Wrestling legend Virgil Runnels, more popularly known as Dusty Rhodes, passed away on June 10 at the age of 69.
Dusty Rhodes has passed away at the age of 69.
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The official World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) website issued a press release on Rhodes' passing on Thursday, June 11:
"WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes -- WWE Hall of Famer, three-time NWA Champion and one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history -- passed away at the age of 69.
"Runnels became hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit. Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.
"WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Runnels' family, friends and colleagues."
ESPN was able to reach out to a WWE spokesman, who declined to specify how or where Runnels died. All he said was the Runnels family requested the information not be released to the public.
According to TMZ Sports, paramedics arrived at Runnels' Orlando residence at 5:56 a.m. ET on June 10 after receiving a call saying he "had taken a fall."
They took him to a nearby hospital where he suffered "numerous complications" and then died. Runnels' family immediately went to the said hospital once they found out about his situation, per TMZ Sports.
In a separate TMZ Sports update, wrestling legend Jerry Brisco revealed he hung out with Runnels in Orlando on June 4. Runnels told him he needed to bring his blood pressure down, and his weight loss had been helping him achieve that goal.
Brisco told TMZ Sports he and Runnels were planning on attending "Championship Wrestling from Florida" on June 11 in Tampa.
Runnels made a name for himself as a wrestler in the 1970s and 1980s. He was known for wearing attire adorned with yellow polka dots and his finishing move, the "bionic elbow," per ESPN.
He wasn't as physically gifted as his other then-WWF contemporaries, but his gift of gab behind the microphone was a hit with wrestling fans worldwide, per ESPN.
After his retirement, Runnels worked at WWE's Performance Center in Orlando, Fl., per ESPN.
Longtime WWE broadcaster Jim Ross told ESPN in a phone interview he was "heartbroken" after learning Runnels, whom he worked with after his retirement, passed away:
"He was arguably the most charismatic performer of all time. His amazing unique verbal styling will never be duplicated or exceeded. He was exactly what he portrayed on TV: A blue-collar, common man, who rose from being the son of a farmer to being a part of American pop culture, whose memory will live forever.
"Therefore, for many, he was truly the American Dream.
"Hopefully today's performers will understand how committed he was to his craft, how much he was in love with (the) wrestling business and how much he was a natural extension of himself.
"If they are paying attention to what they'll do...No matter what you do -- wrestlers or anybody else -- you have to commit yourself to always be yourself. Dusty was always himself."
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