Rocky Johnson, a former professional wrestler and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died aged 75.
His death was confirmed on Wednesday in a statement released by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). No cause of death was given.
Johnson, whose real name was Wayde Douglas Bowles, rose to fame with WWE in the 1980s.
Known as “Soul Man”, he was part of the first black tag team to win a WWE championship.
Following his retirement in 1991, Johnson helped train his son Dwayne, now a Hollywood star who became a WWE wrestling icon in his own right.
In 2008, Dwayne inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame, where “he will be forever enshrined as one of sports-entertainment’s most influential performers”, the WWE said.
In its statement, WWE said it was “saddened” to hear of his death and “extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans”.
Wrestling stars have paid tribute to Johnson, described as a “barrier-breaking performer” by fellow hall of fame member Triple H.
Who was Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson?
Born on 24 August 1944, Johnson grew up in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada before moving to Toronto in his teens, when he began wrestling.
In his teenage years, Johnson trained to be a boxer, sparring with the likes of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. But he would choose wrestling as his profession, entering the industry with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in the mid-1960s.
Adopting the ring name “Rocky Johnson”, he wrestled for 18 years with the NWA, winning tag team championships. More success would follow when he joined WWE in the 1980s.
— WWE (@WWE) January 16, 2020