Professional wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes passes away at the age of 69
(WFLA.COM) TAMPA, Fla. – Friends of wrestler Dusty Rhodes stopped to remember the Hall of Fame wrestler Thursday. Rhodes, whose real name was Virgil Runnels, passed away at age 69.
“I saw Dusty in the last maybe couple years start to decline a little bit,” friend and retired wrestler Steve Keirn said.
“I saw a difference in him. He lost quite a bit of weight and it wasn’t his normal character size. Then I saw him aging in his face more than normal,” remembered Keirn, who spoke with Runnels just last week.
“He just called and asked me how I was doing. I sent him a picture of him and I when we were really young, and he goes, ‘Those were the days, baby. Those were the days,’” Keirn added.
Hundreds of fans and wrestlers gathered Thursday night at Tampa’s Jewish Community Campus for a Championship Wrestling fundraiser.
“He was quite a character, and you know I really loved to wrestle Dusty and I love so much getting in the ring with him,” wrestler Terry Funk said.
“They say that fame is fleeting but in the case of Dusty Rhodes, he’s always going to mean something in Florida,” wrestler Lanny Poffo said.
Fans also remembered Runnels. “He was basically the godfather of Florida wrestling,” Robert Bonachea said.
“He was a great wrestler, a great human being. We wish the best for him and his family,” fan Usman Butt said.