Terry Funk, renowned as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in history, has sadly died. WWE confirmed his passing earlier today. A pro wrestling icon, Funk, 79, had faced health challenges in his later years, including a dementia diagnosis in 2021.
Terry Funk, a legendary wrestling superstar who performed around the world from 1965 until 2017, has passed away at the age of 79.
Following news of his passing, wrestling luminary Mick Foley, a close friend and fellow WWE Hall of Famer, joined the ranks of those honoring Funk’s legacy. “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,” he wrote on X. “There will never be another like him.”
Born to Texas wrestler and promoter Dory Funk, Terry Funk embarked on his wrestling journey within his father’s promotion, Western State Sports, in Amarillo, Texas. Spanning 1965 to 2017, his career featured a significant 14-month period as the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) world champion, beginning in 1975 when this title unified multiple regional territories. Renowned as a pioneer of “hardcore” wrestling, he earned widespread admiration from fans and colleagues alike for his unwavering professionalism.
Terry Funk solidified his reputation as a fierce brawler, nurturing fierce rivalries such as the renowned feud with Jerry Lawler, which culminated in a memorable empty-arena match, and a prolonged conflict with Ric Flair, highlighted by the stunning piledriver of Flair onto a ringside table.
Early on, Terry Funk formed a tag team with his brother, Dory Funk, before breaking out as a solo star.
Following stints in Japan, NWA, WWF, and WCW, Funk found a new lease on his career when he became part of Eastern Championship Wrestling, later rebranded as ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling). Japan was where he fully embraced the “hardcore” wrestling style, participating in grueling and brutal confrontations.
Beyond his wrestling endeavors, Terry Funk ventured into the world of cinema, appearing in various feature films. In 1987, he shared the screen with Sylvester Stallone, portraying the character Ruker. His involvement in the film showcased his versatility beyond the wrestling ring.
In 1989, Terry Funk embraced the role of a bouncer in Road House, appearing alongside Patrick Swayze. His cinematic journey continued in 2005 when he played the character Frankie in The Ringer, a film led by Johnny Knoxville. The plot revolves around a man’s unconventional strategy to eliminate a significant debt by participating in the Special Olympics under false pretenses.
Apart from his film appearances, Terry Funk extended his presence to television, featuring in shows like Good & Evil, Quantum Leap, and Swamp Thing. His most significant television role emerged in 1985 through Wildside, where he portrayed Prometheus Jones. Regrettably, the series had a brief run of only six aired episodes.
Terry Funk was ahead of his time from his wrestling style, to his ability to transition as a mainstream star, if he had been 30 years younger, he’d be a major aciton star.
Terry Funk also explored the realm of music with a brief yet intriguing venture – the release of the album Great Texas in 1984. This musical endeavor marked a departure from the wrestling ring, as Funk delved into a soft rock AOR direction that added another layer to his creative repertoire. Despite the album’s mixed critical reception, it has etched its place as a cult classic, embraced by fervent fans who appreciate its distinctive contribution to Funk’s multifaceted journey.
The passing of Terry Funk has undeniably brought devastation to friends and family. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to them as they navigate this challenging time. Terry leaves behind his two daughters, Stacy and Brandee, born to his late wife, Vicky Ann, who tragically passed away in 2019.