As a legendary heel in the violent world of professional wrestling, James “Jimmy Rave” Guffey got used to broken bones and boos.
“If you don’t wrestle, you don’t get paid,” he said last week. “So wrestlers tough it out.”
When a nasty infection in the Bensalem resident’s arm began to flare up, he toughed that out, too, until he could see his bone.
“I have a high threshold for pain. I’ve wrestled with a fractured jaw, had my nose reconstructed,” he said. “This arm thing was the worst.”
Guffey, 36, went to the doctor before Thanksgiving, was diagnosed with a type of flesh-eating infection, and quickly had his left arm amputated at Doylestown Hospital. Doctors, Guffey said, feared the infection would travel through his bloodstream and into his heart.
“It all started with a cut,” he said, describing it as minor.
Guffey competed mostly in Philadelphia’s infamous Combat Zone Wrestling, a small professional wrestling promotion known for “ultraviolent” matches, and was training wrestlers at its facility in Gloucester Township, Camden County. He made an emotional retirement announcement on Twitter last week, a post that’s had 5,200 likes.
“I appreciate everyone who has supported me or anyone who has pegged me with a roll of toilet paper,” wrote Guffey, referring to the favorite missile that spectators hurl at villains.
Wrestling as the heel, the bad guy, is lonelier than being the hero, particularly if the fans take it too seriously. Once, Guffey said, an elderly woman in the audience Tased him. “That was pretty wild. She must have brought it with her,” he said.
Regardless, Guffey’s had an outpouring of support from fans, wrestlers he worked with and others he trained. A GoFundMe account for him is approaching $7,500 in donations.
Tyrone Michael Scott, an former CZW president who went by “Maven Dentley,” said, “Our fans know he had a character, but that he’s a real person and needs help.”
Scott said the CZW would likely honor Guffey in some way, after COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Guffey, who grew up in Georgia and wrestled for over two decades, said he’d like to get back to training, and his fiancee. He was set to be released from the hospital on Thursday but was diagnosed with COVID-19.
“So two more weeks of this,” he wrote on Twitter.