Former NWA Heavyweight Champion, Harley Race dies age 76

In a tweet sent out by Race’s Twitter account, former eight-time National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Champion, Harley Race has passed away. Born Harley Leland Race, his legendary career was spent in promotions such as the American Wrestling Association, World Wrestling Federation and the National Wrestling Alliance. Race is only one of a half a dozen men to be inducted into multiple Hall of Fames including the NWA, Professional Wrestling, and WWE among them.

His toughness is only measured by his commitment to the sport he loved. After he overcame polio as a child, Race began to show a fondness for professional wrestling and was trained by Stanislaus and Wladek Zbyszko. Race has seen his share of tragedy throughout his life including the loss of his first wife Vivian after one short month after their wedding. With age came several operations to restore alignments to Race’s neck, hip, knees, and back. Despite these health issues, Race continued to be a beacon of hope and inspiration. This past May it was announced that Race had been diagnosed with lung cancer albeit not terminal.

He will long be remembered for his matches against the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk Jr, and the Nature Boy Ric Flair. Each one of those matches was critically acclaimed with his 1973 match against Funk Jr being heralded as a match of the year, his 1979 match against Dusty Rhodes being voted as a match of the year and his match against Ric Flair in 1983 as a match of the year. In an in-ring career that spanned over thirty years, Race’s contributions to wrestling were not limited to in-ring competition but other areas as well. He operated a wrestling school and was an active part of promoting various events as well.

When the NWA was purchased and became WCW, Race took on the role of manager for the likes of Sid Vicious and Vader.

Race is survived by three children and five grandchildren.