He is the father of American actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Rocky Johnson was born Wayde Douglas Bowles in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where he was raised, the fourth of five sons of Lillian (née Gay) and James Henry Bowles. A Black Nova Scotian, he is descended from Black Loyalists who emigrated to Nova Scotia after escaping from a southern plantation in the United States after the American Revolutionary War. At the age of 16, Johnson moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he began wrestling and worked as a truck driver. Initially, he trained to be a boxer and eventually sparred with greats such as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, but he was always fascinated by wrestling.
Johnson began his career as a professional wrestler in 1964, in Southern Ontario; soon after his debut, he legally changed his name to his "Rocky Johnson" moniker.
He was a top contender in the National Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s, receiving title matches against then-World Champions Terry Funk and Harley Race. He was well-suited to tag team wrestling, winning several regional tag team championships in the NWA. Johnson wrestled off and on in the Memphis promotion, often feuding with Jerry Lawler, winning Lawler's crown at one point. He also wrestled under a mask as "Sweet Ebony Diamond" in the Mid-Atlantic area.
In 1983, he was recruited by the World Wrestling Federation where he feuded with Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Mike Sharpe, Buddy Rose, and Adrian Adonis. He was then paired with Tony Atlas as a tag team. They defeated the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) for the Tag Team Championship on November 15, 1983. They were the first black tag team to hold the tag title. Together, Johnson and Atlas were known as "The Soul Patrol".
After retiring in 1991, Johnson along with Pat Patterson, trained his son Dwayne to wrestle. While he initially resisted his son's entry into the business because he knew it was extremely difficult, he agreed to train his son on the condition that he would not go easy on him. Johnson was instrumental in getting Dwayne (later dubbed "Rocky Maivia" after both Rocky Johnson's and Peter Maivia's ring names) signed to a WWF developmental deal. Initially, Johnson had an on-camera presence at his son's matches, jumping into the ring on his son's behalf after he was attacked by The Sultan and The Iron Sheik at WrestleMania 13. Johnson was not seen on-camera again after the Rocky Maivia character flopped, but this was actually a blessing, as his son achieved crossover popularity as a cocky heel, The Rock.
Johnson was hired as a trainer for the WWE developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, in early 2003 but was let go in May of that year. On February 25, 2008, Johnson was announced as an inductee for the 2008 class of the WWE Hall of Fame along with his father-in-law "High Chief" Peter Maivia. Both he and his father-in-law were inducted into the Hall of Fame on March 29, 2008 by his son, The Rock.
Johnson married into a prolific Samoan wrestling family, which included the Anoa'i family, by marrying "High Chief" Peter Maivia's daughter Ata Maivia. Ata met Rocky after Maivia and Johnson were tag team partners in a match on the independent scene. Maivia disapproved of the relationship—not because of anything personal against Johnson, but because of Johnson's chosen profession, as he knew first hand how hard it was for the wrestlers' families who were at home while they were constantly on the road. The couple had a son, Dwayne, on May 2, 1972. In his first television acting job, Dwayne Johnson portrayed his father in a season 1 (1999) episode of That '70s Show called "That Wrestling Show".
Johnson currently lives in Davie, Florida. He and Ata divorced in 2003. He also has two other children, as he announced during his 2008 Hall of Fame induction, a son Curtis, and a daughter Wanda from his first marriage in 1967. Johnson is honoured as being the first non-Samoan to be named High Chief. His title is High Chief Tafiaiafi.Finishing moves
Championship Wrestling from Florida
NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Florida version) (1 time)
NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Pedro Morales
NWA Florida Television Championship (1 time)
Continental Wrestling Association
AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Jimmy Valiant (1) and Soul Train Jones (1)
Georgia Championship Wrestling
NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jerry Brisco
NWA Macon Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Danny Little Bear
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
NWA Television Championship (2 times)
NWA All-Star Wrestling
NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) (1 time) – with Don Leo Jonathan
NWA Big Time Wrestling
NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Texas version) (1 time)
NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jose Lothario
NWA World Tag Team Championship (Detroit version) (1 time) – with Ben Justice
NWA Hollywood Wrestling
NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NWA Americas Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Earl Maynard
NWA "Beat the Champ" Television Championship (2 times)
NWA Mid-America / Continental Wrestling Association
CWA/AWA International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Bill Dundee
NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Memphis version) (1 time)
NWA San Francisco
NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (San Francisco version) (1 time)
NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (4 times) – with Pat Patterson (3) and Pepper Gomez (1)
NWA Polynesian Wrestling
NWA Polynesian Pacific Tag Team Championship (2 time) - with Ricky Johnson
Pacific Northwest Wrestling
NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Brett Sawyer (1) and Iceman Parsons (1)
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Ranked No. 211 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame
(Class of 2008)
World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment
WWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Tony Atlas
WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2008)