Sad news hit the wrestling world this afternoon. On a blog posted on the Chikara website, Sugar Dunkerton announced that he'd be taking some time away from the company, and from the sound of it, the business as a whole.
While Sugar D isn't as famous as some of the others being profiled during Kevin and Chad's Black History Month series, he's a man who has touched the fans of nearly every fan who has seen his work.
Sugar had been a staple of the Southeast independent scene before making his way to Chikara as the Throwbacks partner of Dasher Hatfield.
From the beginning, the two had instant chemistry and put on entertaining matches at every turn. Not every Throwbacks match would be awarded five stars by Dave Meltzer, but each one brought its own laughs.
A personal favorite memory will always be Dunkerton and Osaka Pro's Atsushi Kotoge having a high-speed race between the ropes at King of Trios.
The past year, though, Sugar had been breaking out of the mold. Like many on the Chikara roster, he'd been inaccurately singled out by many fans and "critics" as just another comedy wrestler.
But with appearances in Beyond Wrestling and Dragon Gate USA, Sugar showed his serious side to the world. Not only could he entertain like no other, but he could also go with the best of them in the ring.
Tragedy struck last year when a close friend of Sugar took her own life, leading him to reaching out to fans and others to create a support network called Do It For Britney.
Sugar showed his heart and soul through that project, as well as every meeting he had with fans. I met Sugar at "The Case of the Bulletproof Waldo," a Chikara show in Chicago in June 2011. Like everyone else on the roster, he went out of his way to meet fans and talk to everyone.
Reading his farewell blog on the Chikara website this afternoon, my heart sank for Sugar. It's obvious wrestling is his passion, and walking away for the time being doesn't seem to be by choice but rather necessity.
With any luck, Sugar will be back in the ring soon. But I hope he knows that no matter what happens in the future, he'll always be an active competitor in the hearts of every fan who has seen, met and talked with him.
Sugar D is a hero and an inspiration we can look up to during this year's Black History Month. Best wishes, Sugar; we're all thinking about you.