WWE Hall-of-Famer Rocky Johnson — who paved the way for son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — has passed away at the age of 75.
The Cauliflower Alley Club — a pro-wrestling non-profit — shared the sad news first, via Twitter,writing, “Horrible news to pass along. We just learned that Rocky Johnson passed away today at the age of 75.”
The tweet continued, “His accolades in this business, all the people he influenced, all his accomplishments, and we are so deeply sorry and wish his family nothing but the most love at this time.”
The WWE later confirmed the report of Rocky’s — real name Wayde Douglas Bowles — passing, detailing the “Soul Man’s” legacy within the iconic wrestling organization.
“The physically imposing and wildly charismatic Johnson had several memorable rivalries with the likes of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis,” reads the site. “He found his greatest success when he teamed up with Tony Atlas as The Soul Patrol. The two men became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983.”
Johnson married into an expansive Samoan wrestling family, which included the Anoa’i family, through “High Chief” Peter Maivia’s daughter Ata Maivia. He retired in 1991, dedicating much of his time to training his son, who would grow up to become “The Rock,” 47. Dwayne would go on to become one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation before crossing over into acting, and in fact, his first non-wrestling role on television was portraying his father in a 1999 episode of “That ’70s Show.” Rocky eventually returned to the ring to help his son during WrestleMania XIII.
The star has yet to comment publicly on the passing of his father.