Finding refuge, with family

Before moving to Kauai, retired professional wrestler Kevin Adkisson would lay in his bed in Dallas, Texas, and feel himself growing old.

“I wanted to get out. I wanted to change my scenery bad,” said the 59-year-old Adkisson. “But here, my heart rang like a bell.”

Adkisson is known in the professional wrestling world as Kevin Von Erich of the famous Von Erich wrestling family out of Texas.

The Von Erichs were inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2009, where Kevin represented his family.

His story is one most wrestling fans know: Adkisson is the last surviving son of the late Fritz Von Erich, a wrestling promoter of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory in Dallas.

Tragically, five of Kevin’s brothers — four of whom were professional wrestlers — died at young ages. Three of his brothers — Mike, Chris and Kerry — committed suicide.

“I really thought I lost my ability to enjoy things,” he told The Garden Island. “It was pretty bad. I lost a lot of brothers.”

But then the father of four and grandfather to over a dozen children settled on Kauai with his wife and entire family, and found refuge and solace on 27 acres of Kapahi land.

“After what I been through, losing my family, to me I learned the hard way. That is the most important thing in life: family,” he said. “Family is what it’s all about.”

Kristen Nikolas, Adkisson’s oldest daughter, wasn’t crazy at first about transitioning to Kauai, as she thought Oahu would be more comfortable.

But all that is in the past, and Nikolas lives in one of five houses on the property with her family.

“Personally, people (on Kauai) do love kids,” she said. “They’re just really caring. It’s all genuine. I just love that it’s a close community.”

The Adkissons moved to Kauai in 2007, according to family matriarch, Pam.

On Kauai, Kevin’s routine every morning consists of feeding his over 70 ducks, dozens of tilapia, sheep and turkey.

In Texas, “I was lower than yesterday’s rain,” he said. “When I thought there was no lifting up for me, it wasn’t so. Here we are, and this is the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Kevin’s sons Ross and and Marshall attended school on Kauai and got the taste of the island life.

Ross spent half a semester at Kauai Christian Academy his senior year, while Marshall attended Island School his freshman year and Kapaa High School for the remainder of high school, where he played football and threw discus.

Though they didn’t know their uncles, Marshall said he and his brother had a good parents to teach them the importance of ohana.

“My brother and I, we had the conviction in our heart to be the uncles we never had,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of dads on this property. I love every single child here.”

Their mother Pam added: “One of the great things about being here is they get to be with their nieces and nephews.”

Ross and Marshall followed in their father’s footsteps and entered the professional wrestling business in 2012.

“We went to a wrestling school and two Japanese wrestling scouts told us we looked like the Von Erich brothers,” he said. “I told them ‘My father’s Kevin.’”

From there, the brothers trained hard, made it big and are continuing the Von Erich tradition.

“We’ll leave every two or three months (for work). The most difficult part is keeping your hands busy while we’re (on Kauai),” Marshall said. “We do roofing, landscaping. You gotta stay busy or you’ll go crazy.”

For Kevin, it’s come full circle.

As a teenager, he wrestled on the Garden Isle on the Eastside.

“This is where I really got started,” he said. “We were at the Coconut Marketplace, I believe it was. We used to wrestle by KGMB, that was our studio wrestling.”

Though the past cannot escape him, Adkisson says he’s never been happier.

“Family is what works for us,” he said. “Everyone is with me. We put everyone first. It’s the right way to live.”

3 Comments
  1. Kevin Higgins September 2, 2018 3:38 pm Reply

    Kevin, I was a big fan of you guys when I lived in the Pleasant Grove/Mesquite area in the early ’80’s…the Von Erich brothers were an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
    You’ve endured more loss than any one person should ever have to experience and deal with in one lifetime, without a doubt. I’m truly glad you’ve been able to find peace.
    God bless you and your family, my brother.


  2. Shannon Laughlin May 7, 2020 8:38 am Reply

    Kevin, just wanted to say I have loved you and your brothers since I was a little girl. Kerry was my first pin up crush. I am addicted to professional wrestling, still watch WWE today. Going for my PhD I wanted to do a study on brain injury in sports but that part of my journey was put on hold, I am done with my PhD, just need to do a dissertation and was thinking about wrestling, the drugs, the horror stories behind the scenes, the injuries, everything and really would love to study the Von Erich Dynasty. I have such great respect for you, well all of you, but you, well you were and still are the strongest of the group and to see your beautiful family makes many of us smile!!! Enjoy life great one.


  3. Michael Sine September 26, 2021 6:45 pm Reply

    I am a huge fan of the Von Erichs. I have some crafts made for Kevin, that comes from the heart but don’t know where to send them. Kevin would really love them.


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