“Mean Gene” Okerlund, the legendary interviewer and most famous announcer in the history of pro wrestling passed away. He’d just celebrated his 76th birthday December 19.
“Mean Gene” made his name by interviewing the top names in wrestling including Jesse “The Body” Ventura, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. He provided commentary and conducted in-ring and back-stage interviews.
Take a look at this clip with Andre the Giant:
Okerlund’s career had many highlights including singing the National Anthem at WrestleMania in 1985, being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, and even serving as best man at the Iron Shiek’s wedding.
Check out this promo from 1986:
Just how did “Mean Gene” get his moniker? Here’s how that story goes:
“Jesse [Ventura] and I were talking on the air in Minneapolis with the AWA,” recalled Okerlund. “Jesse said something about once serving as the bodyguard for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and I said, ‘Tom Petty, that’s a pretty big name.’ Jesse didn’t miss a beat and responded, ‘You don’t even know who Tom Petty is!’ I corrected him and said, ‘I certainly do, Jesse, he is the famous race car driver.’
“That’s when Jesse said, ‘That’s mean, Gene,’ and that is how the origin of ‘Mean Gene’ started.
Here’s an interview from early last year with AJ Styles:
He even had a few bloopers from time to time.
His exact cause of death is not known at this time, but he did have two kidney transplants, one in 1995 and the other in 2004.
We’ll all surely miss his voice. Rest in peace “Mean Gene.”