Professional wrestling interviewer ‘Imply Gene’ Okerlund dies

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WJ Wire

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Eugene “Imply Gene” Okerlund, whose deadpan interviews of professional wrestling superstars like “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Final Warrior and Hulk Hogan made him a ringside fixture in his personal proper, has died. He was 76.

World Wrestling Leisure introduced Okerlund’s loss of life on its web site Wednesday. Okerlund’s son, Tor Okerlund, instructed The Related Press that his father died early Wednesday at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, close to his residence in Osprey, Florida, together with his spouse, Jeanne, by his aspect.

Tor Okerlund stated his father, who had acquired three kidney transplants, fell a number of weeks in the past “and it simply type of went from unhealthy to worse.”

Okerlund began as an interviewer within the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Affiliation. He moved to WWE in 1984 and hosted a number of exhibits, together with “All-American Wrestling,” ”Tuesday Night time Titans” and “Prime Time Wrestling.” Apart from being WWE’s lead locker room interviewer, he additionally offered ringside commentary.

Former wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who wrestled as “The Physique,” dubbed Okerlund “Imply Gene.”

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Ventura instructed the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Wednesday that in an interview he “laughingly known as him ‘the Imply Gene Sizzling Air Machine,’ and the ‘Imply Gene’ caught.”

Ventura known as Okerlund “one of the best at what he did, one of the best straight man interviewer in wrestling historical past.”

A local of Sisseton, South Dakota, Okerlund was identified for his natty apparel and mustache. He was inducted into the WWE Corridor of Fame in 2006.

Okerlund additionally may sing and carried out the nationwide anthem on the first WrestleMania in 1985. He sang “Tutti Frutti” later that 12 months on the WWE’s “The Wrestling Album.”

“He actually was the last word, the consummate entertainer,” his son stated.

In a 2015 interview with the Star Tribune, Okerlund credited the late professional wrestling pioneer Verne Gagne for his begin.

Okerlund labored in gross sales on the tv station the place Gagne’s AWA was primarily based and had expertise in radio. Gagne approached Okerlund within the hallway when the common interviewer couldn’t make a taping within the early 1970s, Okerlund recalled.

“I stated, ‘Verne, I do know zero about wrestling.’ He stated, ‘Do you will have a swimsuit and tie? That’s all you want.’ There have been a couple of bucks concerned, so I dived in,” Okerlund stated.

Funeral preparations are pending.

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Extra AP sports activities: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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