Professional wrestling has lost a true legend as Terry Funk, a renowned figure in the industry, has passed away at the age of 79.
The news was acknowledged by wrestling icons Ric Flair and Mick Foley on Wednesday afternoon, with WWE confirming the news shortly thereafter. Terry Funk had an extraordinary in-ring career that spanned an impressive six decades. He left his mark on almost every major U.S. wrestling promotion, securing numerous championships and gaining widespread recognition throughout the wrestling world.
In My Entire Life, I’ve Never Met A Guy Who Worked Harder. Terry Funk Was A Great Wrestler, Entertainer, Unbelievably Fearless, And A Great Friend! Rest In Peace My Friend Terry Funk Knowing That No One Will Ever Replace You In The World Of Professional Wrestling! 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/EYMAKOzxnx
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) August 23, 2023
Terry Funk is gone. I just talked to Terry’s daughter, Brandee, who gave me the awful news. 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… pic.twitter.com/WwdFLwXqZ0
— Mick Foley (@foleyispod) August 23, 2023
Early in his career, Terry Funk partnered with his brother, Dory Funk Jr., in their father’s Western States Sports promotion based in Amarillo, Texas, during the 1960s. The duo made a name for themselves as a tag team. However, it was as a singles competitor that Terry Funk achieved one of the most significant moments in his career. In 1975, he clinched the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a memorable match against Jack Brisco. Holding onto this prestigious title for over a year, Funk’s victory was a monumental achievement. Notably, this victory, combined with Dory Jr.’s own title reign, earned them the distinction of being the only pair of brothers to both hold this esteemed championship title.
Known for his brawling style, Terry Funk’s impact extended beyond the U.S., gaining fame in All Japan Pro Wrestling as well. Later on, he played a pioneering role in shaping the “hardcore” wrestling style, particularly during his memorable feud with Ric Flair in World Championship Wrestling. This period also saw him participate in the International Wrestling Association of Japan’s “King of the Death Match Tournament” and eventually becoming a part of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Throughout his career, Terry Funk had several stints with WWE. His most memorable phase was during the renowned “Attitude Era” of the late 1990s. He initially performed under the name “Chainsaw Charlie” before reverting to his real name. During this time, he both teamed up and feuded with Mick Foley, who was known as Cactus Jack and was instrumental in popularizing hardcore wrestling during the 1990s. In fact, Funk and Foley even faced off in the finals of the aforementioned “King of the Death Match Tournament” in 1995.
Terry Funk’s legacy persisted until 2017, marked by his appearances in ECW, WCW, TNA, WWE, All Japan, and various other independent promotions. His contributions were celebrated with an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009, alongside his brother Dory. He also holds a place in the NWA, International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, among other esteemed institutions. In 2005, he received the Iron Mike Mazurki Award from the prestigious Cauliflower Alley Club.
Outside of professional wrestling, Terry Funk left his mark on the entertainment world. He appeared in several movies and TV shows, including “Over the Top,” “Road House,” and took on stunt work in films such as “Rambo III” and “Rocky V.”
Terry Funk’s health struggles became known in 2021 when fellow wrestling legend Don Muraco revealed that Funk was battling dementia and had been residing in an assisted living facility. His official Twitter account later confirmed that he was grappling with multiple health challenges.
The news of Terry Funk’s passing has stirred a wave of heartfelt emotions throughout the wrestling community and beyond. His legacy as a true wrestling icon will undoubtedly endure for generations to come.
One of the best to tie them out. And also one of the most underrated.
RIP Terry Funk pic.twitter.com/YROrCl2Eyo
— Matthew Rehwoldt (@DramaKingMatt) August 23, 2023
I’m very sad to hear of the passing of a true legend & a great person, Terry Funk. Several of us had the honor & pleasure of being at his Double Cross Ranch many years ago after a show in Amarillo, I’ll never forget that!! Words can’t explain how Terry was just GREAT on so many… pic.twitter.com/ftA7jUtAqt
— taz (@OfficialTAZ) August 23, 2023