Paul Orndorff, the WWE Corridor of Famer recognized to followers as Mr. Great, who fought in opposition to Hulk Hogan within the first-ever WrestleMania, died on Monday in Fayetteville, Ga. He was 71.
Mr. Orndorff’s demise was introduced by his son Travis Orndorff on Instagram. No trigger was given.
“Most of you’ll bear in mind him for his physique,” his son mentioned within the Instagram put up. “Many will bear in mind his depth. But when I may solely get you to grasp and see his coronary heart.”
Mr. Orndorff joined the World Wrestling Federation, recognized immediately as World Wrestling Leisure, in 1983, and debuted in 1984, in line with WWE.
He participated within the first WrestleMania at Madison Sq. Backyard in March 1985 in a battle with Roddy Piper in opposition to Hulk Hogan and Mr. T., in line with WWE. Mr. Hogan and Mr. T received the battle. The subsequent yr, Mr. Orndorff fought in opposition to Mr. Hogan in an occasion that drew greater than 60,000 spectators to Canadian Nationwide Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, which Mr. Hogan received by disqualification.
Mr. Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Corridor of Fame in 2005, in the identical class as Mr. Hogan.
On Monday, Mr. Hogan paid tribute to Mr. Orndorff on Twitter: “Thanks for at all times making me battle for all the pieces in our matches, heaven simply acquired much more fantastic.”
Born on Oct. 29, 1949, in Brandon, Fla., Paul Parlette Orndorff Jr. attended the College of Tampa, the place he was a operating again, and graduated in 1972, in line with the college. Mr. Orndorff was chosen by the New Orleans Saints within the twelfth spherical of the 1973 N.F.L. draft, however later started a profession in skilled wrestling.
Mr. Orndorff received his first championship, Memphis territory’s Mid-Southern Heavyweight title, in 1977, in line with the College of Tampa Corridor of Fame, which he was inducted into in 1986.
In a tweet, WWE mentioned Mr. Orndorff “introduced a swagger and elegance to the WWE Universe that turned his expertise right into a prototype for the modern-day famous person.”
Gary Cassidy, a contract author who covers skilled wrestling, mentioned in a tweet that Mr. Orndorff was “an integral a part of the strides that made it doable for Hulkamania to run wild and some of the WrestleMania matches of all time.”
He mentioned that Mr. Orndorff was “no doubt, one of many biggest wrestlers to by no means maintain a significant world championship.”
In Instagram posts earlier than Mr. Orndorff’s demise, his son alluded to issues about mind injury from wrestling.
Three days earlier than Mr. Orndorff died, his son posted an image of one in every of his father’s notebooks on Instagram with a telephone quantity.
“Should you can’t learn it, it says ‘son, I feel.’ I haven’t had that telephone quantity since 2005,” Mr. Orndorff’s son mentioned within the caption. “I hope the world will begin to take discover of the mind injury and the implications of this life-style.”
Mr. Orndorff was concerned in a number of circumstances filed by a gaggle of former wrestlers in opposition to WWE. They claimed that that they had suffered neurological injury, comparable to persistent traumatic encephalopathy, “because of bodily trauma they skilled whereas performing.”
The circumstances had been dismissed as a result of the claims had been filed after a statute of limitations expired or as a result of they had been “frivolous,” court docket paperwork present.
Full data on survivors was not instantly out there on Monday night time.