Pro wrestling legend Terry Funk has died at age 79. Funk’s career spanned more than 50 years and he was hugely influential in the development of hardcore wrestling.
Terrence Funk was born on June 30, 1944 in Hammond, Ind., the son of pro wrestler and promoter Dory Funk, Sr. Funk began wrestling in 1965, working in his father’s promotion, Western States Sports. Together with his brother, fellow WWE Hall of Famer Dory Funk, Jr., Funk formed a successful tag team and quickly rose up the ranks.
Funk was widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in the history of the sport. His storied careers spanned several decades, starting in 1965 until he stepped away in 2017.
His influence impacted multiple generations. He was a part of several wrestling promotions, including Western States Sports. Terry’s father, Dory Funk, ran the Western States Sports promotion, which is where Terry started his career.
Funk took his talents all over the world, becoming a star in All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion alongside his brother Dory. In 1995, while wrestling between All Japan and Extreme Championship Wrestling in the U.S., Funk mentored the young wrestler Mick Foley, who was then going by the name Cactus Jack. Their “death match” that year popularized the style of harcore wrestling around the world.
“We just lost a legend. Terry Funk is gone,” Foley wrote on social media. “He was my mentor, my idol, and one of my closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw.”
“There will never be another like him,” Foley continued. “May God bless Terry, his friends, family and all who loved him. RIP my dear friend — it was an honor to know you.”
Like many pro wrestlers, Funk moonlighted in films and television shows, appearing in the Sylvester Stallone armwrestling drama Over the Top and the Patrick Swayze action thriller Road House, as well as episodes of Swamp Thing, Quantum Leap, and The Adventures of Brisco Country, Jr. Funk even had a brief career in music, releasing three albums of soft rock.
Funk would routinely retire only to return to the ring over the years before he finally called it quits in September 2017. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009.
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