Terry Funk, one of the most well-rounded and influential performers in the history of professional wrestling, died Wednesday at the age of 79, WWE confirmed.
Funk was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009 and the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame two years ago. He won the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) heavyweight championship in 1975 and the Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) title in 1993 and again in 1997.
He wrestled for 52 years with his final match coming in 2017.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Terry Funk has passed away at the age of 79.— WWE (@WWE) August 23, 2023
WWE extends its condolences to Funk's family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/1elQq5ZkDn
His body of work was more than the sum of its parts. Funk touched several different generations of wrestling and stood out in them all.
"In my entire life, I've never met a guy who worked harder," Ric Flair, his storyline rival from the late 1980s, posted to social media. "Terry Funk was a great wrestler, entertainer, unbelievably fearless, and a great friend!"
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Funk was known as one of the top stars of the territory era, headlining big matches in places like Florida and Memphis, Tennessee, against luminaries like Dusty Rhodes and Jerry Lawler.
In Japan, Funk rose to fame as part of a heel tag team with his brother Dory Jr. Later in the 1980s, he had WWF championship matches with Hulk Hogan and tore down the house in WCW against Flair.
Fans who watched wrestling in the 1990s knew Funk from the outlaw ECW promotion, where he tangled with the likes of Cactus Jack (Mick Foley), Raven, The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. Funk lost the ECW title in a barbed-wire match against daredevil Sabu.
He then went onto the WWF as Chainsaw Charlie for a run with the tag team titles with Foley during WWF's "Attitude Era."
Funk, who was born in Indiana but wrestled out of Amarillo, Texas, was in his 50s by that time and still putting on memorable performances.
There wasn't anything Funk couldn't do in wrestling. He excelled as a good guy (babyface) and bad guy (heel). He had legendary interviews on the microphone and dramatic matches in the ring, spanning four generations.
Funk could tell a story magnificently in both ways. Funk could wrestle a technical style or a brawling style, excel in a top tag team or bleed with the best of them in a violent hard-core match. And fans from different generations knew him for different things.
Funk also had roles in several movies, including the 1980s cult classic "Road House," as well as Sylvester Stallone projects "Paradise Alley" and "Over the Top," the former where he was also the stunt coordinator.
"He was my mentor, my idol, one of the closest friends," Foley wrote on X. "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."