Yesterday, wrestling legend Rocky “Soul Man” Johnson died at the age of 75. This morning, Johnson’s son, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, paid tribute to his late father with a moving Instagram post.
Johnson’s post included 28 lines of prose:
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I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love. The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deeply complicated sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life’s invaluable lessons. Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side. But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back. Im in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass. Now I’ll carry your mana and work ethic with me, as it’s time to move on because I have my family to feed and work to accomplish. Finally, I want you to rest your trailblazing soul, Soulman. Pain free, regret free, satisfied and at ease. You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high. #ripsoulman #rockyjohnson 🐐
Rocky Johnson (his name taken by his son for his famous moniker) wrestled professionally for almost three decades, including a stint in the WWE where he became one of the first black tag-team champions. A video of the tag team fight featured in Johnson’s Instagram post. Rocky Johnson retired in 1991, before introducing his son to league officials. (Dwayne began wrestling as “Rocky Maivia” in 1996 after playing professional football.) In 2008, The Rock inaugurated Rocky into the WWE Hall of Fame.
In his post, Johnson said that he would forever carry his father’s “mana.” In Polynesian culture and theology, a person’s mana is a soul-like force or power distinct from the physical world (linguists find cognates to mean “thunder” or “wind.”)
While Johnson said he was in pain, he also said that “it’s just pain and it’ll pass.” It’s the love and mana that is forever.
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