Posted May 9th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team

“Big Bully” Gave Cancer A Fight It Never Expected

By Thomas Leturgey

Death had Nick Busick’s massive shoulders on the mat many times over the decades; however, “Big Bully” kept kicking out. Thomas Leturgey

By his own admission, a heart condition later diagnosed as chronic atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) could have fatally dropped the Weirton, West Virginia native in the center of the ring at any time. In a Weirton Daily Times article from April 17, 2013, Busick noted that his heart raced unnaturally around “60 percent” of the time he was in a WWF ring in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

If that weren’t enough, in 2005 during a heavy workout at a Weirton gymnasium, Busick collapsed and had to be revived by a defibrillator. In 2010, doctors spent eight hours remapping Busick’s heart. The bouts with A-Fib ceased. The longtime weightlifting strongman thought that was enough health issues for one career.

Then in 2015, while training for a Senior’s weight lifting tournament, Busick had a difficult time swallowing. On March 28, 2015, Busick and James J. Dillon were inducted into the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh. Busick joyfully accepted with Dillon, as well as his long-time idol, Dominic DeNucci at his side. Busick even managed Shane Starr against Dillon and Shawn Blanchard in the Main Event.

A few days later, he spit up blood so violently that Busick feared that he would “bleed out.” A doctor’s visit revealed Stage 4 esophageal cancer. The prognosis was grim, to everyone except Nick Busick.

Surgery and chemotherapy followed. Ignoring doctor’s edicts, Busick went back to the gym and posted weightlifting videos on social media. Health care professionals agreed that the determination and sheer will kept Busick moving forward.

Complications lead to renal failure and issues with his kidneys. When Busick wasn’t in bed, he was lifting weights and getting better. His remarkable tale was first detailed in a Pittsburgh Sporting News online piece in June, 2015. The piece was read by KDKA TV News Videographer L. David Colabine, who coincidentally met Busick while covering a sports feature on the KSWA. Colabine reached out to Busick and they set out to chronicle the journey.

The first feature on “Big Bully” and his battle against cancer earned Colabine a Golden Quill Award for Pittsburgh news excellence by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. A follow-up piece that aired late last year has been nominated for this year’s Golden Quill. It was also chosen as the regional winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award.

After being ruled “cancer free” in 2016, Busick returned to an adoring crowd at a Pittsburgh wrestling show. He took bookings as an inspirational speaker, and inducted Bill Apter into the KSWA Hall of Fame in December, 2016.

Busick continued on the path to success. He was excited to induct “The Fighting Cop From Carnegie,” Frank Holtz into the KSWA Hall of Fame in 2017. Both retired wrestlers were also retired police officers. Busick was a police officer in Weirton for 19 years before joining the ranks of world-traveling wrestler.

Later in 2017, Busick’s health quickly declined. An identical cancer that was in his throat was discovered in his brain. That meant another surgery and more chemotherapy. Like the first time, Busick said the treatments “nearly killed me.”

The scars and staples in his scalp did not deter Busick. Days after the surgery, he posted a picture on his Facebook page from an MMA fight, where he tirelessly supported his son, Branko. Busick’s passion for life was always as strong as his weightlifting.

On March 24, Busick missed his first Joe Abby Memorial Tournament and Hall of Fame Night in Pittsburgh in several years. He sent the text: “I was hoping I would make it tonight, unfortunately the cancer radiation treatment has got the best of me. Plz tell all hello, especially Dominic. I apologize for not coming. I hope I get my health back so I could make it. Nick (Bully)

In a follow up text on April 25, Busick texted that he was taking it “one day at a time.” The text featured a number of emojis (Busick used them a lot).

Busick did not submit to cancer on May 8, 2018. He just ran out of time.

“He was a great man who stared at his own mortality and fought to live as long as he could for his family,” noted L. David Colabine in a text. “It was my honor to know him.”

Upon hearing the news, sometime foe, long-time friend and one-time business associate Bill Eadie messaged: “Terrible news. This saddens me. Nick was such a good man. To have gone through what he had to endure is overwhelming. He is going to be missed by many.”

Pittsburgh wrestler Shawn Blanchard shared the ring with Busick in 2015, as well as the very last Main Event in the history of the “Deaf Wrestlefest” fundraisers back in 2012. “Nick was a world-class person who would go out of his way to help anybody,” said Blanchard. “He was a credit to the wrestling, powerlifting, and fitness industries.”

Pittsburgh wrestler Lou Martin was also featured in the Deaf Wrestlefest Main Event. “Mr. Busick was such a great person and the fight he put up against his cancer diagnosis was truly inspiring. He was genuine and I am honored to have met him.”

Bobby O, the owner of the KSWA, noted, “It was an honor to meet Nick. His in-ring moniker of “the Big Bully” was the complete opposite of the man who was a true gentleman. He will be missed.”

He is survived by his loving wife and soulmate of 32 years, Lorie Busick as well a daughter, two sons (their spouses) and three grandchildren. Friends will be received from 3-8 PM on Friday, May 11, 2018 at the Everhart-Bove Funeral Home, 685 Canton Rd., Wintersville, West Virginia. Pomen service Friday at 7:30 PM. Additional visitation will be held on Saturday at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Eastern Orthodox Church from 10 am until time of service at 11 am with Very Rev. Rade Merick officiating. Burial will follow at the Serbian Cemetery, Weirton, WV.

Nick Busick was 63.

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