Professional wrestling is not a sport for the faint of heart. Much like other combat sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts, pro wrestlers legitimately risk their lives on a nightly basis to entertain the masses. As a result, even the strongest athletes and most proficient wrestlers are prone to accidents, which can oftentimes have fatal consequences.

Premature death has long been a problem in the industry, however, many early deaths in pro wrestling can be chalked up to drugs and health issues stemming from a prolonged career in the ring. On a less frequent basis, one misstep can result in a wrestler losing their life in the ring, whether the fault lies squarely on themselves or their opponent. Emergency health events can also lead to disaster as, unlike most other athletes, many wrestlers will compete past their 50s, when health events such as strokes and heart attacks are more frequent.

Here are 21 pro wrestlers who passed away in the ring.

Perro Aguayo Jr.

Perro Aguayo Jr. was one of the most high-profile wrestlers to pass away in the ring in nearly a decade at the time of his death. As the son of the original "Perro Aguayo," the man known as Pedro Aguayo Ramírez outside the ring debuted as a 15-year-old in 1995 and frequently teamed with his father. He competed in AAA for eight years, then left for the rival Mexican promotion, CMLL. He wrestled for CMLL until 2008, then returned home to AAA for the final seven years of his career. He also received Wrestling Observer Rookie of the Year and ranked as high as eighth in the 2007 edition of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500, second among Mexican wrestlers.

Aguayo wrestled his final match on March 20, 2015, a tag team match where he and Manik (TJ Perkins) took on Rey Mysterio Jr. and Xtreme Tiger for The Crash promotion in Tijuana. According to Mysterio in his A&E Biography, Aguayo was to end up in position for Mysterio’s finishing sequence, the 619, but instead of getting caught up in the ropes, went through the ropes and down to the floor below. Still, Aguayo ended up properly placed for the 619, but Mysterio missed him when he wound up slouched over the ropes. When Konnan, who was in attendance that night, went to wake Aguayo up, the 35-year-old did not respond. He was pronounced dead at the Del Prado hospital, and found to have died from cervical spine trauma caused by Mysterio’s dropkick. Upon landing in the ring ropes, the whiplash from the action snapped his neck and autopsy results showed Aguayo broke his C-1, C-2, and C-3 vertebrae, dying almost immediately as a result of a cardiac arrest due to a cervical stroke caused by the fractured vertebrae.

"We lost the biggest superstar that Mexico has ever seen," Mysterio told Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated. "There were so many plans moving forward that would have been incredible. When I meet great people in this industry, I like to let them know they are great human beings. Perro was definitely one of them. He was so warm-hearted, kind, and respectful. Just like there will never be another Eddie, there will never be another Perro."

Silver King

Silver King, a distinguished luchador known for his work both north and south of the border, died in the ring at 51 years old. Silver King grew up as the son of a high-profile wrestler, Dr. Wagner, putting him on a lifelong collision course with the pro wrestling industry. He made his debut in 1985, formed a tag team known as Los Cowboys alongside El Texano after losing his mask in 1990, then went to work for WCW for four years between 1997 and 2000. While in WCW, Silver King retained his cowboy character and competed regularly in the company’s cruiserweight division. After WCW closed its doors, Silver King became the third wrestler to portray the Black Tiger character in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Later, he wrestled for AJPW, AAA, and even starred opposite Jack Black in the 2006 comedy "Nacho Libre."

While wrestling familiar foe Juventud Guerrera in London, England on May 15, 2019, Silver King collapsed in the ring and died. The autopsy confirmed Silver King, real name César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, died of a sudden myocardial infarction, a type of heart attack. A tribute show for Silver King was held on May 22, 2019.