The world of professional wrestling has lost one of its pioneers in Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, who made history as one-half of the first Black tag-team champions in the WWE. The father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson passed on Wednesday (Jan. 15).
The WWE shared news of Johnson’s passing, sharing in a post what details they had with the public.
Johnson’s sports-entertainment career began in the mid-1960s when he made a memorable impression in the National Wrestling Alliance. However, Johnson found his highest levels of success when he began his WWE tenure in 1983.
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, born Wayde Douglas Bowles and a Canadian national, left the ring for good in 1991 and was helpful in training his son The Rock ahead of his ascent to the top of the pro wrestling ranks, honoring his father with his stage name. And due to videos shared by WWE, Johnson was just as charismatic on the microphone as he was selling the high-flying and powerful moves inside the ring.
The elder Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 due to his influence on the sport-entertainment genre. Thus far, The Rock has yet to make a public statement regarding the loss of his father.
Rocky Johnson was 75.
Our condolences to the family of Rocky “Soulman” Johnson. May he rest powerfully in peace.