Pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes dies at age 69 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes dies at age 69

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Virgil Runnels, better known as professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes, died Thursday at the age of 69.

WWE reported his death via Twitter. Nicknamed "The American Dream," Rhodes was a three-time NWA champion, WWE Hall of Famer and spent many years as a trainer and "booker," or writer, for various organizations.

Rhodes spent most of his time wrestling on the east coast, but he did make his way to Memphis to enter the ring with Jerry "The King" Lawler.

Lawler and Rhodes were longtime friends.

"The persona that was Dusty, the American Dream, that character that he was on television was one of a kind. He was just so special," Lawler said. "He was one of kind, but if you are friends with Dusty, it's hard to describe how fun loving and how much joy the guy would bring to other people and how much fun it was just to be around him.

Lawler said he saw Rhodes just weeks before learning of his death. He said Rhodes had his same jovial personality, but he could tell he had lost a lot of weight and looked frail.

WWE has not commented on Rhodes' cause of death.

"It's sad anytime someone passes away who you worked with over the years," Lawler said. "I had a lot of big matches with Dusty. It's always sad when someone passes, but especially when it's someone you've worked closely with."

Billed as the son of a plumber and a common man, Dusty Rhodes was the working-class hero who fought many classic in-ring battles with Rick Flair and his group, the Four Horsemen. He performed through the 1970s and '80s in multiple territories throughout the country.

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