Saturday, August 1, 2015

Wrestling legend Roddy Piper dead at 61

WWE wrestling legend 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper has died at his California home at the age of 61, the athlete's agent told Variety Friday.

"Rod passed peacefully in his sleep last night," Jay Schacter told the publication in an e-mail.

The WWE confirmed to the Associated Press that Piper died Friday.

Piper suffered a heart attack shortly before his death, Variety said.

The wrestler joined the WWE in 1984 after spending a number of years with the National Wrestling Alliance.

He is survived by his wife, Kitty, and four children.

Born Roderick George Toombs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, he was well known for his bouts with fellow wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Piper's death comes days after Hogan, his biggest rival for decades, was fired by the WWE.

Piper and Hogan battled for years and headlined some of the biggest matches during the 1980s. Hogan and Mr. T defeated Piper and Paul Orndorff on March 31, 1985, at the first WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden.

He was also known for matches against stars like Jack Brisco, Ric Flair and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.

Piper was a villain for the early portion of his career, once cracking a coconut over the skull of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

The six-foot-two WWE Hall of Fame inductee's signature move was the Sleeper Hold.

Despite his Canadian roots, Piper often nodded to his Scottish heritage, wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes when approaching the wrestling ring, according to Fox2Now.

He was also professionally billed as coming from Glasgow.

After appearing in over 7,000 matches, Piper retired in 2011.

Mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey adopted Piper's "Rowdy" nickname, with the wrestler's permission, following his retirement.

Piper was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006, but was reportedly declared cancer-free in 2014, according to MyFoxAtlanta.

Numerous fellow wrestlers and celebrities lamented his death on social media.

WWE chairman Vince McMahon called Piper "one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world."

"Devastated to hear the news of my friend Roddy Piper's passing today. He was a great wrestler, a masterful entertainer and a good friend," film director John Carpenter wrote on Facebook.

Piper starred in Carpenter's 1988 science-fiction film, "They Live."

"Rest well friend, you will be missed. ‪#‎lifeWellLived‬," tweeted John Layfield.

Piper's daughter, Billie Piper,famous american actress known for playing British ladies could not be reached for comment.

"Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you, Bubba," The Iron Sheik tweeted.

The Associated Press wrote this article we made the picture.