Beloved wrestling veteran Roddy Piper passed away Friday at the age of 61 in his California home. Piper suffered a heart attack shortly before his death, says Variety, but his agent Jay Schacter confirmed in a statement that the athlete died peacefully in his sleep.
Born Roderick George Toombs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, the WWE star joined the professional wrestling company in 1984 after being a part of the National Wrestling Alliance for several years. He retired in 2011 after appearing in over 7,000 matches. The wrestler was a villain for a majority of his career in the WWE, most known for his matches against other wrestling stars like Jack Brisco, Ric Flair, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and Hulk Hogan, who was coincidentally fired from the WWE only a couple days ago.
Piper was reportedly diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006, but was able to recover by 2014, according to MyFoxAtlanta. His wrestling career influenced countless other performers and fighters alike, even the MMA fighter Ronda Rousey who recently stepped into the limelight is using Piper’s “Rowdy” nickname after getting his permission once he retired.
Many friends and fellow wrestlers expressed their condolences on social media following the announcement, with WWE chairman Vince McMahon saying Piper was “one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world.” Filmmaker John Carpenter wrote on Facebook: “Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper’s passing today. He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend,” as the two worked together in Carpenter’s 1988 sci-fi film “They Live”. “Rest well friend, you will be missed. #lifeWellLived,” tweeted pro-wrestler John Layfield. The Iron Sheik also showed his grief with his tweet: “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you, Bubba.”
The Scottish-Canadian wrestler tragically left behind his wife, Kitty, and their four children.
Rest in peace, Roddy.