Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson, the father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died.
The Canadian professional wrestler, who was born in Nova Scotia as Wayde Douglas Bowles, was 75 years old. His beloved World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) confirmed his death on their website, “WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion, and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has passed away.”
Rocky started wrestling when he was 16. He would go on to become a National Wrestling Alliance Georgia Champion and win multiple championships throughout his career, which spanned several decades. In 1983, the big guy joined the WWE and he started wrestling with Tony Atlas. The two men formed the first Black tag team, which they called “The Soul Patrol,” and they won the World Tag Team Championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), reported PEOPLE.
Although Johnson retired from wrestling in 1991 his impact on the wrestling culture would live on.
He shifted his role from a superstar athlete to become a trainer. He was the trainer most instrumental in the development of his son, Dwayne, to become a wrestler.
Their bond has been noted by both of them. For Father’s Day in 2018, Dwayne penned a tribute to his dad on Instagram.
“Happy Father’s Day to this hardly ever smiling OG badass. Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like me, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. Funny thing is the day I stopped looking for that approval was the day I understood what it meant to be a man and more importantly, a father,” Dwayne wrote.
“That shift lifted me to a new level of gratitude for the tough love he always gave. Years later as a man and father of three girls, I know that tough love, is a helluva lot better than no love at all. I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock. #HappyFathersDay #KingStache #RockyJohnson,” he added.
Rocky was married to Ata Maivia in 1970. They had Dwayne in 1972 but divorced in 2003.