after, Tony started going back to the gym. There he met a policeman who gave him Vince McMahon's contact number. McMahon was looking for Tony ever since Tony left work with Mario. He had a specific plan for Tony and made him Saba Simba.
Finally, after two years of struggle, Tony got back on his feet. Bouncing back on his career, in 2006, he achieved the highest honor in sports entertainment -- induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
To return the favor to Monika, he sent her $500 each month. Eventually, Atlas finished wrestling and went back to her. He found out that Monika had been saving the money he sent her. She persuaded him to get certified as a personal trainer with the saved up money. So, with that, he went to school, became a certified personal trainer, and then married her. She became his fourth wife, and they have been married for more than three decades now.
However, the couple found themselves in peril when Monika had a stroke and needed hospitalization, as he says in a conversation with Boston Wrestling MWF in June 2019. As reported, Tony's wife lost her job and income. At the same time, Atlas lost his job as, personal trainer due to COVID-19.
This tweet implies that she was still hospitalized at the time of the tweet, i.e., June 25, 2020, even after one year since being hospitalized.
It isn't clear as to how the duo is currently coping now as Tyson's social media handles are silent on the issue, although he has been sharing his appearances on Twitter with Boston Wrestling MWF.