Rocky Johnson, a professional wrestler himself, had a great impact on Dwayne's life.
Rocky Johnson was a well-known wrestler and a tag team champion even before people heard the name of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. A professional athlete, Rocky Johnson is also one of the very few members of the wrestling community to find his place in the legendary WWE Hall Of Fame. His career, as a wrestler started in 1964 and became a true champion in his own right. WWE confirmed the sad news that the former wrestling champion has died at the age of 75.
We are saddened to learn of the passing of Hall of Famer and former OVW trainer Rocky Johnson. A trailblazer as one half of the first African American World Tag Team Champions as well as many other accomplishments, Johnson left an indelible mark on our sport. pic.twitter.com/cBWXyLIiuA— OVW Wrestling (@ovwrestling) January 16, 2020
WWE paid tribute to Rocky and released a statement on their website stating: "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."
#RockyJohnson has passed away at the age of 75. He was a champion pro wrestling legend from Canada & father to #DwayneJohnson who was inspired to follow in his father's footsteps. pic.twitter.com/ddeqwLRdoj— Geeks + Gamers (@GeeksGamersCom) January 16, 2020
Rocky was popularly known as the 'Soul Man' and WWE spoke about his career on their website stating: "The “Soul Man” retired from the ring in 1991, but his imprint continued to be felt on WWE for years to come. Post-retirement, Johnson had a hand in training his son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock would become one of the biggest stars in the history of sports-entertainment and carried on his father’s legacy with pride."
As reported by People, Rocky Johnson was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and his real name was Wayde Douglas Bowles. In 1964, he was only 16-years-old when he began his wrestling career from where he went on to become a National Wrestling Alliance Georgia Champion. WWE mentions his accomplishments in their tribute to him: "In 2008, Johnson achieved the highest honor in sports-entertainment when he was inducted by The Rock into the WWE Hall of Fame where he will be forever enshrined as one of sports-entertainment’s most influential performers."
Terrible news breaking tonight. WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, father of @TheRock, has sadly passed away, aged 75.— Wrestling Travel (@WrestlingTravel) January 15, 2020
Alongside Tony Atlas, Johnson was one half of the first ever black WWF tag team champions.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest In Power, Rocky 🙏 pic.twitter.com/tnplMM5AwW
There is no denying the incredible impact he had on Dwayne's life as he himself trained 'The Rock' to become a professional wrestler after he retired in 1991. The father-son duo was always close and Dwayne has often stated his appreciation for his father who played a great role in developing Dwayne as a professional and as a person.
Dwayne had posted on his Instagram, an image of himself with his father and wrote a touching caption on Father's Day, appreciating his presence in his life. He wrote: "Happy Father’s Day to this hardly ever smiling OG bad ass. 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. I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock. #HappyFathersDay #KingStache #RockyJohnson"
After his death, former wrestlers, friends, and family have been grieving the loss and thousands of his fans have taken to the internet to show solidarity with the Johnson family. Dwayne has not released any statement so far but his fans have flooded social media with condolence messages. The death of Rocky Johnson has come as a great loss for not only the family but for thousands of his fans who had grown up watching this legend take on the heavy-wights in the wrestling ring. May he rest in peace!