Pro Wrestling Icon Dusty Rhodes Dies at 69

Pro Wrestling Icon Dusty Rhodes Dies at 69

WWE Hall of Famer was one of the most influential grapplers of all time.

Published June 11, 2015

Dusty Rhodes, a pro wrestling hero and mentor, has passed away.

The WWE Hall of Famer died Thursday at the age of 69, as reported by WWE.com. The cause of his death is currently unknown, but Rhodes, real name Virgil Runnels, will forever be remembered amongst pro wrestling fans and beyond as "The American Dream," one of the most charismatic grapplers to ever step foot inside the squared circle.

Ric Flair was just one of the many wrestlers and fans who took to social media—where Rhodes is trending on Twitter—Thursday to express heartfelt condolences over the loss of the legendary wrestling. Flair and Rhodes engaged in a wrestling feud for many years.

"Today I lost one of my greatest opponents and greatest friends. He was the definition of heart and soul and I’m honored to have shared the ring with him countless times," Flair said in a statement to TMZ. "He became the 'American Dream' because wrestling needed a hero they could respect, and he was the man for the job. Dusty Rhodes, I will miss you my mentor and friend."

Like Flair, Rhodes' appeal and influence extended well past pro wrestling and into hip hop circles, where greats like Outkast and Lil Wayne immortalized him via rhymes.

Andre 3000 rhymed on Outkast's 1994 single, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," "Time to drop these 'bows like Dusty Rhodes," referencing the wrestling great's bionic elbow finishing move.

Rhodes was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his two sons, Dustin and Cody Runnels, back in March 2007. They continue to wrestle in the WWE to this day.

Rest in Peace to Dusty Rhodes. 

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(Photo: George Napolitano/Retna Ltd./Corbis)

Written by Mark Lelinwalla

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