WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.
“WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Gene Okerlund, the most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, has passed away at age 76.”
Regarding the death of Mean Gene Okerlund, his son told The Associated Press that his father died early Wednesday morning at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida. StarTribune.com reports that Gene passed away in the hospital emergency room around 5:30am
Gene’s wife, Jeanne, was by his side when he passed away. Okerlund’s son noted that his father had undergone three kidney transplants and fell ill a few weeks ago. “Things just kind of went from bad to worse.” and that Okerlund was dealing with “a lot of different issues.” The site noted that his death was from natural causes.
In his early days, “Mean Gene”, as he was named by fellow Minnesotan, Jesse “The Body” Ventura first came to prominence by interviewing the greatest stars of the AWA, including Ventura, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Hulk Hogan. In 1984, Okerlund made the move to WWE where he became a staple on national cable television by continuing to interview the biggest names in sports-entertainment like Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and many more.
Hulk Hogan also commented … saying, “Mean Gene I love you my brother.”
Mean Gene I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 2, 2019
Unclear how he died, but Okerlund had health problems dating back years. He had 2 kidney transplants — the first one in 1995 and the second in 2004.
Okerlund started as a radio DJ back in Nebraska before taking a job with the American Wrestling Association in 1970.
He moved to WWF in the early ’80s and WRESTLED — famously pinning Mr. Fuji in a tag team match with Hulk Hogan in 1984.
Okerlund was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006 by Hulk Hogan.
? Rest easy #MeanGene your Legacy shall live in forever ?
— Mickie James~Aldis (@MickieJames) January 2, 2019
Rest in Power #MeanGene. Thank you for shaping my childhood. “Put that cigarette out” ??
— Mike Kanellis (@RealMikeBennett) January 2, 2019