Terry Funk, One of the Baddest Dudes in Wrestling, Passed Away at 79
When it comes to the long line of professional wrestlers that throw caution to the wind in service of a good show, few names exist that will always stand heads and shoulders above the rest. And sadly we lost one yesterday with the passing of the great Terry Funk.
At 79 years old, Funk had become an outlier in the wrestling industry — he lived to a very old age despite his past antics. As the godfather of hardcore wrestling, Funk put himself (and his opponents) through a considerable amount of hell in the ring. He’d become an elder statesman of the wrestling world after his final match back in 2017 as a 73 year old.
Now, I know what you’re going to say — “it’s all fake, though” — and that’s mostly true. But you can’t fake landing on barbed wire or thumb tacks. You can’t fake being branded with a hot iron. Those actions take a toll and despite the damage he did, Funk became an elder statesman after his final match as a 73 year old.
But to remember Funk as only a hardcore wrestler would be doing the man a slight disservice. His career spanned more than 50 years, with his initial start coming back in 1965 as a performer in his father’s wrestling promotion, Western States Sports. In the years that followed, he worked with icons like Mick Foley and Hulk Hogan, became a tag champion with his brother Dory Funk Jr., and landed in countless promotions from WWE and ECW to All Japan Pro Wrestling and scores of indie shows. The dude was a workhorse.
And then there were the movie roles in flicks like Road House, Over the Top, and The Wringer. He was on TV shows like Quantum Leap, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and Thunder in Paradise. The dude thrived in front of a camera.
Mick Foley, who went on to work with Funk numerous times over the years for some iconic (and insanely bloody) matches confirmed the wrestler’s death on social media yesterday. In his message to fans, he lionized the man he called a mentor, urging everyone to watch Funk’s matches.
“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. There will never be another like him.”
He’s right. We’ll never get another performer like the great Terry Funk.