Dwayne Johnson‘s father, the Canadian professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, is dead. He was 75.
World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed the news on their website, writing, “WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion, and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has passed away at age 75.”
A rep for the actor did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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, born and raised in Nova Scotia, began his career in the mid 1960s at the age of 16as part of the National Wrestling Alliance. He quickly went on to become the first African American to win the Southern, Georgia and Florida heavyweight titles before starting his wrestling career with WWE in 1983 and began wrestling with Tony Atlas.
The two became a part of the first African American tag team — known as The Soul Patrol — to win the World Tag Team Championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The wrestler had several memorable rivalries with competitors like Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Adrian Adonis, and Don Muraco.
Rocky retired from the WWE in 1991, and began training his son to become a wrestler. Dwayne took on the name “The Rock” — whose iconic moniker was inspired by his father’s name — and continued his father’s legacy, becoming one of the most celebrated wrestlers in the history of the sport.
In 2008, Rocky was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He is survived by three children — Dwayne, as well as his son, Curtis, and daughter, Wanda.
View this post on Instagram
Happy Father’s Day to this hardly ever smiling OG bad ass. Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. Funny thing is the day I stopped looking for that approval was the day I understood what it meant to be man and more importantly, a father. That shift lifted me to a new level of gratitude for the tough love he always gave. Years later as a man and father of three girls, I know that tough love, is a helluva lot better than no love at all. I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock. #HappyFathersDay #KingStache #RockyJohnson
Numerous wrestlers have shared their condolences on Twitter.
“I am so sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson,” Mick Foley wrote. “Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the fans who loved him. A very sad day for wrestling.”
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson. Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the fans who loved him. A very sad day for wrestling.#RIPRockyJohnson pic.twitter.com/4agKbOzAry
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) January 15, 2020
— Booker T. Huffman (@BookerT5x) January 15, 2020
— What's causin' Aldis (@RealNickAldis) January 15, 2020