By Mary Lynn Smith, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Legendary wrestler and promoter Verne Gagne died Monday surrounded by his family in Minnesota, according to close friends. He was 89.
News of his death reverberated through the wrestling world in tweets and Facebook posts that paid tribute to the Robbinsdale High School wrestler who went on to make a mark in the worlds of both amateur and professional wrestling.
Gagne, whose wrestling career spanned from 1949 to 1985, defined wrestling in Minnesota, according the Minnesota Sports Almanac.
“He was a pioneer in modern day era wrestling,” said Gene Okerlund, longtime friend and announcer for Gagne’s All Star Wrestling show that originated in a studio near Lake Calhoun. “He was the one of the first guys who became a television star. He was one of the first good-looking young guys. And I mean he was a real baby face. The gals loved him, the guys respected him because he was also one of the tough-nosed guys.”
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