LUTZ, FL — WWE Hall of Famer and father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rocky Johnson died Wednesday from a blood clot at his home in Lutz, Florida, at the age of 75.
Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion in the history of Texas, Georgia and Florida, winning the Florida title in 1975 at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa.
Calling themselves “The Soul Patrol,” Johnson and Tony Atlas were also the first black duo to hold a WWE Tag Team Championship. The two men made WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983, according to the WWE, which described Johnson as “physically imposing and wildly charismatic.”
Johnson just released his autobiography, “Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story,” in the fall and was scheduled to take part in a Legends Fan Fest in Tampa April 2-4.
Born on Aug. 24, 1944, in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada as Wayde Bowles. He was an actor, known for Spectrum Wrestling, WWF Championship Wrestling (1977) and Wrestling at the Chase (1959).
He left home at the age of 14 and, after a short stint in boxing, decided to pursue a career as a professional wrestler. His first match was in 1965.
In “Soulman,” Johnson, a direct descendant of slaves, not only reflects on his wrestling career but also on the racial barriers he encountered on his way to winning heavyweight titles.
He began his association with the WWE in 1983, battling in several memorable rivalries with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis.
The “Soulman” retired from the ring in 1991, but continued to leave his imprint on the WWE. He said his greatest achievement was training his son to become a wrestler in 1995. Dwayne Johnson parlayed those skills into a successful career as a Hollywood film star.
In 2008, Johnson achieved the highest honor in sports-entertainment when he was inducted by The Rock into the WWE Hall of Fame as one of sports-entertainment’s most influential performers.
On Friday, Dwayne Johnson posted an emotional tribute to his father on Twitter:
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