/Gene Okerlund, Serious Voice of Pro Wrestling, Is Dead at 76

Gene Okerlund, Serious Voice of Pro Wrestling, Is Dead at 76

Gene Okerlund, who as a ringside interviewer and commentator served for many years as a straight man to the outsize personalities who suffuse the world of skilled wrestling, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Sarasota, Fla. He was 76.

His son Todd stated he died a few month after a fall.

Mr. Okerlund, who was nicknamed Mean Gene by the wrestler (and future governor of Minnesota) Jesse Ventura, was a mild-mannered determine, particularly by pro-wrestling requirements. He usually appeared on the air in elegant apparel to conduct interviews with intensely muscled, scantily clad wrestlers like Macho Man Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan. Mr. Hogan helped popularize Mr. Okerlund’s nickname by repeating it at the start of many interviews.

But Mr. Gagne persevered, and Mr. Okerlund worked in professional wrestling from then on. He joined the World Wrestling Federation, now the WWE, in the 1980s, when the promoter Vince McMahon made it a national organization.

Mr. Okerlund hosted shows like “Tuesday Night Titans,” “WWF All American Wrestling” and “WWF Prime Time Wrestling,” and appeared briefly in a tag-team match with Mr. Hogan against Mr. Fuji and George (the Animal) Steele in 1984.

He was also a singer. He sang “Tutti Frutti” on “The Wrestling Album” (1985), which mostly featured songs performed by wrestlers, and in 1985 sang the national anthem at the first WrestleMania, one of wrestling’s biggest televised events.

He lived in Osprey, Fla., with his wife, Jeanne. In addition to her and his son, he is survived by another son, Tor, and three grandchildren.

Mr. Okerlund told The Sun-Sentinel that he thought interviews were a crucial way for wrestlers to engage their audience and heighten drama.

“You have to be able to do things in the ring,” he said, but interviews “are a wrestler’s bread and butter.”

Source link Nytimes.com

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