Nick Bockwinkel, Wrestling legend, died Saturday night due to health reasons. Bockwinkel, who played football for the University of Oklahoma before a knee injury ended his collegiate career, was a four-time American Wrestling Association heavyweight champ, according to New York Daily News.
The Cauliflower Alley Club announced the news on Sunday, revealing that Bockwinkel, 80, had passed away on Saturday night due to health reasons. The cause of Nick’s death was not disclosed.
“It is with a heavy heart the Cauliflower Alley Club announces that The Greatest AWA World Champion of all time and former CAC President and WWE Hall Of Famer, Nicholas ‘Nick’ Bockwinkel passed away Saturday night at approx. 8:40 pm due to health issues. We will have more on this later Sunday afternoon. The Cauliflower Alley Club, it’s members, and all of Nicks fans & friends send their condolences to Darlene & the Bockwinkel family at this time. The Bockwinkel family ask for everyone to respect their privacy at this time.”
Nick Bockwinkel married second wife Darlene in the early 1970s. He has two daughters from his first marriage.
The WWE.com were then soon to release their own statement on the legendary wrestler’s passing.
“WWE is saddened to learn that Nick Bockwinkel, a WWE Hall of Famer and former four time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, has passed away at age 80.”
Bockwinkel began his career in the 1950’s, paving the way for pro-wrestlers today with his excellent grappling skills, and charismatic ring interviews. Nick was also managed by legendary WWE star Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
At the age of 16, Nick Bockwinkel had his debut match against Thesz. Bockwinkel won his first major singles title in 1963, defeating Tony Borne for the NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship. He also held several singles and tag team titles in Hawaii and California
Current wrestler Paul (Triple H) Leveque paid his respects on Twitter.
— Triple H (@TripleH) November 15, 2021
Nick was one of the driving forces of the AWA in the 1970s and ’80s as top champion and all-time great heel. In 1970, Bockwinkel joined the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he formed a team with wrestler Ray Stevens and manager Bobby Heenan.
The team won the AWA World Tag Team Championship three times, the first in 1972. They defended the belts against such opponents as The Crusher, Dick the Bruiser, Billy Robinson, and Verne Gagne.
They eventually broke up the team after Stevens attacked Heenan when the latter praised himself and failed to comment on Stevens during an interview. Bockwinkel also teamed with Pat Patterson on occasion.
Heenan inducted the legendary wrestler into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2007 and he was widely regarded as one of the greatest technical wrestlers of his generation, if not of all time. In 2009, the former wrestler underwent triple bypass heart surgery.
Nick Bockwinkel was dubbed the “Smartest Wrestler Alive.” He notoriously beat fellow WWE Hall of Famer and AWA legend Verne Gagne to win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship. This was an incredibly upset. Verne had held the title for seven years before he was beat.