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Wrestling legend Ric Flair had 20 percent chance of survival during hospitalization

Ric Flair (Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wrestling legend Ric Flair is blaming decades of social drinking for his recent near-death experience and hospitalization, according to an interview with PEOPLE.

The 68-year-old icon was taken to the hospital on Aug. 11 with stomach pains and faced the early stages of kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He remained in the hospital for nearly a month. While there, doctors removed a part of his bowel and inserted a pacemaker.

According to family members, Flair was only given a 20 percent chance of survival when he was first admitted.

“I crashed in an airplane and broke my back, I’ve been hit by lightning,” Flair said. “But this is totally different. Anything I’ve been through before is nothing like this.”

Flair ultimately blames the addiction on coping with injuries from years of wrestling.

“I’ve never taken a pain pill in my life,” Flair told PEOPLE. “I’d just take a shower, flip my hair back and go to the best bar in town.”

Flair says he’ll never drink again and remains in a convalescent center in Atlanta.