Terry Funk, wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer, dies at 79
Funk was a pioneer of hardcore wrestling and a mentor to Mick Foley, who also called Funk his “idol” and “one of my closest friends.”
Lester Fabian Brathwaite
Professional wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer 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.
The WWE mourned Funk’s passing, noting that he was “revered by fans and peers across the globe for his tenacity, heart, and longevity.”
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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 broke through as a singles star when he defeated Jack Brisco to capture the NWA World Championship in 1975. Known for his brutal wrestling style, Funk developed numerous rivalries during his career, most notably with Jerry Lawler and Ric Flair. Funk and Flair’s 1989 “I Quit” match for World Championship Wrestling is considered one of pro wrestling’s all-time greats.
Flair shared photos of himself and Funk on social media, writing, “In my entire life, I’ve never met a guy who worked harder Terry Funk was a great wrestler, entertainer, unbelievably fearless, and a great friend! Rest in peace, my friend Terry Funk, knowing that no one will ever replace you in the world of professional wrestling!”
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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