Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, the legendary pro wrestler and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died at 75.
EW confirmed his death with the HB County Medical Examiners Office after it was first announced by World Wrestling Entertainment on Wednesday. “WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson has passed away,” the company said in a statement posted to social media. The Medical Examiner’s staff will be following normal procedures to determine the cause and manner of death.
Born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Canada, Johnson began his pro wrestling career in the mid-1960s with the National Wrestling Alliance and joined the WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation) two decades later. In 1983, Johnson and Tony Atlas — collectively known as the Soul Patrol — made WWE history as the first African-Americans to be crowned World Tag Team Champions.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson has passed away. https://t.co/9uxrICJKxb— WWE (@WWE) January 15, 2020
Johnson retired from the ring in 1991 but helped train his son Dwayne to wrestle, with a multitude of titles to his name that cemented his legacy.
With his father’s support, Dwayne Johnson secured a development deal with WWE that launched him to superstardom, first as a wrestler and later as an actor. The younger Johnson would pay tribute his dad by playing him on the episode of That ’70s Show during the sitcom’s freshman season.
Rocky Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, the same year his father-in-law, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, was posthumously inducted.
In addition to Dwayne, Johnson had two children from a previous marriage, Wanda and Curtis.
The National Wrestling Alliance is saddened to hear of the passing of Rocky Johnson.— NWA (@nwa) January 15, 2020
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. pic.twitter.com/KTqHZns6Hb