On this day in wrestling history in 1977, the wrestling world lost Antonino Rocca. He was only 49 years old. He made his pro-wrestling debut in 1942.
He held the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship twice in 1948 and became so popular that he is credited with ending the box office slump at Madison Square Garden that had been evident since 1938.
In the tournament to crown the first ever WWWF World Heavyweight Champion, which was fictitious, Buddy Rogers defeated Antonino Rocca to become the champion. He had a brief stint in Japan & Puerto Rico before returning to the WWWF as a color commentator.
He last appearance in pro-wrestling occured at Madison Square Garden as he officiated a boxing match between André the Giant and Gorilla Monsoon.
He died due to complications caused by an infection. He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995.