Legendary professional wrestling ringside interviewer “Mean” Gene Okerlund, is dead.
The news of his death was made public by World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE on Wednesday. He was 76.
The WWE star was a familiar face and voice for generations of wrestling fanatics.
He chronicled the exploits of larger-than-life figures including Hollywood Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, over his nearly half-century career.
In 1984, Okerlund came into the WWE, endearing himself to a national audience as host and commentator on shows including “Tuesday Night Titans” and “Prime Time Wrestling.”
At the inaugural WrestleMania in 1985, it was the versatile Okerlund who belted out the National Anthem.
Okerlund was on the move again in 1993, joining World Championship Wrestling as lead interviewer, but in 2001 returned to WWE, where he inked a lifetime contract.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, by longtime subject Hogan.
The cause of death was not released, but Okerlund has suffered serious health setbacks, including kidney transplants in 1995 and 2004 respectively.
“As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best,” tweeted “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
“Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humour, and that golden voice.”
“Mean Gene,” tweeted Hogan on Wednesday, “I love you my brother.”