The Rock is one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all-time, but before he ever stepped into the ring his father made a name for himself in the industry.
Going by the ring name “Soul Man” Rocky Johnson, he became a pioneer in the business and inspiration to hos son.
He passed away at the age of 75.
The WWE Hall of Famer and former World Tag Team Champion began his wrestling career in the 1960s in the National Wrestling Alliance. He joined the WWE in the early 1980s just before Vince Mcmahon Jr. took his father’s then WWWWF national and then global.
He was a native of Nova Scotia and told
CBC News Nova Scotia at Six this past October about how left home as a teenager.
“I hit him in the head with a coal shovel and then the police came and said one of them would have to go. I didn’t understand because I was young. [My mom] said, ‘You go,’ and I just packed my suitcase,” Johnson said.
“I was determined to do something, so I took off and went to Toronto.”
When Johnson got to Toronto, he started boxing at Trinity Community Recreation Centre and caught the eye of a pro wrestler who introduced him to the business.
“He said, ‘Hey, come on in, I’ll teach you a couple of holds.’ I didn’t know then he was using me for a punching bag. He didn’t hurt me or anything … and then I got hooked on it,” Johnson said.
In the then WWF which would become WWE, “The Soul Man” would team up with Tony Atlas under the team nickname “The Soul Patrol.” They were the first African-American World Tag Team Champions in WWE history, according to the WWE.
It was during this era, his son would be introduced to his idols backstage such as Hulk Hogan. In 1991, Rocky Johnson retired from the sport and would end up training The Rock who would debut in 1996 under the monkiker of Rocky Maivia which was a name to honor hos father and uncle at the same. The rest is history as they say as he would become World Champion and later on Hollywood’s highest paid actor.