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. https://t.co/9uxrICJKxb
— WWE (@WWE) January 15, 2020
“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.”
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:
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:
So sorry for the loss of Rocky Johnson. A great man, a great friend and I will always remember he was one of only a few that was kind and helpful when I first broke in. RIP Rocky. I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 16, 2020
WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon paid tribute to Johnson as well, calling him “an incredible talent who forged an indelible legacy”:
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) January 16, 2020
Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, also expressed his condolences and called Johnson a “true trailblazer” and a “true champion”:
Oh man… Rest in Power Rocky Johnson. So much more than Dwayne Johnson's dad. So much more than a pro wrestler. True trailblazer. True champion. pic.twitter.com/MQFjO0hUjL
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) January 15, 2020
We’re sending our deepest condolences to Johnson’s loved during this difficult time. RIP, “Soul Man.”