On August 1, wrestling superstar Harley Race passed away at the age of 76.
Born on August 11, 1943, the legendary athlete started wrestling in 1960 and by the 70s, he had won the World’s Heavyweight Champion eight times. He spent three years with the WWE, but also wrestled with WCW, and was inducted into both the WCE and WWE Hall of Fame.
His family announced the tragic news via Twitter with a message reading, “Today at 12:50, we lost the man that fought up until the very last of his existence. More information will be released soon, but just know that he loved pro-wrestling and the fans that loved him. Harley Race, we love you.”
Race was Diagnosed with Lung Cancer in March
In recent years, Race had dealt with a slew of medical issues. In 2017, he took a fall while at his home in Missouri, which left him with two broken legs. Back in March, Race revealed that he’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. While traveling to make an appearance last month in Knoxville, Tennessee, Race suddenly needed to be admitted to the hospital to have a few things checked out. He kept his fans updated via Twitter about his health progress, even though the prognosis wasn’t always great news.
On July 19, Race’s verified account released the following message, “He had a bit of an increase in health today, but still not out of the woods yet. He was the World’s Champion for a reason, not just because his ability to wrestle.”
A week later, Harley was released from the hospital, but he was not out of the woods just yet. On July 23, his family said, “It’s been a quiet few days. Great news came yesterday. Today, we are being transported back home to continue care and treatment.”
The Entire Professional Wrestling World Sent Out Their Condolences
AWE, WWE and individual professional wrestlers sent out heartfelt messages detailing what the loss of Harley meant to them personally, and to the sport of wrestling as a whole. The NWA wrote, “Today, the world lost one of the toughest men to ever walk God’s green earth. RIP Harley Race! 8X NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion. The entire sport of professional wrestling and the The National Wrestling Alliance sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Harley.”
He was expecting a child with his first wife, Vivian Jones, when their car collided with a tractor trailer on December 25, 1961, and she died instantly. While Race was nearly needed his leg amputated and was told by doctors that he’d never wrestle again, he successfully returned to the sport two years later.
He was later married to Beverley Ann “BJ” Race, who passed away at the age of 60 from a pneumonia in 2009. Harley Race is survived by his two children from his third wife, whom according to the Riverfront Times, he divorced in the late 1980s.