Pedro Morales: WWE hall of fame star and former champion dies aged 76 | US News

Wrestler Pedro Morales, who was the first triple crown winner in WWE history, has died at the age of 76.

The Puerto Rican star reportedly had Parkinson’s disease in recent years.

Morales was a former WWE heavyweight champion, holding the title for 1,027 days before losing to Stan Stasiak in Philadelphia in December 1973.

He also held the WWE intercontinental championship twice and the WWE world tag team championship once, making him the WWE’s first triple crown winner.

Morales was inducted into the WWE hall of fame in 1995, making him one of the first inductees.

He moved to New York as a young man and made his debut in the ring at the age of 17 in 1959.

He did not hang up his boots until 1987, later becoming a commentator.

Fellow fighter Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart said Morales was “one of the kindest, wisest wrestlers I ever knew”.

He added in a tweet: “When I first started in WWE, he told me: ‘You can’t stop talent.’ I followed those words for the rest of my career.”

Pedro Morales. Pic: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock
Morales made his debut in the ring in 1959. Pic: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

The Iron Sheik said Morales was “one of the best ever”, and an “excellent human being”, adding: “RIP my brother.”

Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman wrote: “Pedro Morales was a great man & I’m honored to be able to say I knew him. #RIPPedroMorales #PedroMorales.”

Ric Flair tweeted: “My Friend Pedro Morales, Whom I Had The Honor Of Working With Twice! RIP And Always Be Remembered For Your Saying ‘I’m Ready For Any Kind Of Action’.”

Morales competed in the 1960s in Texas and California, where he formed a famous rivalry with The Destroyer and made a popular tag team with Pepper Gomez.

Within a year of returning to New York in 1970 he captured the WWE heavyweight championship title from Ivan Koloff at Madison Square Garden.

In 1972, more than 22,000 fans turned out to watch him battle friend and former champion Bruno Sammartino at Shea Stadium in New York.

The bout was declared a draw after 75 minutes to comply with a local 11pm curfew.

Morales finally lost the WWE title to Stan Stasiak in 1973.

WWE said it extended its “condolences to Morales’ family, friends and fans”.

Last August, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart – the tag-team partner of Bret Hart – died at the age of 63.

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