The sports entertainment world lost a trailblazer with the loss of Rocky “Soulman” Johnson. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) confirmed in a tweet that Johnson passed away yesterday, January 15, at the age of 75. No further details about his death are known at press time.
Born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Nova Scotia, Johnson started wrestling in the 1960s with stints in both the World Wide Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance. Under the tutelage of his father-in-law, legendary Samoan wrestler High Chief Peter Maivia, Johnson joined the WWE (then known as World Wrestling Federation) in 1982. He would join forces with friend and fellow wrestler Tony Atlas as “The Soul Patrol.” Their defining moment would come in November 1983, when they defeated The Wild Samoans to become WWF Tag Team Champions. Johnson and Atlas were the first African-American duo to hold the title.
Following his retirement in 1991, Johnson would eventually focus on training his son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who would inevitably become a WWE superstar himself before making the switch to Hollywood. With his legacy intact, Rocky Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
The Rock has not made a statement on his father’s passing, but we definitely send our condolences to him and his family at this time.