Celebrities & Pop Culture

Dwayne Johnson’s Father, Professional Wrestler Rocky Johnson, Has Died At Age 75

RIP, Soul Man.

Professional wrestler Rocky Johnson has died at the age of 75. Born Wayde Douglas Bowls, Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson is a former World Tag Team Champion and a member of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer.

Johnson’s father, Peter Mavia, was a wrestling star as well. Johnson’s own son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became the third generation to carry on the family tradition with a career as a WWE superstar before transitioning into acting in television and movies.

WWE took to Twitter to mourn the loss of the legend:

“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson has passed away,” read the tweet.

Johnson began his career with the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1960s and rose to fame during his tenure with the WWE in the 1980s.

“The ‘Soul Man’ retired from the ring in 1991, but his imprint continued to be felt on WWE for years to come,” read a statement on the WWE web site. “Post-retirement, Johnson had a hand in training his son, Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson. The Rock would become one of the biggest stars in the history of sports-entertainment and carried on his father’s legacy with pride.”

The “Soul Man” and “The Rock” enjoyed a close father-son bond throughout life. In 2017, the younger Johnson gifted his dad a Ford Explorer for Christmas.

In an emotional Instagram post, he told a sweet story about his dad’s selflessness and thanked him for making him into the man he is today:

View this post on Instagram

Bought my dad a Christmas gift and surprised him. He's had a hard life. This one felt good. My dad, Rocky Johnson is a minimalist. Always has been. Never asks me for much and over the years his needs are always the barest. Crazy story, my dad's dad died when he was 13yrs old. That Christmas, my dad's mom had her new boyfriend over for Christmas dinner. Her boyfriend got drunk and pissed on the turkey. My dad went outside, got a shovel, drew a line in the snow and said if you cross that line I'll kill you. The drunk crossed it and my dad laid him out cold as a block of ice. Cops were called. They told my dad's mom that when her boyfriend regains consciousness, he's gonna kill your son so one of them has got to go. In front of the entire family, my dad's mom looked at him and said get out. He was 13yrs old and now homeless. That f*cked up true story happened in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1954. He needed the bare minimum then, just like does now. Over the years, I've moved him into a big home, got him trucks to drive – which he'll literally drive into the ground until I get him something else. Hell, I'll get him anything he wants, but the SOB just won't ask;). Every Christmas, I always think about that story and my dad having every odd stacked against him at 13, but he fought thru it and still made something of himself. Makes me appreciate his struggle and hard work. Also, makes me appreciate the fun times he would beat my ass in the gym so bad when I was 13 and say "If you're gonna throw up, go outside.. and if you're gonna cry, then go home to your mother". I hated it then, but I embrace it now. Made a man outta me. Without pissing on my turkey. 😂👍🏾. Just a small way of saying thank you dad and Merry Christmas! #DwantaClaus🎅🏾

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His friends and colleagues in the wrestling and world and beyond have taken to social media to express their remembrances of the iconic star.

Fellow WWE legend Hulk Hogan called him a “great man” and “great friend” and remembered Johnson as someone who helped him launch his own career:

WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon paid tribute to Johnson as well, calling him “an incredible talent who forged an indelible legacy”:

Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, also expressed his condolences and called Johnson a “true trailblazer” and a “true champion”:

We’re sending our deepest condolences to Johnson’s loved during this difficult time. RIP, “Soul Man.”