Professional wrestling legend Terry Funk dies at 79

Professional wrestling legend Terry Funk dies at 79

Terry Funk during the WWE 2011 Hall of Fame Induction on April 2, 2011, at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. (Photo by George Napolitano/FilmMagic)

Terry Funk during the WWE 2011 Hall of Fame Induction on April 2, 2011, at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. (Photo by George Napolitano/FilmMagic)

Professional wrestling legend Terry Funk has passed away. He was 79 years old.

Wrestling icons Ric Flair and Mick Foley acknowledged the news Wednesday afternoon. WWE confirmed it shortly after.

Funk, whose in-ring career spanned six decades, wrestled for nearly every major U.S. wrestling promotion, winning countless championships and earning accolades across the industry. He spent the majority of his early career as a tag-team partner with his brother, Dory Funk Jr., working in his father’s Western States Sports promotion in Amarillo, Texas, in the 1960s.

As a singles competitor, arguably Funk’s biggest career moment came in 1975, when he captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a match against Jack Brisco. Funk held the prestigious title for more than a year. Funk’s victory, combined with Dory Jr.’s title reign years earlier, gave the duo the distinction as the only brothers to both hold the championship.

Known primarily as a brawler, Funk’s style helped make him and his brother stars both in the U.S. and overseas in All Japan Pro Wrestling. Later in his career, Funk helped pioneer the “hardcore” style of wrestling during his memorable feud with Ric Flair in World Championship Wrestling, competing in the International Wrestling Association of Japan’s “King of the Death Match Tournament” and eventually joining Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Funk had several stints with WWE, the most impactful of which came during the promotion’s heralded “Attitude Era” in the late 1990s. Performing initially as “Chainsaw Charlie” and then under his actual name, Funk both teamed and feuded with Foley, who also helped popularize hardcore wrestling as Cactus Jack in the 1990s. In fact, Funk and Foley competed in the finals of the aforementioned “King of the Death Match Tournament” in 1995.

Funk’s career continued until 2017, with stints in ECW, WCW, TNA, WWE, All Japan and various other independent promotions. Funk was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside his brother in 2009. He’s also a member of the NWA, International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame and the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, among others. Funk won the Iron Mike Mazurki Award from the prestigious Cauliflower Alley Club in 2005.

In addition to his professional wrestling career, Funk appeared in several movies and TV shows, including “Over the Top,” “Road House” and stunt work on both “Rambo III” and “Rocky V.”

Funk’s health issues became public in 2021, when wrestling legend Don Muraco revealed that Funk had been suffering from dementia and was in an assisted living facility. His Twitter account later confirmed that he was dealing with multiple health issues.

News of Funk’s passing sparked an outpouring of emotion from the wrestling world.

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