LUTZ — Rocky Johnson, father of Hollywood actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and who carved out his own place in pro wrestling history as Florida’s first African American heavyweight champion, has died. He was 75.
Johnson moved last year to a home his son bought him in Lutz and recently released an autobiography already optioned for film by The Rock, titled Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story.
Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champion in the history of Texas, Georgia and Florida, winning the Florida title in 1975 at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. The Tampa wrestling mecca is close to the neighborhood where Johnson lived while he performed with Championship Wrestling From Florida.
Recently, Johnson had been working as a promoter of Legends Fan Fests in Lutz, where wrestling fans meet wrestling icons
He was best known for his drop kick — leaping off the ground and slamming both feet into an opponent’s chest or face. But he also excited crowds with legitimate boxing skills like jabs and footwork.
“He was so electric," Barry Rose, 56, of Philadelphia, told the Times then. Rose was a kid growing up in South Florida when he served as president of the Rocky Johnson Fan Club in the 1970s.