Dwayne Johnson's father and former pro wrestler Rocky Johnson dies at 75
Tributes have been paid to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father and WWE hall of fame wrestler Rocky Johnson following his death aged 75.
Johnson, known as “Soul Man”, was a trailblazer in the ring and was the first African-American WWE tag team champion.
He retired in 1991 and his son Dwayne continued his wrestling legacy before becoming a major Hollywood star.
Dwayne inducted his father into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2008.
Announcing his death, the WWE said in a statement it “extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans”.
No cause of death was given. Figures from the wrestling industry have paid tribute.
Mick Foley, whose ring identities include Mankind and Dude Love, tweeted: “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.”
Booker T Huffman, whose ring name is Booker T, said: “One of the men I looked up to and one of the best to ever do it. God rest his soul.”
Matt Hardy, who wrestled alongside his brother Jeff as the Hardy Boyz, wrote: “Saddened to hear about the passing of Rocky Johnson. Rocky was always extremely friendly and kind to me every time I interacted with him over the years. My condolences and thoughts go out to his family.”
And Dana Brooke said: “My heart goes out to the family of @TheRock
and may prayers be sent your way during this time! I am sorry for your loss!”
Johnson, born in Nova Scotia, Canada, began his wrestling career in the mid-1960s but found wider fame when joining the WWE in 1983.
He was known for his rivalries with the likes of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis, and enjoyed 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 in December 1983.
Jumanji star Dwayne, 47, has previously spoken about his relationship with his father, who he thanked for “always instilling the value of hard work and discipline”.
When buying Johnson a house last year, Dwayne, a father of three and one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood, said: “He raised me with that tough physical love and used to beat my ass in the gyms and on wrestling mats.
“I hated it then as a little boy, but grateful for it today as a man. It’s shaped my DNA and helped inform how I raise my own babies (minus the ass kickings) but always instilling the value of hard work and discipline.
“For that I’m grateful.”