Fightful is sad to report that Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco has passed away. He was 69.
The news of Rocco's passing was announced by All Star Wrestling UK. They wrote, "It is with the greatest of sadness that we have to announce the passing of the one and only MARK ROLLERBALL ROCCO, after suffering for the past few months - our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad time."
Rocco debuted in All Star Wrestling in 1981. He was the original Black Tiger in Japan, famously feuding with Tiger Mask in NJPW beginning in 1982. He won the WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion and World Mid-Heavyweight Championship during his time in wrestling. He shared the ring with the likes of Dynamite Kid, Jushin Thunder Liger, Owen Hart, Tatsumi Fujinami, and more.
I’ve woken to the terrible news that my friend and colleague Mark “ Rollerball” Rocco has passed away. Mark was so ahead of his time and wether as himself or the original “Black Tiger” in @njpwglobal, he, along with Marty Jones were the...— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
.. true originators of the fast paced, hard hitting Jr Heavyweight style we see today. In 1978 I saw a match of theirs and it took my Wrestling fandom to a different world. Becoming a friend and getting to Wrestle Mark at 18 a dream come true.....— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
..Mark had an unbeilable work ethic in and out of the ring and my life was better for knowing him. There aren’t enough words for me to explain how much it means to me to be fortunate enough to have know him, wrestled him and explain how much he meant....— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
... to the British and World wide wrestling scene and I just wished I could have one more of the hundreds of car rides I had with him “hold court” with his wonderful stories. My deepest condolences to all of Marks family.— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) July 31, 2020
Rocco last wrestled in 1990.
WWE also issued a statement on the passing of the British wrestling legend:
WWE is saddened to learn that Mark “Rollerball” Rocco has passed away at the age of 69.
A fourth-generation wrestler, Rocco became renowned for his grappling exploits around the world, competing as the original masked Black Tiger and winning the WWE Junior Heavyweight Championship.
The Manchester native tangled with a who’s-who of sports-entertainment icons, such as Jushin Liger, Dynamite Kid, Tiger Mask, Fit Finlay and more.
Known as a pioneer of today’s modern cruiserweight style and a legend of British wrestling, Rocco left a lasting influence on the industry, including NXT General Manager William Regal and NXT UK Superstar Flash Morgan Webster.
WWE extends its condolences to Rocco’s family, friends and fans.
On behalf of Fightful, we would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Rocco.