Harley Race, legendary Missouri-born professional wrestler, dead

News

Harley Race (Source: World League Wrestling, Facebook)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

TROY, Mo. – Harley Race, the tough-talking, Missouri-born professional wrestler who rose to national prominence over three-plus decades, has passed away. He was 76.  His official Twitter account says, “Today at 12:50, we lost the man that fought up until the very last of his existence. More information will be released soon, but just know that he loved pro-wrestling and the fans that loved him. Harley Race, we love you.”

Race was born to sharecropper parents in the small town of Quitman in northwest Missouri in April 1943. As a pro wrestler, he’d be billed from Kansas City.

He began training as a teenager and started his career in the early 1960s and married his sweetheart Vivian Jones at age 18. Unfortunately, they were involved in a severe car accident one month after the wedding. Jones, who was pregnant at the time, died the crash. Race nearly had his leg amputated as a result and was told he’d likely never walk again.

After several months of physical therapy and recovery, Race returned to ring, traveling across the country and honing his craft wrestling for the famed Funk family in Texas and Verne Gagne’s AWA promotion. He’d achieve his greatest popularity competing in the National Wrestling Alliance, feuding with fellow wrestling luminaries like the Funk brothers (Terry and Dory Jr.), Dusty Rhodes, and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

Race won his first NWA World Title in May 1973 in Kansas City, Kansas. Race main-evented the inaugural Starrcade event in November 1983, losing the title to Flair in a steel cage match.

Race worked for WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation) in the mid-to-late 1980s.

He suffered a shoulder injury during a match in December 1990 that led to him leaving the ring as an active competitor. He transitioned to the role of manager and had success.

In January 1995, Race was involved in a car accident that kept him away from wrestling for years.

With his in-ring career finished, Race founded World League Wrestling in 1999 near his home in Eldon. The promotion also served as a training school for would-be professional wrestlers and other independent performers from across the region. At present, WLW runs shows in Troy, Missouri.

Race was hospitalized in May 2017 after breaking both legs following a fall at his home.

Post-career, Race was inducted into several halls of fame for his achievements: the WCW Hall of Fame (1994), the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (1996), the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (2004 as a singles wrestler and 2017 as a tag team with Larry Hennig), the WWE Hall of Fame (2004), the NWA Hall of Fame (2005), the St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame (2007), and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (2013).

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News