From 1992 to 1996, Matt Osborne put on the white makeup, the green wig, and one of the most recognizable sets of wrestling tights you’ll ever lay eyes on. He plied his trade in the World Wrestling Federation (predecessor to the WWE) as Doink the Clown. He started out just working the crowd ringside, not actually jumping in the ring until 1993. When he did hop the top rope, he came on as a villain – but a clown of a villain – pouring water on opponents, setting up trip wires. Once he hit Jerry Lawler in the face with a pie. The Doink the Clown character was so popular that other people in addition to Osborne were enlisted to play him in multiple locations on circuit. Sometimes they even teamed up to attack opponents in tandem.
But Matt Osborne was a troubled soul. He was fired from the WWE for repeated drug abuse offenses. He eventually left the Doink character to another, then another. Big name wrestlers have even dressed up as Doink the Clown themselves, such as when Chris Jericho dressed up as Doink in 2001 and attacked William Regal.
Matt Osborne himself actually had wrestling experience that predated Doink’s 1992 appearance. He had been on the independent wrestling circuit since 1978. He then wrestled for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), then World Championship Wrestling (WCW), before joining the WWF in 1992. He wrestled a few matches under his own name before his famous debut in the ring as Doink.
Osborne eventually ended up back in the independent circuit again, wrestling in National Guard Armories and high school gyms. He had ups and downs, mini-reunions, bits of success. In 2010 he won the Wrecking Ball Wrestling Championship.
On Friday, June 28, Osborne was found dead by his girlfriend in their home in Texas. Police initially called his death accidental, but have launched a homicide investigation.
This is Doink the Clown’s ring debut in 1993.