Well-known interviewer and WWE Hall of Famer “Mean” Gene Okerlund has died, WWE officials confirmed Wednesday. He was 76 years old.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away,” the company said in a statement. “WWE extends its condolences to Okerlund’s family, friends and fans.”
Okerlund began his career in sports entertainment in the 1970s, with backstage interviews with stars of the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association, including Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Hulk Hogan, according to the WWE.
In 1984, he moved to the what was then called the World Wrestling Federation, where he became a staple on national cable television as a locker room interviewer and announcer. He also provided ringside commentary and hosted several WWE shows, including “All-American Wrestling,” “Tuesday Night Titans” and “Prime Time Wrestling.”
He famously stepped into the ring in the 1980s, according to TMZ, defeating Mr. Fuji and George “The Animal” Steele alongside Hulk Hogan.
Okerlund left the WWE to join World Champion Wrestling in the early 1990s, but he returned to the WWE when the company purchased WCW in 2002, according to SB Nation.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Hulk Hogan.
“Mean Gene I love you my brother,” the wrestler wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
Fans, friends and former colleagues took to social media to remember Okerlund.
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