Rocky Johnson, famed wrestler and father of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, dead at 75

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    Rocky « Soul Man » Johnson, a former professional wrestler who was the father of Dwayne « The Rock » Johnson, has died at age 75.

    The death of Rocky Johnson, whose real name was Wayde Bowles, was announced Wednesday in a statement by World Wrestling Entertainment. His manager confirmed the news 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, then known as the Word Wrestling Federation, 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.

    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, 47, was one of wrestling’s biggest stars in the 1990s and the early 2000s before he moved into acting, starring in blockbuster hits such as « San Andreas » and « Moana » and in multiple installments of the « Fast and Furious » and « Jumanji » franchises.

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