Former AWA World Heavyweight Champion and pro wrestling legend Nick Bockwinkel passed away yesterday at the age of 80.
WWE has issued a statement on his passing:
Bockwinkel, known for his great in-ring skill and intelligent interviews, began his sports entertainment career in the mid-1950s after concluding his time on the University of Oklahoma football team. Bockwinkel was trained by his famous father, Warren Bockwinkel, and wrestling legend, Lou Thesz. Nick teamed with his father on many occasions, competing in Georgia, Texas and the Pacific Northwest before moving on to the where he would find the most success: the American Wrestling Association.
Bockwinkel was famously managed by WWE Hall of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan during his AWA tenure, with the two drawing the ire of crowds everywhere. The self-proclaimed “Smartest Wrestler Alive” did it all during his time in AWA, with his crowning accomplishment coming when he defeated fellow WWE Hall of Famer and AWA legend Verne Gagne to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship, ending Gagne’s historic seven-year run with the title.
Bockwinkel would go on to accumulate many more accolades as his career went on. From his nationally televised rivalry with Larry Zbyszko on ESPN to guest starring on “Hawaii Five-O,” the legend truly did it all. It was only fitting that his great career be capped off by his 2007 induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, where he will forever be enshrined as one of sports entertainments’ all-time greats.
WWE extends its condolences to Bockwinkel’s family, friends and fans.