“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 at age 75,” the organization said on Wednesday. It added: “WWE extends its condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and fans.”
The statement noted that Johnson, whose career started in the 1960s, ended up joining the WWE in 1983 before he retired in 1991.
“The physically imposing and wildly charismatic Johnson had several memorable rivalries with the likes of Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, Don Muraco and Adrian Adonis,” read the organization’s statement. “He found his greatest success when he teamed up with Tony Atlas as The Soul Patrol. The two men became the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983.”
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson has passed away. https://t.co/9uxrICJKxb
— WWE (@WWE) January 15, 2020
Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.
“The ‘Soul Man’ retired from the ring in 1991, but his imprint continued to be felt on WWE for years to come,” the WWE said. “Post-retirement, Johnson had a hand in training his son, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.”
Dwayne Johnson hasn’t issued a comment after his father’s reported death.
On Father’s Day in June, he posted a tribute to this father: “Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, 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 man and more importantly, a father. 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,” he added. “I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today.”
Other details, including his cause of death, were not provided in the statement.
Johnson is survived by three children: Dwayne, son Curtis, and daughter Wanda.