Terry Funk, legendary Hall of Fame pro wrestler, dead at 79 — rest in peace

The wrestling world has lost one of its all-time legends: Terry Funk, a WWE Hall of Famer and pioneer of hardcore wrestling, has died at 79.

His death was confirmed in a release by WWE; a cause of death was not listed, though it was reported in 2021 that Funk was suffering from dementia.

“Revered by fans and peers across the globe for his tenacity, heart and longevity, Funk will be remembered as one of the toughest competitors to ever step inside the squared circle,” the WWE’s statement reads.

Funk was known for the impressive longevity of his career: he wrestled for four decades. Born June 30, 1944 in Hammond, Indiana, he was the son of wrestler and promoter Dory Funk, and made his debut in 1965 in his father’s Western States Sports promotion, alongside his brother Dory Funk Jr.

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In 1975, Funk defeated Jack Brisco to become NWA World Heavyweight Champion, holding the title for 14 months.

He also achieved fame abroad with All Japan Pro Wrestling, becoming one of the promotion’s most legendary wrestlers.

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He made his WWF debut in 1985, during the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling era, wrestling alongside his brother.

He achieved further fame in the WCW, which included a rivalry with Ric Flair that led to an “I Quit” match still regarded as an all-time classic.

Funk is regarded as a pioneer of hardcore wrestling: he was known for his brutal, bloody matches and use of unconventional weapons in the ring.

A charismatic performer, Funk was known as a tough and unpredictable wrestler who would often employ unusual props, most famously a branding iron that he would use to “brand” his opponents.

UNDATED: Wrestler Terry Funk looks on in the hallway. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

In the 1990s, he helped popularize Extreme Championship Wrestling, wrestling younger opponents while he was in his 50s, and was a major influence on the growing number of hardcore wrestling promotions.

Funk’s wrestling career lasted nearly 50 years; he demonstrated remarkable longevity for a wrestler and his retirements were always short-lived. Alongside his brother, Funk was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009; he officially retired in 2017.

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In addition to his legendary wrestling career, Funk appeared in several Hollywood films: he acted in the 1989 film Roadhouse opposite Patrick Swayze and the films Paradise Alley and Over the Top with his friend Sylvester Stallone.

After news of his death broke, many professional wrestlers expressed their condolences and remembered Funk as a major influence on the sport.

“In my entire life, I’ve never met a guy who worked harder,” Funk’s former rival Ric Flair wrote on Twitter. “Terry Funk was a great wrestler, entertainer, unbelievably fearless, and a great friend!”

“Terry Funk is gone,” wrote Mick Foley. He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends. He was the greatest wrestler I ever saw.”

“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. May God bless Terry, his friends, family and all who loved him. RIP my dear friend — it was an honor to know you.”


Rest in peace to the legendary Terry Funk — one of the all-time greats and a major influence on pro wrestling.

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