Jan. 16 (UPI) — Rocky Johnson, WWE Hall of Fame wrestler and father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died at the age of 75, the entertainment company announced on Wednesday.
“WWE extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans,” WWE said in a statement.
The cause of death was not released.
The Cauliflower Alley Club, a club for professional wrestlers, confirmed his death via Twitter.
“We just learned that Rocky Johnson passed away today at the age of 75,” the club said in a statement. “His accolades in this business, all the people he influenced, all his accomplishments, and we are so deeply sorry and wish his family nothing but the most love at this time.”
Born Wayde Douglas Bowles, the Canadian wrestler began his entertainment career in the National Wrestling Alliance in the mid-1960s before shifting to the WWE where his popularity grew due to his charisma and talent, the WWE said.
“His legacy stretches across every promotion,” the NWA said in a statement. “He was a champion everywhere he went, including holding the NWA Georgia Championship.”
His greatest ring accomplishment was becoming the first African American World Tag Team Champions in 1983 when he and Tony Atlas defeated The Wild Samoans for the title.
Johnson would retire in 1991, but his influence in the WWE continued to be felt as he helped train his son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to become a household name and one of the biggest stars in the WWE’s history.
In 2008, Dwayne would induct his father into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Following news of his death, the wrestling world took to social media in mourning.
Actor and retired wrestler Mick Foley said Wednesday was “a very sad day for wrestling.”
“I am sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson,” Foley said on Twitter. “Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and the fans who loved him.”
Brutus Beefcake, WWE Hall Of Fame wrestler, called Johnson a friend and “an amazing man who I admired greatly.”
“God bless you, Rocky, until we see each other in heaven!!” he said.