Longtime WWE star Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson died on Wednesday, the WWE announced. He was 75.
Johnson made his fighting debut in 1966 and competed in the National Wrestling Alliance throughout the 1970s while earning multiple regional singles and tag team titles. He joined the WWE in 1983, and won the World Tag Team Championship alongside Tony Atlas after beating The Wild Samoans that same year — which made them the first African Americans to win the title in the sport. He had several notable rivalries with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis, too.
Johnson, born Wayde Douglas Bowles, officially retired in 1991. He has helped train several notable fighters since, however, including his son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — who competed in the WWE before his massive acting career took off.
Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his son in 2008.
“The National Wrestling Alliance is saddened to hear of the passing of Rocky Johnson,” the NWA said in a statement. “His legacy stretches across every promotion. He was a champion everywhere he went including holding the NWA Georgia Championship. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family.”
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