Pedro Morales, the former WWE Champion, has died at the age of 76 following a battle with Parkinson’s disease. Reporter Hugo Savinovich was the first to report that Morales, a one-time champion of the WWWF, had passed away on February 12.
During his career, Morales also held the Intercontinental title and the tag-team titles, alongside Bob Backlund. This made him the first Triple Crown Champion in the company’s history. Morales was a native of Puerto Rico who grew up in Brooklyn. In his storied career wrestled for World Wrestling Associates, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Mid-Pacific Promotions and NWA San Francisco. He will be forever remembered for his two spells with the McMahon family business, first between 1970 and again between 1980 and 1987. In retirement, Morales, his wife, Karen, and their son Pedro Junior, settled in the Woodbridge Township of New Jersey where he adopted a less hazardous hobby in gardening.
In April 2018, one of Morales’ contemporaries, Bruno Sammartino, died. A Ringer tribute to him mentioned that Morales was the “paradigm of the scientific wrestler.” The same piece mentions that the reason Morales run at the top wasn’t very long was because he didn’t “click” with audiences in the same manner as Sammartino.
Morales will forever be remembered by fans for his battles with Stan Stasiak, Larry Henning and Mr. Fuji, during the 1970s. During one battle, alongside Bruno Sammartino, with Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka at Shea Stadium, a misunderstanding between the two “good guys” led to what many believe to be the first feud between two “good guys” in professional wrestling.
Morales was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995. More recently, in December 2017, Morales was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame. According to his official profile on the WWE website, Morales made his professional wrestling debut in 1959 when he was still a teenager.