Rocky Johnson

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Rocky Johnson
Birth name Wayde Douglas Bowles
Born (1944-08-24) August 24, 1944 (age 73)
Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada
Residence Davie, Florida, U.S.
Spouse(s) Una Johnson
(m. 1962; div. 1968)

Ata Maivia
(m. 1970; div. 2003)

Dana Martin
(m. 2004)
Children 3, including Dwayne Johnson
Family Anoa'i
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Sweet Ebony Diamond[1]
Drew Glasteau[1]
Rocky Johnson[1]
Billed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[2]
Billed weight 260 lb (120 kg; 19 st)
Billed from Toronto, Ontario, Canada[3]
Washington, D.C., United States
Trained by Peter Maivia[3]
Rocky Bollie[1]
Kurt Von Steiger[1]
Debut 1964[1]
Retired 1991

Rocky Johnson[4] (born Wayde Douglas Bowles;[5] August 24, 1944[1]) is a Canadian retired professional wrestler. During his wrestling career, he became a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) Georgia Champion and a NWA Southern Heavyweight Memphis Champion, as well as winning many other championships. Along with his partner Tony Atlas, Johnson was a part of the first black tag team to win the World Tag Team championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[6]

He is the father of American actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.[7]

Early life

Rocky Johnson was born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where he was raised, the fourth of five sons of Lillian (née Gay) and James Henry Bowles.[2][5] A Black Nova Scotian, he is descended from Black Loyalists who emigrated to Nova Scotia after escaping from a southern plantation in the United States after the American Revolutionary War.[5] At the age of 16, Johnson moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he began wrestling and worked as a truck driver.[8] Initially, he trained to be a boxer and eventually sparred with greats such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, but he was always fascinated by wrestling.[2]

Professional wrestling career

National Wrestling Alliance

Johnson began his career as a professional wrestler in 1964, in Southern Ontario; soon after his debut, he legally changed his name to his "Rocky Johnson" moniker.[1][3][4]

He was a top contender in the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s, receiving title matches against then-World Champions Terry Funk and Harley Race.[3] He was well-suited to tag team wrestling, winning several regional tag team championships in the NWA. Johnson wrestled off and on in the Memphis promotion, often feuding with Jerry Lawler, winning Lawler's crown at one point. He also wrestled under a mask as "Sweet Ebony Diamond" in the Mid-Atlantic area.

World Wrestling Federation

In 1983, he was recruited by the World Wrestling Federation where he feuded with Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Mike Sharpe, Buddy Rose, and Adrian Adonis. He was then paired with Tony Atlas as a tag team.[3] They defeated the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) for the Tag Team Championship on November 15, 1983.[7] They were the first black tag team to hold the tag title.[3] Together, Johnson and Atlas were known as "The Soul Patrol".


After retiring in 1991, Johnson along with Pat Patterson, trained his son Dwayne to wrestle. While he initially resisted his son's entry into the business because he knew it was extremely difficult, he agreed to train his son on the condition that he would not go easy on him. Johnson was instrumental in getting Dwayne (later dubbed "Rocky Maivia" after both Rocky Johnson's and Peter Maivia's ring names) signed to a WWF developmental deal. Initially, Johnson had an on-camera presence at his son's matches, jumping into the ring on his son's behalf after he was attacked by The Sultan and The Iron Sheik at WrestleMania 13. Johnson was not seen on-camera again after the Rocky Maivia character flopped, but this was actually a blessing, as his son achieved crossover popularity as a cocky heel, The Rock.

Johnson was hired as a trainer for the WWE developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, in early 2003 but was let go in May of that year. On February 25, 2008, Johnson was announced as an inductee for the 2008 class of the WWE Hall of Fame along with his father-in-law "High Chief" Peter Maivia. Both he and his father-in-law were inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 29, 2008 by his son, The Rock.

Personal life

Johnson married into a prolific Samoan wrestling family, which included the Anoa'i family, by marrying "High Chief" Peter Maivia's daughter Ata Maivia.[3] Ata met Rocky after Maivia and Johnson were tag team partners in a match on the independent scene. Maivia disapproved of the relationship—not because of anything personal against Johnson, but because of Johnson's chosen profession, as he knew first hand how hard it was for the wrestlers' families who were at home while they were constantly on the road.[9] The couple had a son, Dwayne, on May 2, 1972. In his first television acting job, Dwayne Johnson portrayed his father in a season 1 (1999) episode of That '70s Show called "That Wrestling Show".

Johnson currently lives in Davie, Florida. He and Ata divorced in 2003.[10] He also has two other children, as he announced during his 2008 Hall of Fame induction, a son Curtis, and a daughter Wanda from his first marriage in 1967. Johnson is honoured as being the first non-Samoan to be named High Chief. His title is High Chief Tafiaiafi.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rocky Johnson Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  2. ^ a b c "Rocky Johnson returns home". SLAM! Sports. 2005-07-16. Retrieved 2010-09-03. Growing up, Mr. Johnson was known as Wayde Bowles 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rocky Johnson: Hall of Fame". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  4. ^ a b c Solomon, Brian (2006). WWE Legends. Simon and Schuster. p. 146. ISBN 0-7434-9033-9. He was born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia, in 1944, the fourth of five sons born to James Henry Bowles and Lillian Bowles. His family was descended from slaves who had escaped the plantations of the American South 
  5. ^ "Superstars". 
  6. ^ a b Foley, Mick. Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks (p.36)
  7. ^ "Soulman" Rocky Johnson Samoan Pro Wrestling Page of Fame. Accessed on September 3, 2010.
  8. ^ Rock, The. The Rock Says... (p. 6–7).
  9. ^ "Rocky Johnson: The unknown WWE trainer". Slam! Sports. 2003-08-20. Retrieved 2010-08-25. 
  10. ^ "An Illustrated History of Professional Wrestling in Northern California: Action Photos 21". Archived from the original on 2011-11-15. 
  11. ^ "NWA World Tag Team Championship (Detroit version) history". 
  12. ^ "NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Florida version) history". 
  13. ^ "NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship history". 
  14. ^ "NWA Florida Tag Team Championship history". 
  15. ^ "NWA Florida Television Championship history". 
  16. ^ "AWA Southern Tag Team Championship history". 
  17. ^ "NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship history". 
  18. ^ "NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship history". 
  19. ^ "NWA Macon Tag Team Championship history". 
  20. ^ "WCW World Television Championship history". Archived from the original on 2008-04-12. 
  21. ^ "NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) history". 
  22. ^ "NWA Texas Hardcore Championship history". 
  23. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship history". 
  24. ^ "NWA Texas Tag Team Championship history". 
  25. ^ "NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship history". 
  26. ^ "NWA Americas Tag Team Championship history". 
  27. ^ "NWA Beat the Champ Television Championship history". 
  28. ^ "CWA/AWA International Tag Team Championship history". 
  29. ^ "Memphis Wrestling Southern Heavyweight Championship history". 
  30. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (San Francisco version) history". 
  31. ^ "NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) history". 
  32. ^ "NWA Polynesian Pacific Tag Team Title (Hawaii)". 
  33. ^ "NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship history". 
  34. ^ "NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship history". 
  35. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Top 500 Wrestlers of the PWI Years". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  36. ^ "Rocky Johnson's and Tony Atlas' first World Tag Team Championship reign". 

Further reading

  • Mick Foley (2000). Have A Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. HarperCollins. p. 768. ISBN 0-06-103101-1. 

External links

  • Rocky Johnson on
  • Rocky Johnson's profile at,, Internet Wrestling Database
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