Dwayne Johnson Pays Tribute To His Late Dad
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson today paid tribute to his dad, Rocky Johnson, who has died at the age of 75.
Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson, a former World Tag Team Champion who was born Wayde Douglas Bowles, passed away on January 15. His cause of death is not yet known.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) issued a statement about his death on Wednesday night, describing the former pro-wrestler as ‘physically imposing and wildly charismatic’.
Johnson was born in Nova Scotia, Canada and began wrestling in 1964, although it wasn’t until he began his WWE tenure (then WWF) in 1983 that he rose to fame in the wrestling world.
He found his greatest success when he teamed up with Tony Atlas as The Soul Patrol, becoming the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on December 10, 1983.
WWE’s statement said he will be ‘forever enshrined as one of sports-entertainment’s most influential performers’, after achieving the highest honour when he was inducted by The Rock into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
Although he retired from the ring in 1991, he played an important role in training his son, who adopted the moniker ‘The Rock’ from his father. The Rock carried on his father’s legacy with pride, becoming arguably the biggest star in the history of professional wrestling.
Today, he paid tribute to his late dad through an Instagram post, in which he shared footage of one of his dad’s matches. A young Dwayne can be seen sitting on the sidelines supporting his father.
Alongside the video, he wrote:
I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love.
The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deep complex sides that needed to be held and understood.
Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life’s invaluable lessons.
Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side. But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back.
I’m in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass. Now I’ll carry your mana and work ethic with me, as it’s time to move on because I have my family to feed and work to accomplish.
Finally, I want you to rest your trailblazing soul, Soulman. Pain free, regret free, satisfied and at ease. You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high. #ripsoulman
Other tributes soon began pouring in for the wrestling legend, with WWE executive and wrestler Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque describing him as a ‘barrier-breaking performer’.
Mick Foley sent his ‘deepest condolences’ to his loved ones and ‘the fans who loved him’, adding: ‘I am so sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson. Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him… A very sad day for wrestling.’
American sportscaster Sean Grande said Johnson’s prime came ‘while the industry’s unspoken glass ceiling for African-Americans was very much in effect’.
But Rocky Johnson had ‘it’. And before he passed it on to his son, he resonated with fans the way a babyface should, leaving all kinds of cracks in that glass ceiling. RIP.
Although the cause of his death is not yet known, former professional wrestler Brian Blair, who was friends with Johnson for many years, said he had complained of an unspecified illness and had recently missed church.
Blair said Johnson’s wife, Sheila, was distraught over her husband’s death, adding, as per The Guardian:
He was just under the weather, he thought he had the flu or something. I said, ‘You need to get checked out, Rocky.’ He said he’d be OK. Then he missed this Sunday, a few days ago.
When I talked to him again, he said he still wasn’t feeling good and he still missed church. He still didn’t get checked out. I talked to Sheila and she said he was just being stubborn. He died at home, today.
Our thoughts are with Rocky’s loved ones at this difficult time.
Rest in peace, Rocky.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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