Terry Funk died today. Mr. Funk was 79 years old.
Terry and his older brother, Dory Jr., were the sons of Dorothy and Dory Funk. Their father, Dory Funk Sr. was a high school state and college champion amateur wrestler. After a stint in the Navy, Dory Sr. became a professional wrestler and later a wrestling promoter. So both Funk boys grew up in a professional wrestling family and both would become professional wrestlers.
Terry Funk began his professional wrestling career in 1965, competing in his father’s Western States Sports Promotion. His older brother, Dory was already an established wrestler. They made a formidable team. Terry would go on to wrestle and win championships for all the major promoters as well as on the independent circuit. Later in his career when many wrestlers contemplate retirement, Terry Funk excelled as a hardcore champion, participating in extremely violent matches.
Terry Funk won multiple championships in promotions across the country. Mr. Funk is in the following Professional Wrestling Halls of Fame:
- Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame (1995)
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (2004)
- Hardcore Hall of Fame (2005)
- NWA Hall of Fame (2009)
- WWE Hall of Fame (2009)
- St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame (2010)
- George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (2010)
- International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (2021)
Terry Funk also branched out into acting. His first role was a major one in Sylvester Stallone’s Paradise Alley. Mr. Funk would go on to act in television and feature films.
Some of Terry Funk’s television appearances include: Wildside (6 episodes); Timestalkers, Swamp Thing; Quantum Leap; Tequila and Bonetti (11 episodes); The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and Thunder in Paradise.
Some of Terry Funk’s feature film appearances include: Paradise Alley; Over the Top; Road House; Rambo III (stunts) and Rocky V (stunts).
I was familiar with Terry Funk’s wrestling as a kid growing up in Indiana. Then when we moved to Florida, Terry Funk was a popular bad guy for years. My favorite Terry Funk role, by far, is when he played Frankie the Thumper in Paradise Alley. Mr. Funk and Sylvester Stallone got along well as evidenced by Terry Funk’s appearances in Over the Top, stunt work for Rambo III and Rocky V.
The fact that Terry Funk was able to wrestle for decades is evidence that he was a legitimate tough guy. It’s impressive that everywhere Mr. Funk wrestled, he excelled. Look at the number of Wrestling Hall of Fames feature him. He was one of a kind.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Terry Funk’s family, friends and fans.