Pro wrestler Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, dies at 75

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has lost his father, and the wrestling world is already missing one of the greats.

Both the WWE and the Cauliflower Alley Club, a group of former professional wrestlers, announced Wednesday that Rocky Johnson had died at 75. The Rock’s representatives did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's parents, Ata and Rocky, were by his side at his May 2015 hand and footprint ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

In addition to training his son, who would one day be known as massive movie star The Rock, to be a wrestler, the elder Johnson was a wrestling star in his own right. Rocky Johnson, whose nickname was “Soul Man,” began wrestling as a teenager in the ‘60s and became a WWE Hall of Famer.

He joined the popular organization in 1983, having already established himself in the National Wrestling Alliance. During his time at World Wrestling Entertainment, Johnson worked with another wrestler, Tony Atlas, as part of “The Soul Patrol.” He and Atlas were the first African-American duo to win WWE’s World Tag Team Championship.

He retired from the group in 1991, although he didn’t go far from the ring. Johnson spent time training his son and appearing by his side in the ‘90s. According to the organization, he also trained other wrestlers.

In 1999, the actor played his father on a 1999 episode of That ‘70s Show.

Then, in 2008, The Rock himself inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame.

The two remained close in later years. In March 2018, The Rock explained that he’d bought his father a bigger car, a Cadillac, following a hip surgery.

The Jumanji star thanked his dad for being tough on him.

“He’d kick my a** from one side of the gym to the other for years,” The Rock said. “I hated it when I was a kid, but grateful for it as a man.”

Rocky divorced his wife of 33 years in 2003, but the two were happy to reunite to support their son.

Following the news of the elder Johnson’s death, his fellow pro wrestlers, friends and fans paid tribute.

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