Dwayne Johnson’s father and WWE pioneer Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson has died aged 75. The wrestler’s passing was confirmed by WWE on Wednesday, with a statement reading: ‘WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson…has passed away. ‘WWE extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans.’ No cause of death was given.
Rocky was a WWE Hall of Famer and the first black tag team champion in WWE, alongside partner Tony Atlas as the Soul Patrol in 1983. Soul Man started his professional wrestling career in 1964 with the National Wrestliing Alliance, before he joined the WWE in 1983.
Some of his biggest rivals in the game included Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis.
Rocky, real name Wayde Douglas Bowles, retired from wrestling in 1991, but his legacy was continued by his son Dwayne, aka The Rock, who went on to become one of the most recognisable faces in the WWE. Dwayne – now one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood – paid tribute to his father with his alter ego’s name, and in 2008, he inducted both his father and his grandfather, ‘High Cgief’ Peter Maivia, into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside Ric Flair.
Johnson has remained close with his father throughout his life, and in 2018, the Jumanji star wrote on Instagram: ‘”Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. ‘It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock.’