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The Rock's Famous Dad Is Dead at 75

Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne Johnson, reportedly died at home after illness
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2020 6:17 AM CST
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Tony Atlas, left, and Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson pose in the ring with their championship wrestling belts.   (WWE, Inc. via AP)
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(Newser) – WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, has died at age 75. Sports journalist Dave Meltzer broke the news, later confirmed by the WWE, in a Wednesday tweet, per People. Born Wayde Douglas Bowles, the Canadian competed in the National Wrestling Alliance before joining the WWE in 1983. Partnering with Tony Atlas, he became one half of the first black tag team, The Soul Patrol, which went on to win the World Tag Team Championship. After retiring in 1991, Johnson trained his son, who would become the first black WWE champion, per the CBC. "He'd kick my a-- from one side of the gym to the other for years," Dwayne later said, per People. "I hated it when I was a kid, but [feel] grateful for it as a man."

In a 2018 Instagram post, Dwayne noted "little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, do whatever they do." Indeed, Dwayne's first acting job was portraying his father on That '70s Show in 1999. In 2008, he inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame. Former WWE star Brian Blair said Johnson—whose autobiography was released in October—died at home after complaining of being unwell, per the Guardian. He "thought he had the flu or something" but "didn't get checked out. I talked to [wife] Sheila and she said he was just being stubborn," he said. "A loss for every fan of @WWE, Rocky Johnson was a barrier-breaking performer," WWE executive Paul "Triple H" Levesque said in a tweet. "Our thoughts are with his family at this time." (Read more WWE stories.)

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