Rocky Johnson, a WWE pioneer and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died at the age of 75.
Rocky Johnson died on Wednesday, he was living in the Tampa Bay area. The cause of his death of Rocky “Soulman” Johnson is yet to be known.
Born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1944, Johnson began his wrestling career at the age of 16 and became a top star in the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1960s but joined the WWE in the 80s. He and Tony Atlas became the league’s first African-American tag team champions as The Soul Patrol.
He won multiple regional NWA titles, traveling through the territorial system and wrestling against legends like Harley Race, Terry Funk, and Jerry Lawler. Some of his biggest rivals were Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis. Rocky retired back in 1991 and he was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
He trained his son, Dwayne, to be a wrestler despite initial misgivings. Upon his WWF debut in 1996, Dwayne Johnson took the ring name Rocky Maivia in honor of his wrestling roots before reimagining himself as the Attitude Era heel known famously as The Rock. In 2008, Rocky Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside Peter Maivia by his son.
Johnson is survived by his sons, Dwayne and Curtis, and his daughter, Wanda.