Unfortunately, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s father, WWE Superstar Rocky Johnson, has passed away at age 75.
It was announced yesterday morning that WWE Superstar Rocky Johnson has passed away at age 75. The news was confirmed over Twitter by the WWE on Wednesday:
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, born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1944, was an accomplished wrestler in his own right who fought with the likes of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Through his second wife, Ata Maivia, he was a member of the Anoa’i wrestling family, considered by many to be the unofficial “royal family” of the sport. His legacy to the sport was huge; he joined the WWE in 1969 and was considered by many to be one of the toughest contenders in the sport. He won many tag team titles throughout the 70s before retiring in 1991. “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, as he was known in later years, came to be one of the defining characters of a sport that was only just beginning to establish itself in the mainstream. Many fans took to social media to describe how Rocky Johnson was the fighter who got them interested in wrestling; everyone had their own story to share about a match he fought that was special and meaningful for them.
In an Instagram post dated to last Christmas, when The Rock bought his father a car, he opened up to fans about details of his father’s life and upbringing.
View this post on Instagram
Bought my dad a Christmas gift and surprised him. He's had a hard life. This one felt good. My dad, Rocky Johnson is a minimalist. Always has been. Never asks me for much and over the years his needs are always the barest. Crazy story, my dad's dad died when he was 13yrs old. That Christmas, my dad's mom had her new boyfriend over for Christmas dinner. Her boyfriend got drunk and pissed on the turkey. My dad went outside, got a shovel, drew a line in the snow and said if you cross that line I'll kill you. The drunk crossed it and my dad laid him out cold as a block of ice. Cops were called. They told my dad's mom that when her boyfriend regains consciousness, he's gonna kill your son so one of them has got to go. In front of the entire family, my dad's mom looked at him and said get out. He was 13yrs old and now homeless. That f*cked up true story happened in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1954. He needed the bare minimum then, just like does now. Over the years, I've moved him into a big home, got him trucks to drive – which he'll literally drive into the ground until I get him something else. Hell, I'll get him anything he wants, but the SOB just won't ask;). Every Christmas, I always think about that story and my dad having every odd stacked against him at 13, but he fought thru it and still made something of himself. Makes me appreciate his struggle and hard work. Also, makes me appreciate the fun times he would beat my ass in the gym so bad when I was 13 and say "If you're gonna throw up, go outside.. and if you're gonna cry, then go home to your mother". I hated it then, but I embrace it now. Made a man outta me. Without pissing on my turkey. 😂👍🏾. Just a small way of saying thank you dad and Merry Christmas! #DwantaClaus🎅🏾
The Rock described his father as “a minimalist” who “never asks for much.” His father died when he was 13 and he was in and out of fights with his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Nevertheless, he made the best out of a bad situation by reinventing himself as a powerful champion wrestler. You can hear The Rock’s sincere admiration for his father in the way he describes him beating the odds and making something of himself.
Fans, supporters, and fellow wrestlers came out in droves to show their respect and love to a man that changed their lives. Many of his fellow WWE competitors took to Twitter to celebrate his legacy and share how he had had an impact on them.
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of the great Rocky Johnson. Always a gentleman, I always enjoyed talking with him. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the fans who loved him. A very sad day for wrestling.#RIPRockyJohnson pic.twitter.com/4agKbOzAry
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) January 15, 2020
So sad to hear that my friend Rocky Johnson has passed away. He was an amazing man who I admired greatly! God Bless you Rocky until we see each other in heaven!! Prayers going out to Dwayne @TheRock Johnson and his family. You’re in my thoughts always! Much love!
— Brutus Beefcake (@brutusbeefcake_) January 15, 2020
Even though death is always such a tragic occurrence, the outpouring of love for The Rock and his family really shows what a special man Rocky Johnson was and how powerfully he touched the lives of all of those around him. Other wrestlers described him as an “extremely friendly & kind” person over the years who always behaved with respect both in and out of the ring. Anyone can become a “powerful man” through strength training but these tributes are a testament to what a truly powerful man Rocky Johnson was inside and out, due not only to his physical strength but to the positive impact he had on others throughout his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with The Rock and his family during this time.
*All media used with appropriate license.