WWE has issued a statement on the passing of former WWE and FMW star Corporal Kirchner (Mike Penzel, aka Leatherface/Super Leather).
As noted, Kirchner passed away on Wednesday at the age of 64. He reportedly passed away from a heart attack, while at his home in Siler City, North Carolina.
WWE paid tribute to Kirchner and recalled his WrestleMania 2 Flag Match win over WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff. They also noted how he competed around the world for promotions like NJPW, Stampede, W*ING, and others. The full statement can be seen below.
Kirchner actually got into pro wrestling after a stint in the United States Army as a paratrooper. His wrestling journey began after meeting WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan in a gym while working as a mechanic and bouncer in Minnesota. Hogan introduced him to AWA promoter Verne Gagne, and he went from there. Kirchner worked for WWE from 1985-1987, replacing WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter as a patriotic character for the company. Kirchner later worked for various companies in Japan, including NJPW, and held the FMW Brass Knuckles Title. He worked as a truck driver after pro wrestling, and had not wrestled since 2009. WWE profiled Kirchner for a “Where Are They Now?” feature in 2011.
Kirchner is survived by his wife of 25 years, three sons and one daughter. His obituary can be found at this link.
You can read WWE’s full statement on Kirchner below, and see a few clips from his career:
Corporal Kirchner passes away
We are saddened to learn that Michael Penzel, better known as Corporal Kirchner and beloved by fans all over the world, passed away yesterday at the age of 64. Our sincerest thoughts are with his family, friends and those affected by his passing.
After serving as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, Kirchner would meet Hulk Hogan while working in a gym and begin paving the trail for an incredible career in sports-entertainment. After debuting as RT Reynolds, Penzel began competing as Corporal Kirchner and engaged in a memorable rivalry with Nikolai Volkoff. The battle culminated with a Flag Match victory for Kirchner at WrestleMania 2.
Following his run in WWE, Kirchner would travel the globe competing for Stampede, NJPW, the UWF, W*ING and other promotions. Kirchner would later appear inside the squared circle as Leatherface and capped off his career in 2007.