Johnson in 1975
|Birth name||Wayde Douglas Bowles|
|Born||August 24, 1944|
Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada
|Residence||Davie, Florida, U.S.|
(m. 1962; div. 1968)
(m. 1970; div. 2003)
|Children||3, including Dwayne Johnson|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Sweet Ebony Diamond|
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||260 lb (120 kg; 18 st 8 lb)|
|Billed from||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
Washington, D.C., United States
|Trained by||Peter Maivia|
Kurt Von Steiger
Rocky Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles; August 24, 1944) is a Canadian retired professional wrestler. During his wrestling career, he became a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Georgia Champion and a NWA Southern Heavyweight Memphis Champion, as well as winning many other championships. Along with his partner Tony Atlas, Johnson was a part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Rocky Johnson was born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where he was raised, the fourth of five sons of Lillian (née Gay) and James Henry Bowles (1888-1967). A Black Nova Scotian, he is descended from Black Loyalists who immigrated to Nova Scotia after escaping from a southern plantation in the United States after the American Revolutionary War, and also has a small amount of Irish ancestry. At the age of 16, Johnson moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he began wrestling and worked as a truck driver. Initially, he trained to be a boxer and eventually sparred with greats such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, but he was always fascinated by wrestling.
Johnson began his career as a professional wrestler in 1964, in Southern Ontario; soon after his debut, he legally changed his name to his "Rocky Johnson" moniker. In 1969 he wrestled for the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
He was a top contender in the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s, receiving title matches against then-World Champions Terry Funk and Harley Race. He was well-suited to tag team wrestling, winning several regional tag team championships in the NWA. Johnson wrestled off and on in the Memphis promotion, often feuding with Jerry Lawler, winning Lawler's crown at one point. He also wrestled under a mask as "Sweet Ebony Diamond" in the Mid-Atlantic area.
In 1982, he was recruited by the World Wrestling Federation where he feuded with Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Mike Sharpe, Buddy Rose, and Adrian Adonis. He was then paired with Tony Atlas as a tag team. They defeated the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) for the Tag Team Championship on November 15, 1983. They were the first black tag team to hold the tag title. Together, Johnson and Atlas were known as "The Soul Patrol".
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After retiring in 1991, Johnson along with Pat Patterson, trained his son Dwayne to wrestle. While he initially resisted his son's entry into the business because he knew it was extremely difficult, he agreed to train his son on the condition that he would not go easy on him. Johnson was instrumental in getting Dwayne (later dubbed "Rocky Maivia" after both Rocky Johnson's and Peter Maivia's ring names) signed to a WWF developmental deal. Initially, Johnson had an on-camera presence at his son's matches, jumping into the ring on his son's behalf after he was attacked by The Sultan and The Iron Sheik at WrestleMania 13. Johnson was not seen on-camera again after the Rocky Maivia character flopped, but this was actually a blessing, as his son achieved crossover popularity as a cocky heel, The Rock.
Johnson was hired as a trainer for the WWE developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, in early 2003 but was let go in May of that year. He made a return in ring appaerance defeating Mabel in a boxing match at Memphis Wrestling on November 29, 2003. On February 25, 2008, Johnson was announced as an inductee for the 2008 class of the WWE Hall of Fame along with his father-in-law "High Chief" Peter Maivia. Both he and his father-in-law were inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 29, 2008 by his son, The Rock.
Johnson married into a prolific Samoan wrestling family, which included the Anoa'i family, by marrying "High Chief" Peter Maivia's daughter Ata Maivia. Ata met Rocky after Maivia and Johnson were tag team partners in a match on the independent scene. Maivia disapproved of the relationship--not because of anything personal against Johnson, but because of Johnson's chosen profession, as he knew first hand how hard it was for the wrestlers' families who were at home while they were constantly on the road. The couple had a son, Dwayne, on May 2, 1972. In his first television acting job, Dwayne Johnson portrayed his father in a season 1 (1999) episode of That '70s Show called "That Wrestling Show".
As of at least 2003, Johnson lives in Davie, Florida. He and Ata divorced in 2003. He also has two other children, as he announced during his 2008 Hall of Fame induction: a son, Curtis, and a daughter, Wanda, from his first marriage. Johnson is the first non-Samoan to be named High Chief, and was given the title High Chief Tafiaiafi.
Growing up, Mr. Johnson was known as Wayde Bowles
In 1964, the already ripped twenty-year-old debuted as a wrestler in the southern Ontario area. He took on the ring name Rocky Johnson, and wound up liking it so much that he soon had his name legally changed.
He was born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia, in 1944, the fourth of five sons born to James Henry Bowles and Lillian Bowles. His family was descended from slaves who had escaped the plantations of the American South