WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, who paved the way for son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has passed away at the age of 75, WWE confirmed on Wednesday.
|Vintage photos of Rocky Johnson and his son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.|
“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,” the WWE statement read.
“The physically imposing and wildly charismatic Johnson had several memorable rivalries with the likes of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis. 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”. 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.
Rest in peace, Rocky Johnson!