In a new interview, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson spoke with Oprah Winfrey about the recent passing of his father, Rocky Johnson. The Great One appeared on Winfrey's 2020 Vision Tour in Atlanta where he revealed that he and his dad had a challenging and complicated relationship. He also expresses the joy he felt at the funeral because he saw how great his father was to so many different people.
It's been challenging. My father passed away on January 15, and we just buried him. We all go through this - our own process of grieving and regret, and all these emotions that we go through. Again, it's the cycle of life. It's beautiful, it's painful, it's amazing, it's incredible, it's all of these things. I will tell you this - in this process I had a complicated relationship with my dad. There was a foundation of tough love with my father. He wasn't a big 'I love you' guy. As complicated as it was, what gave me great satisfaction at the funeral, was to see that he was a great friend to so many guys. A challenged father, but a great friend to so many people.
Rocky later discusses his father's legacy in the pro-wrestling business, and how he was a trailblazer at a time when there were still severe racial tensions in the industry.
I think he was proud of me when I became successful in an industry that he gave his life to. For those who don't know, my father was a professional wrestler and my grandfather was a professional wrestler, too. My dad Rocky Johnson, was a black man coming up in the '60s and '70s in professional wrestling, which all the companies that he wrestled at were in the south. He was a trailblazer in many ways, because of what he could do as a black man who wrestled. We lived here in Atlanta when I was a kid. What he was able to do was go to these small towns, where it was an all-white business and an all-white audience, and in that time in the late '60s / early '70s there was that racial divide. But he was able to change the audiences behavior. So with an all-white audience, who would never cheer for a black man, cheered for him in these arenas. It wasn't like he was wrestling other black men, he was wrestling against other white wrestlers. So, in a trailblazing sense, he did a lot of things that had never been done, but he also changed the audiences behavior, which is so hard to do.
Finally...Rocky admits that he feels like he has a new relationship with his father now that he's gone, referring to it as a clean slate.
I feel like the day he died, that night when I went to bed, I felt so grateful and moved, emotionally, because I realized that I have a new relationship with you. I have a new relationship in spirit, I have a new relationship with you; a clean slate, no regrets, no pain, no anger, no complication, just me and you.
Rocky Johnson passed away on January 15th from a pulmonary embolism due to a blood clot in his leg. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. You can listen to the Rock's full interview here. (H/T and transcribed by Wrestling Inc.)