News English Jr. Heavyweight legend Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco has died

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The news came yesterday (July 31) - first from All Star Wrestling’s Facebook page, then with confirmation from his many friends, colleagues, and admirers - that British wrestling legend and cruiserweight innovator Mark ‘Rollerball’ Rocco had died at age 69.

A fourth generation wrestler, Rocco was born Mark Hussey. The Manchester native was a regular on World of Sport, and he also wrestling under a mask in Japan as Black Tiger. It was while working that gimmick for New Japan that Rocco won WWE gold, defeating Gran Hamada in a 1982 tournament final in Fukuoka to win the WWF Junior Heavyweight championship. The company commented on his death on their website.

Rocco also trained Jushin Thunder Liger and worked with him in both the United Kingdom & Japan, something which cements his influence on wrestling even among performers and fans who never saw him work before his retirement in 1991. He stayed involved, however, doing things like hosting a tournament for his old World Heavy-Middleweight title that was won by a young Daniel Bryan, and serving as a mentor during a season of TNA’s British Boot Camp reality competition won by Drake Maverick.

Cageside Seats joins with the wrestling community honoring Rocco’s life and legacy. Here’s a sampling of pros doing just that.

I’ve woken to the terrible news that my friend and colleague Mark “ Rollerball” Rocco has passed away. Mark was so ahead of his time and wether as himself or the original “Black Tiger” in @njpwglobal, he, along with Marty Jones were the...

— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
.. true originators of the fast paced, hard hitting Jr Heavyweight style we see today. In 1978 I saw a match of theirs and it took my Wrestling fandom to a different world. Becoming a friend and getting to Wrestle Mark at 18 a dream come true.....

— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
..Mark had an unbeilable work ethic in and out of the ring and my life was better for knowing him. There aren’t enough words for me to explain how much it means to me to be fortunate enough to have know him, wrestled him and explain how much he meant....

— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
... to the British and World wide wrestling scene and I just wished I could have one more of the hundreds of car rides I had with him “hold court” with his wonderful stories. My deepest condolences to all of Marks family.

— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
RIP ROLLERBALL ROCCO,what a good man,our last handshake and laugh was at Wembly,we both rocked that place many times,I always loved going out at night to find the old school fish houses after the matches with Rocco,we would laugh,drink Ichiban beer for hours me,him,and Andre HH pic.twitter.com/H0Pk8e1JEi

— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) August 1, 2020
“The definition of art has to shift whenever an innovator appears”

RIP “Rollerball” Mark Rocco pic.twitter.com/PdGYBOVmK2

— DRAKE MAVERICK (@WWEMaverick) July 31, 2020
Whether you know him as the original Black Tiger, “Rollerball” or simply by his name, Mark Rocco left an indelible imprint on our industry.

Whether it’s versus Sayama, Fujinami, Dynamite, Marty Jones- do yourself a favor & watch a match of his today. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/lt7LSqgzSn

— Chris Hero (Is Back) (@ChrisHero) July 31, 2020
Sad to hear of the passing of Mark “Rollerball” Rocco.

I’ve worn the ‘CABANARAMMA’ headband to the ring for most of my career as an homage to Rollerball, one of my all time favorites. pic.twitter.com/5BHcL4OSsA

— Colt Cabana (@ColtCabana) July 31, 2020
The Podcast I did with Rollerball Rocco back in 2013 is now up FREE at my Patreon.
Just click the link to listen.
All the back archives are there, but I'd like everyone to know who Rocco was...https://t.co/y75bKsmw1v

— Colt Cabana (@ColtCabana) August 1, 2020
Rest in peace to "Rollerball", "The Mean Machine" Mark Rocco. What an inspiration inside then ring! I still learn from him every day.

— Drew Gulak (@DrewGulak) July 31, 2020
We just lost one of our absolute best. Mark Rollerball Rocco was a true pioneer and so ahead of his time. I was so privileged to get to spend some time with him in 2012, hear his advice and amazing stories. One of the nicest men I've ever met. Truly a game changer. #ripmarkrocco pic.twitter.com/xAterCLOx4

— Nick Aldis (@RealNickAldis) July 31, 2020
Rest In Peace Rollerball Rocco. Thank you for changing the game.

— Christopher Daniels (@facdaniels) July 31, 2020
Thank you “Rollerball” Mark Rocco aka The Orginal Black Tiger for the inspiration and paving the way. #RIPMarkRocco pic.twitter.com/tKolc0Ppur

— ROCKY ROMERO (@azucarRoc) July 31, 2020
Rip #rollerballrocco . Always a huge fan. God bless

— Fandango (@WWEFandango) July 31, 2020
If there is no path go anyway and leave a trail #rollerballrocco pic.twitter.com/RlTjRDNddU

— Dave Mastiff ‘Hoss of Hosses’ (@DaveMastiff) July 31, 2020
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