WWE issued the following statement after news of Harley Race passing away today.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race passed away today at age 76 due to complications from lung cancer.
Harley Race captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship seven times, which stood as a record until Ric Flair broke it in 1991.
To this day, only a handful of Superstars can claim to have won more World Heavyweight Championships than Race.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Race was the National Wrestling Alliance’s most dominant champion, winning the sport’s oldest World Heavyweight Championship from the likes of Dory Funk Jr., Giant Baba, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes and Flair.
The tough-as-nails Race was so universally respected that WWE, despite having seceded from the NWA and having its own World Heavyweight Champion, chose to recognize Race’s title status as well. As a result, Race was the first NWA Champion to engage in title unification matchups against WWE Champions like “Superstar” Billy Graham and Bob Backlund.
In what seemed unthinkable at the time, Race, one of the NWA’s most influential figures of all time, joined WWE in 1986 during the company’s national expansion. After winning the King of the Ring tournament, Race was the first to don regal robes and a crown.
“King” Harley Race was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and was introduced to a new generation of fans. Race battled all of WWE’s top heroes and pinned Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania III in front of a record-setting attendance of 93,000 fans.
WWE extends its condolences to Race’s family, friends and fans.
Wrestling industry reacts to the passing on Thursday
Here are some tweets from those in the wrestling industry reacting to Harley Race’s passing.
Today the world lost one of the toughest men ever to walk God's green earth.
RIP Harley Race!
8X NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion.
The entire sport of professional wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Harley. pic.twitter.com/rEiHknbYn1
— NWA (@nwa) August 1, 2019
The wrestling world has lost another legend and I have lost a dear friend and mentor. RIP Harley Race. You are loved and will be very much missed. https://t.co/KDJzcQY2sI
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) August 1, 2019
— Dustin Rhodes (@dustinrhodes) August 1, 2019
RIP HARLEY,love you my brother HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) August 1, 2019
We lost a true ledend today; one of the toughest men and one of the greatest champions our sport has ever known. I loved working with him, I loved talking with him. I was proud to be his friend. pic.twitter.com/1W103AZt67
— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) August 1, 2019
AEW is saddened to learn that Pro Wrestling Hall of Famer Harley Race has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/Ik29DwZIQ4
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) August 1, 2019
IMPACT Wrestling is saddened to hear of the passing of Harley Race. We send our deepest condolences to his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/OZp5KPh48F
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 1, 2019