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Harley Race dies at age 76

Known as The Greatest Wrestler on God’s Green Earth, WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race is reportedly dead at age 76. Diagnosed with lung cancer earlier in the year, Race was reportedly hospitalized two weeks ago.

Going by the nickname The King or Handsome, Harley Race was born on April 11, 1943 in the small town of Quitman, Missouri. Race began his pro wrestling career in 1960 as a driver and handyman for a local Midwest promotion.

Race made a name for himself, formed a tag team with the late Larry Hennig, and had a spectacular run for Minnesota’s AWA promotion. At age 27, Race would become an integral part of the National Wrestling Alliance’s success throughout the 1970s.

In 1980 and 81, Race was named the Wrestler of the Year by Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The Newsletter also awarded Race’s bout versus Ric Flair at Starrcade 1983 with Match of the Year honors.

A eight-time NWA World Champion, Race would also go on to become the first NWA United States Heavyweight Champion; a lineage still linked to WWE’s modern US title belt.

Joining WWF in 1986, Race would win the second ever King of the Ring tournament that same year. At WrestleMania III, Race defeated the Junkyard Dog.

After signing with WCW in 1990, Race competed in his final match of his in-ring career in 1993.

Race was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004, and is also a member of the NWA Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, as well as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

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