MINNEAPOLIS — Eugene “Mean Gene” Okerlund, whose deadpan interviews of pro wrestling superstars like “Macho Man” Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan made him a ringside fixture in his own right, has died. He was 76.

Gene Okerlund

World Wrestling Entertainment announced Okerlund’s death on its website Wednesday. Okerlund’s son, Tor Okerlund, told The Associated Press that his father died early Wednesday at a hospital in Sarasota, Florida, near his home in Osprey, Florida, with his wife, Jeanne, by his side.

Tor Okerlund said his father, who had received three kidney transplants, fell a few weeks ago “and it just kind of went from bad to worse.”

Okerlund started as an interviewer in the Minneapolis-based American Wrestling Association. He moved to WWE in 1984 and hosted several shows, including “All-American Wrestling,” “Tuesday Night Titans” and “Prime Time Wrestling.”

Besides being WWE’s lead locker room interviewer, he also provided ringside commentary.

Former wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who wrestled as “The Body,” dubbed Okerlund “Mean Gene.”

Ventura told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Wednesday that in an interview he “laughingly called him ‘the Mean Gene Hot Air Machine,’ and the ‘Mean Gene’ stuck.”

Ventura called Okerlund “the best at what he did, the best straight man interviewer in wrestling history.”


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