Pro wrestler Terry Funk has died, according to WWE and pro wrestler Mick Foley. Funk was 79 years old.
Along with wrestling, the highly respected performer worked in film, including multiple Sylvester Stallone projects as far back as 1978’s “Paradise Alley.” Funk also appeared in “Over the Top,” did stunts in “Rocky III” and choreographed the climactic fight in “Rocky V.”
Funk was also featured in the cult classic film “Road House” and Johnny Knoxville’s “The Ringer.” He also had TV roles on shows such as “Quantum Leap” and “Swamp Thing.”
Funk was best known in his later years for pioneering “hardcore” wrestling, which involves using weapons and sharp objects, such as barbed wire, to both simulate and cause actual damage in order to increase the drama in a match. This often involved copious amounts of bleeding. Funk was also infamous for wrestling multiple “retirement” matches before quickly coming back afterward.
Foley, who helped to elevate hardcore wrestling’s profile on a national scale, shared the news after hearing it from Funk’s daughter Brandee.
“Terry Funk is gone,” Foley wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter). “He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw. If you get the chance, look up a Terry Funk match or a Terry Funk promo, and give thanks that this incredible man gave so much, for so long, to so many. There will never be another like him. May God bless Terry, his friends, family and all who loved him. RIP my dear friend – it was an honor to know you.”
Numerous wrestlers and fans paid tribute and shared their memories of Funk on social media.
“In my entire life, I’ve never met a guy who worked harder,” wrote famed numerous-time world champion Ric Flair. “I’ve never met a guy who worked harder. Terry Funk was a great wrestler, entertainer, unbelievably fearless, and a great friend!”
“Just heard that Terry Funk is gone. Truly heartbroken over this,” wrote wrestler Dustin Rhodes. Both Rhodes and Funk were part of wrestling families. Funk’s father was wrestler Dory Funk and his brother is Dory Funk Jr., both known for their work in Texas territory wrestling. Rhodes is the son of the legendary Dusty Rhodes and current WWE headliner Cody Rhodes.
“He has known me since I was a child,” Dustin Rhodes continued. “He was an incredible mentor and friend. Love him so much and sad to see him go. I know he is no longer in pain and has probably rekindled his war with Pops in heaven. Rest easy TF.”
“I’m very sad to hear of the passing of a true legend & a great person, Terry Funk,” wrote Taz, a former wrestler and current commentator for WWE rival AEW. “Several of us had the honor & pleasure of being at his Double Cross Ranch many years ago after a show in Amarillo, I’ll never forget that!! Words can’t explain how Terry was just GREAT on so many levels.”
Funk was inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2009 and is a member of numerous other halls of fame, as well as being widely respected by his peers and fans. You can watch one of Funk and Foley’s matches here, as well as one of Funk’s interviews from their feud in ECW.