Most people, especially the young wrestling fans, are tempted to call it a “slip-up” when the name Rocky Johnson is mentioned. They are quick to point out that it is probably a mistaken reference to former wrestling champion Dwayne Johnson, popularly known as The Rock. But you can forgive their ignorance, not knowing that “Rocky” existed before “The Rock” existed.
Speaking of “The Rock”, fans of both the WWE and Hollywood are impressed by the seemingly simple way in which the former WWE superstar from the WWE became a sought-after movie star who has proven himself capable of fitting into any role he is given. Whether comedy, science fiction, epic, crime thriller, or action movie, Dwayne managed everything in a short time. But for the record: Dwayne Johnson is the son of Rocky Johnson.
Wayde Douglas Bowles is his birth name, but he is widely known as Rocky Johnson. He was, like his son, a professional wrestler before he retired. Johnson was born on August 24, 1943, in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada. His parents were James Henry and Linda Bowles, who had five sons, and Johnson was their fourth child.
Life became hard for young Johnson when his father died when he was thirteen years old. He was forced to leave home because his mother preferred her boyfriend to him. Growing up in Amherst, Nova Scotia, he wandered homeless and destitute for three years until, as a 16-year-old boy, he moved to Toronto, Ontario, to find opportunities for himself.
In Toronto, he secured a job as a truck driver and also became involved in local wrestling. He was fascinated by this sport and originally wanted to become a boxer when he came into contact with famous boxers of the time like Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in a gym and even became their sparring partner during training. But his love for wrestling took over and made him a winner.
By the age of 21, Rocky Johnson had already turned pro, had wrestled professionally in Southern Ontario, and was well on his way to breaking new ground. He began by dropping his birth name “Wayde Douglas Bowles” and legally registering a new name – Rocky Johnson. He joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and rose to become one of the Alliance’s best fighters after being trained by legendary High Chief Peter Maivia himself.
Before joining the NWA in 1970, he had already fought champions from around the world in his wrestling career. At the NWA he won many regional titles, but could not dethrone the world champions to become world champion in two attempts – first against Terry Funk and then against Harley Race. During his fights in the NWA, he wore a mask and wore the ring name “Sweet Ebony Diamond”.
In 1983 he joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and had a rewarding tag-team partnership with Tony Atlas, known as the “Soul Patrol”. Together they won the 1983 tag-team championship as the first black wrestler ever after defeating the Wild Samoans. During his time at WWF, he also had feuds with other wrestlers such as Greg Valentine, Adrian Adonis, Mike Sharpe, etc.
Rocky Johnson retired from active wrestling in 1991 and turned his attention to raising another “Rocky Johnson” in the form of his son Dwayne. He enlisted the help of his friend and wrestling colleague Pat Patterson to shape the young Dwayne. He was later hired to work with the WWE development program in 2003 and later released.
Family Life – Wife, Son
Johnson’s first marriage was to a lady named Una. The date of their marriage seems contradictory from online sources, but they were married in the 1960s and had two children together before they were divorced in 1968. The children’s names are Curtis, a son, and a daughter named Wanda.
His relationship with the legendary High Chief Peter Maivia passed from mentor and instructor to in-laws when he married his daughter Ata Maivia in December 1970 (her full name is Feagaimaleta Fitisemanu Maiva). Her family comes from the prolific Anoa’i wrestling family, which has a long list of remarkable wrestlers in its bloodline. However, her father Peter did not approve of her relationship with Rocky Johnson, because he felt that his daughter needed a man who would be there for her, knowing the challenging career of wrestlers.
The marriage would last anyway, and it produced a son – Dwayne Johnson, born May 2, 1972. Their marriage lasted over three decades but soon fell apart in February 2003. A year after his divorce from Ata Maivia Johnson, he returned to the marriage equation, this time with Dana Martin in 2004.
Is Rocky Johnson Dead – Where is He Now?
Rocky Johnson is not dead but has retired from active wrestling. And although he did so a bit early, he now lives with his wife Dana Martin in Davie, Florida. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, and a project is currently underway that will record his life and career in a biopic. The idea for the project was developed by filmmakers Jonathan and Justin Gajewski, best known as JG Brothers. The title of the film will be Ring King.
If you put the pictures of Rocky Johnson (in his wrestling days) and his son Dwayne next to each other, you will see that the man was a hunk. His body was well-built to take the punches and at the same time to perform powerful, well-aimed punches and kicks and crush his opponents. Johnson stands at a height of 193 cm (6 feet 4 inches) and weighs 120 kg (260 pounds).