Former pro wrestler Rocky Johnson, the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, died Wednesday at age 75.
Johnson was the first African American wrestler to hold the tag-team title in the then World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) when he and Tony Atlas, wrestling as the Soul Patrol won the tag-team title in 1983.
In addition to being a pro wrestler, Johnson served as a sparring partner for boxers such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Johnson incorporated boxing moves, such as the Ali Shuffle, into his pro wrestling routing.
According to wrestling journalist-historian Dave Meltzer, “When Dwayne Johnson, a childhood wrestling fan who moved from territory to territory while growing up, was cut from the Canadian Football League, he asked his father to train him for pro wrestling. Rocky Johnson was very negative on his son becoming a wrestler, but eventually he and Ron Slinker trained Johnson, and through Rocky Johnson’s longtime friendship with Pat Patterson, brought Patterson in on a session.
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