WWE: Gene Okerlund, wrestling interviewer, dies at 76
The wrestling world has been rocked by the death of "Mean" Gene Okerlund, the veteran interviewer who was as much a part of WWE as Spandex and chokeholds.
Renowned for his announcing, ringside commentary and chats with such stars as Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura, his death at 76 was announced by the WWE company.
In a tweet, the company described him as "the most recognisable interviewer in sports-entertainment history."
"Mean Gene I love you my brother," wrote Hogan in his own Twitter tribute.
Others to pay homage included wrestler turned actor Steve Austin, who said he was "untouchable" and "simply the best".
Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice.— Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) January 2, 2019
Condolences to his friends and family.
A voice of my childhood, and one of the greatest of all time — you will be missed, Gene. 🙏 https://t.co/15kNprnbRd— Nattie (@NatbyNature) January 2, 2019
Born Eugene Okerlund in 1942, "Mean Gene" came to prominence by interviewing the stars of the American Wrestling Association (AWA).
His nickname was coined by Jesse "The Body" Ventura, despite Okerlund being renowned for his friendly disposition.
Okerlund's long career spanned the AWA, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006.
Okerlund, who had kidney transplants in 1995 and 2004, made his last appearance on WWE TV in January 2018.
Yet he continued to make personal appearances and was seen in a soft drinks commercial alongside comedian Kevin Hart last May.
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