Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, former professional wrestler and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died at the age of 75.
The death of Rocky Johnson, whose real name was Wayde Bowles, was announced in a statement by World Wrestling Entertainment on Wednesday. His manager confirmed the death to NBC News, but did not share details on the cause of death.
Rocky Johnson began his career in the 1960s with the National Wrestling Alliance before becoming an athlete with WWE in 1983, according to the wrestling league’s statement. He teamed up with fellow WWE wrestler Tony Atlas to form the duo The Soul Patrol, who would go on to defeat The Wild Samoans that year.
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The two men became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history, the statement said.
“The ‘Soul Man’ retired from the ring in 1991, but his imprint continued to be felt on WWE for years to come,” WWE said in its statement. “Post-retirement, Johnson had a hand in training his son, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
The Rock inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dwayne Johnson was one of wrestling’s biggest stars in the 1990s and early 2000s before he transitioned his career to acting. The 47-year-old has starred in blockbuster hits such as “San Andreas,” “Moana” and multiple installments of the “Fast and Furious” and “Jumanji” franchises.
He posted a heartfelt video to his Instagram in March where he discussed his father’s emotional reaction to the actor’s offer to buy him a house wherever he wants. Dwayne Johnson said that his father was kicked out of his house on Christmas Day when he was just 13 and forced to live on the streets.
“He’s a weathered soul and like all weathered souls, there’s often a harsh storied path that got them there,” he captioned the video.
Dwayne Johnson went on to say that his father raised him with tough love that shaped him and helped him learn the value hard work and discipline.
“He raised me with that tough physical love and used to beat my a– in the gyms and on wrestling mats,” he wrote. “I hated it then as a little boy, but grateful for it today as a man.”
A representative for Dwayne Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.