Ric Flair is the most decorated world champion in history. The 16-time world champ (depending on what is counted as a title win) is known as the dirtiest player in the game. With his jet-flying, limousine-riding "Nature Boy" persona, he has headlined the sport for over a quarter of a century. His trademarked "Woooo!" can be heard by the fans whenever any wrestler chops another wrestler.
Ric Flair was born in 1949. Unfortunately, his birth name is not known due to a scandal at the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis. His adopted parents named him Richard Fliehr. In 1971, he was trained by Verne Gagne and debuted in the AWA in 1972. He went to wrestle for the Mid-Atlantic (NC) territory in 1974. In 1975, he was involved in a plane crash and broke his back in three places.
The Late '70s:
Ric Flair returned to the ring a few years later. He was a frequent U.S. title holder. That belt was the number one belt of the region. In those days, the regional belt was the most important belt in the area. Occasionally, the NWA World Champ would come to town and fight someone in the region. In addition, he won the NWA World Tag Team Championship on a few occasions with both Blackjack Mulligan and Greg Valentine as his partners.
The '80s - NWA World Champion and the Four Horsemen:
In 1981, Ric Flair beat Dusty Rhodes to become the NWA World Champion. As champion, Ric traveled to all the other territories to fight their best opponents. Ric would lose the belt on several occasions, but he would regain the belt back rather quickly. During this time, he formed the Four Horsemen. As the '80s continued, most of the territories were killed off due to the WWF expansion. By the end of the decade, Ted Turner bought the most powerful member of the NWA and later renamed it WCW.
Ric Flair joins the WWE:
The first few years of the Turner led company were marred by bad decisions. The worst one involved Ric Flair leaving WCW with the title belt. The belt appeared on WWE television until legal actions forced them to stop. Ric claimed to be the real world champion and his claim was proven true when he won the WWE title. Ric left a few years later when a new man took over WCW.
The Feud With Eric Bischoff:
Eric Bischoff was the new head of WCW and his relationship with Flair was fine for a while. Things soured after a few years and Flair wound up off TV for along time and was embroiled in legal action due to seeing his son Reid fight in an Amateur Wrestling Tournament instead of appearing at a show. For several years, those in charge of WCW went out of their way to destroy the legacy of Flair.
Return to the WWF:
When the WCW was sold to the WWE, Flair wasn't the same man anymore. According to his autobiography, he had lost confidence in his abilities due to the constant problems he faced in WCW. He credits Vince McMahon and Triple H with helping him to regain his confidence.
Triple H has made no secret in saying that Ric Flair was his favorite wrestler. In late 2002, the stable of Evolution was formed with Triple H as the leader. The concept was that Flair was the greatest of the last generation, Triple H was the greatest wrestler at the moment and the future of wrestling was Batista & Randy Orton. Even though Evolution has broken up, there is no doubt that Ric Flair will still be a main player in WWE.
Hall of Fame and Retirement:
At the end of 2006, Vince McMahon decreed that the next time Ric Flair lost a match that he would be forced to retire. Ric Flair lost his match at WrestleMania XXIV to Shawn Michaels. However, the night before being forced to retire, Ric became the first active wrestler to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In 2010, Ric Flair joined TNA Wrestling. While his role is mostly as a manager and adviser, he still steps into the ring on occasion.
The 16 World Title Wins:
9/17/81 St Louis, MO - Dusty Rhodes
11/24/83 Starrcade - Harley Race in a steel cage match
5/24/84 Japan - Kerry Von Erich
9/7/86 St. Louis, MO - Dusty Rhodes
11/26/87 Starrcade - Ron Garvin in a steel cage match
5/4/89 Wrestle War - Ricky Steamboat
1/11/91 East Rutherford, NJ - Sting
7/18/93 Clash of Champions 24 - Barry Windham
1/19/92 Royal Rumble - won the Rumble to win the vacant title
9/1/92 Hershey, PA - Randy Savage
12/27/93 Starrcade - Vader
12/27/95 Starrcade - Randy Savage
2/11/96 Superbrawl - Randy Savage in a steel cage match
3/14/99 Uncensored - Hulk Hogan in a first blood match
5/15/00 Nitro - Jeff Jarrett
5/29/00 Nitro - Kevin Nash
(Sources: Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac, Onlineworldofwrestling.com, & To Be the Man by Ric Flair)