wrestling / News

UPDATED: Wrestling Legend and Hall of Famer Harley Race Passes Away, WWE Issues Statement

August 1, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Harley Race, WWE

UPDATED: WWE has also issued a statement on Harley Race’s passing, which you can read below. The statement confirmed Harley Race passed away due to complications from lung cancer.

WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race passes away

WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race passed away today at age 76 due to complications from lung cancer.

Harley Race captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship seven times, which stood as a record until Ric Flair broke it in 1991.

To this day, only a handful of Superstars can claim to have won more World Heavyweight Championships than Race.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Race was the National Wrestling Alliance’s most dominant champion, winning the sport’s oldest World Heavyweight Championship from the likes of Dory Funk Jr., Giant Baba, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes and Flair.

The tough-as-nails Race was so universally respected that WWE, despite having seceded from the NWA and having its own World Heavyweight Champion, chose to recognize Race’s title status as well. As a result, Race was the first NWA Champion to engage in title unification matchups against WWE Champions like “Superstar” Billy Graham and Bob Backlund.

In what seemed unthinkable at the time, Race, one of the NWA’s most influential figures of all time, joined WWE in 1986 during the company’s national expansion. After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Race was the first to don regal robes and a crown. “King” Harley Race was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and was introduced to a new generation of fans. Race battled all of WWE’s top heroes and pinned Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania III in front of a record-setting attendance of 93,000 fans.

WWE extends its condolences to Race’s family, friends and fans.

ORIGINAL: Pro wrestling legend and WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race has has left us. His official Twitter account confirmed the news earlier today and issued the following statement:

Today at 12:50, we lost the man that fought up until the very last of his existence. More information will be released soon, but just know that he loved pro-wrestling and the fans that loved him.

Harley Race, we love you

All Elite Wrestling and Dustin Rhodes issued statements on his passing via Twitter, which you can also see below. Race had previously been diagnosed and undergoing treatment for lung cancer. He was also reportedly hospitalized last month due to health concerns.

AEW wrote on Race, “AEW is saddened to learn that Pro Wrestling Hall of Famer Harley Race has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans at this difficult time.”

Also, Dustin Rhodes stated, “RIP to one of the greatest performers there ever was. He was a friend. You will be missed #HarleyRace #RIP” You can see those tweets below.

Race had an illustrious career spanning decades, wrestling all over the world. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on eight occasions. In 1986, he won WWF’s (now WWE) King of the Ring tournament, earning him the nickname “King” Harley Race. In the early 1990s after retiring from in-ring competition, he would go on to become a manager for WCW World champions such as Lex Luger and Big Van Vader.

On behalf of 411, we offer our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Harley Race. Rest in peace to one of the greatest wrestlers and wrestling legends of all time.