Rocky Johnson, best known for his professional wrestling career and as the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died at age 75.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) confirmed the news on their website on Wednesday. “WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion…. has passed away at age 75,” they wrote.

Rocky was born in Nova Scotia Canada in 1944 and later began wrestling in Toronto. He was trained by High Chief Peter Maivia, the famous Samoan-American professional wrestler from the legendary Anoa’i wrestling family. Rocky would eventually marry Maivia’s daughter Ava, and have three children together, including Dwayne Johnson.


WWE gave no cause of death in their statement, but wrote of Rocky’s life and accomplishments.

“[Rocky]’s sports-entertainment career began in the mid-1960s when he made a memorable impression in the National Wrestling Alliance. However, [he] found his highest levels of success when he began his WWE tenure in 1983,” they recounted.

Rocky won regional NWA singles and tag team titles while in the National Wrestling Alliance, but made history when he joined WWE in the 1980s. There, he teamed up with “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas and the two became the first African Americans to win the WorldTag Team Championship.

Rocky retired in 1991, but helped train his son Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who would debut at WWE in 1996. Dwayne would later portray his father in an episode of That 70’s Show in 1996, and induct his father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.

Fans, fellow wrestlers, and wrestling organizations have reacted to the news of Rocky’s death, expressing condolences to his family.

NWA also issued a statement, writing, “The National Wrestling Alliance is saddened to hear of the passing of Rocky Johnson. His legacy stretches across every promotion. He was a champion everywhere he went including holding the NWA Georgia Championship. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family.

One of the men I looked up to and one of the best to ever do it. God rest his soul. #RipRockyJohnson,” Fellow WWE Hall of Famer Booker T. wrote on Twitter.


Former WWE professional wrestler and current professional wrestling manager Ric Flair responded similarly, writing,

“I’m Saddened To Hear About The Passing Of The GREAT ROCKY JOHNSON! I Wrestled Him Many Times Throughout His Illustrious Career. His Physique And Conditioning Were Unparalleled! He Was So Proud Of His Son Dwayne! He Raised Him To Be The Rock!! RIP Rocky Johnson!”

At the time this is being reported, Rocky’s family has not made a public statement about his passing.