Legendary former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson (née Wade Douglas Bowles) passed away on Wednesday, January 15 at the age of 75. Johnson was a pioneer in the sport of professional wrestling. Together with Tony Atlas, they formed Soul Patrol, and became the first-ever African American tag team champs in WWE history.
Johnson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, and he also had a huge hand in influencing his son, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who became one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Friday, Johnson posted a video of his father’s wrestling highlights along with a touching tribute to the man who raised and influenced him:
“I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love. The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deeply complicated sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life’s invaluable lessons. Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side. But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back. I’m in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass. Now I’ll carry your mana and work ethic with me, as it’s time to move on because I have my family to feed and work to accomplish. Finally, I want you to rest your trailblazing soul, Soulman. Pain free, regret free, satisfied and at ease. You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high.”
The tributes to Johnson began pouring out on social media after Cauliflower Alley Club first announced the news on Twitter.
The WWE confirmed the news on their website shortly after.
Dwayne Johnson: Father ‘Made Me Who I Am Today’
Dwayne Johnson has also paid tribute to his father on social media in the past. On Father’s Day in 2018, The Rock posted an image of himself as a young boy posing with his father on Instagram, thanking his dad for the “tough love” that “made me who I am today.”
Rocky is survived by his third wife, Dana Martin, as well as Dwayne and his three daughters.