The world of professional wrestling is grappling with the death of one of its most beloved figures.
Announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund died Wednesday at the age of 76, according to an announcement by World Wrestling Entertainment, which employed him on and off since 1984. No cause of death was announced.
Okerlund began his career in 1970 working for the American Wrestling Association before joining WWE, according to For The Win.
Okerlund sang the National Anthem before the first WrestleMania event in 1985, and even dropped a version of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” for WWE’s “The Wrestling Album,” released that year.
Okerlund was given the nickname “Mean” Gene by Jesse “The Body” Ventura, who later became Minnesota governor, though he was reportedly one of the friendliest people in pro wrestling, according to Fox News.
News of Okerlund’s death inspired many Twitter tributes from his colleagues.
Mean Gene I love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) January 2, 2019
Just heard Mean Gene Okerlund has passed away. As an interviewer, pitch man, announcer, or host, he was untouchable. Simply the best. Total professional with quick wit, sarcasm, humor, and that golden voice. Condolences to his friends and family.
— Steve Austin (@steveaustinBSR) January 2, 2019
So sad to hear of the passing of “Mean” Gene Okerlund. I had the pleasure of working many conventions with him…..What an absolute sweetheart of a man and a true legend in this business ? #RIPMeanGene
— Lauren/Angelina Love (@ActualALove) January 2, 2019
Of the very few regrets I harbor in my career, one was never getting to scream "Mean Gene" when answering the queries of a man who presence was larger than life and ingrained in the better memories of my childhood. RIP Mean Gene. My condolences to the Okerlund family.
— Samoa Joe (@SamoaJoe) January 2, 2019
Gene Okerlund's warm and comforting presence left an indelible mark on me as a child watching WWF on Saturday mornings. He had superb timing, made wrestling classy and fun. He elevated the product – be it the WWF, WCW, AWA bringing a sense of dignity and quality to wrestling.
— Court Bauer (@courtbauer) January 2, 2019
A voice and sound track to an entire era of our industry. He was the star of some of @WWE’s most memorable segments. “Mean Gene” was beloved by all who got to work with him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. https://t.co/9ddj6372eE
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 2, 2019
This one stings. RIP “Mean” Gene Okerlund. As a young fan, he was the only backstage interviewer that mattered. He is the man with the golden voice who is SO synonymous with the culture of pro wrestling. I’m fortunate to have met and shared a beverage with him. Godspeed sir ?
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) January 2, 2019
So sad to hear of the passing of one of the greatest voices in wrestling. Mean Gene you will be missed and we will continue to love you. What a true class act. I am very fortunate to work with you.
— Charles Robinson (@WWERobinson) January 2, 2019
Another great man has passed away! Rest peacefully Mean Gene until we meet in heaven! God Bless