January 10, 2010
Former WWF star Ludvig Borga dead at 47
By GREG OLIVER - Producer, SLAM! Wrestling
Finnish officials say that former politician, author, actor, boxer, mixed martial artist and pro wrestler Tony Halme -- "Ludvig Borga" in the WWF -- has been found dead in his Helsinki apartment. He was 47.
Police say no crime is suspected, but they gave no further details Sunday.
The 6-foot-6 Halme was a heavyweight boxer, pro wrestler and bodyguard in the U.S. before joining politics in Finland. He served in Finnish parliament in 2003-2007 for the small, radical True Finns Party.
As a professional boxer, Halme compiled a record of 13 wins (10 knockouts, 3 decisions) against 6 losses (5 knockouts, 1 disqualification), fighting in Finland, Denmark and the United States. After training for pro wrestling, he would debut in the short-lived Universal Wrestling Federation in 1990 as "The Viking."
In New Japan Pro Wrestling, from 1990-93, he was used in a variety of ways under his real name, including a boxing versus wrestling match, and a boxing versus karate bout. His biggest success came with Scott Norton as his tag team partner, winning the IWGP World Tag Team titles in November 1992, holding the titles for almost a month.
His biggest fame came as Ludvig Borga in the WWF, from mid-1993 to early 1994, entering the ring to the Finnish national anthem. Borga was given a heavy push initially, devastating opponents, including a squash of Marty Jannetty at SummerSlam 1993. He was also the one to end a lengthy winning streak compiled by Tatanka. At the 1993 Survivor Series, Borga was a part of the Foreign Fanatics (with Yokozuna, "Crush" Brian Adams, Ludvig Borga and Jacques Rougeau Jr.), taking on Lex Luger's All-Americans (with The Undertaker, Rick and Scott Steiner). It was the main event of the evening, and Luger was triumphant, eliminating Borga at the conclusion of the show.
An ankle injury derailed Borga's WWF career, however.
In 1997, he had a single mixed martial arts fight, at UFC 13, tapping out to Randy Couture's rear naked choke at the one minute mark.
Wrestling promoter Rick Bassman was a part of the team that got Halme to try MMA.
"One of the wrestlers I worked with was a 6'5", 300-pound Finnish monstrosity by the name of Tony Halme," Bassman wrote in an Orange County Register column. "Tony had a short yet successful run in the World Wrestling Federation (as it was known at the time) as "Ludvig Borga." Having also held the dubious title of Finnish Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Tony was at loose ends, looking for something to do. My notion of what a real fighter was in those days -- my pre-educated period -- was simple:
"Whoever looked the most intimidating was, in fact, the toughest.
"And, based on that criteria, Tony was undoubtedly the toughest man on the planet."
Over the years, Halme would take part in a number of films, both in North American and in Finland, including Die Hard: With a Vengeance and Death Match. He was also one of the featured performers on Gladiaattorit, the Finnish version of American Gladiators. He also wrote four books in Finnish.
The Finnish YLE news service described Halme's political leanings. "He was notorious for his outspoken opinions, served for one term as a Member of Parliament of the populist True Finns party, after winning a landslide of personal votes in the Parliamentary elections of 2003. In his campaign he put a special emphasis on opposition to more immigration."
In 2004, a court gave him a suspended sentence for firearms and drugs violations after he fired a gun at home while his wife was there. According to YLE, in October 2009, he was arrested for driving while under the influence of illegal drugs. Charges were still pending in the incident when he died.
-- with files from Canoe wire services
Greg Oliver has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985. His fifth book, SLAM! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle has just been released. The four previous books are Benoit: Wrestling with the Horror That Destroyed a Family and Crippled a Sport (with Steven Johnson, Heath McCoy and Irv Muchnick); The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels (with Steven Johnson); The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams (also with Johnson) and The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Canadians. Order them all from the SLAM! Wrestling Store. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.