Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Digest: Wrestling Great, Missouri Native Harley Race Dies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Digest: Wrestling Great, Missouri Native Harley Race Dies

Article excerpt

Wrestling great, Missouri native Race dies

Harley Race, the longtime wrestler and promoter best known for playing the arrogant "King of the Ring," wearing a regal crown and purple cape and insisting that opponents kneel and bow before him, died Aug. 1 in St. Charles. He was 76.

The cause was complications from lung cancer, the WWE said in a statement.

Calling himself "the greatest wrestler on God's green earth," the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Race was a ring stalwart who wrestled at The Chase in St. Louis.

He was a frequent champion for decades until a 1995 car crash ended his career. He was sometimes overshadowed by bigger names and more charismatic personalities with bulkier muscles, but his experience and toughness brought him respect among colleagues.

Leon "Big Van Vader" White, who was Race's tag-team partner for a time, told YouTube wrestling channel the Hannibal TV in 2017 that Race mastered "the ability to tell a story with your body physically."

A ring veteran who wrestled under nicknames such as "Handsome" Harley Race and "Mad Dog," Race joined what then was the World Wrestling Federation in 1986 as the company was soaring in popularity. He was in his mid-40s at the time, and he needed a new gimmick.

He was one of six wrestlers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of four different companies, including the WWE in 2004, the National Wrestling Alliance, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

The son of sharecroppers, Harley Leland Race was born in Maryville, Mo., on April 11, 1943, and grew up in nearby Quitman.

After retiring from the ring, Race started the Troy, Mo.-based World League Wrestling in 1999 and opened a facility to train young wrestlers. (The Washington Post, Staff reports)

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