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Dusty Rhodes, wrestling legend, passes away at 69

SB Nation logo SB Nation 6/11/2015 Kevin McCauley

On Thursday, WWE confirmed that legendary wrestler Dusty Rhodes had passed away at the age of 69. The company gave no details about the nature of his death. Rhodes, real name Virgil Runnels, appeared on WWE programming as recently as April and worked with young talent in the company's developmental system in Florida.

"The American Dream" and "son of a plumber" started his wrestling career in the early 1970s and worked in every major nationally televised promotion in the United States -- WWE, WCW, ECW and TNA. He was a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion and is best known for his classic matches in NWA promotions against the likes of Ric Flair and Harley Race. He was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated's most popular wrestler of the year three times and won their match of the year twice.

Runnels worked as a part-time wrestler while booking promotions until the mid-90s, when he mostly retired from in-ring action to be a manager and commentator. He has worked backstage for WWE since 2005 and was elected to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.

He's survived by his wife Michelle, his two sons Dustin Runnels, best known as Goldust, and Cody Runnels, known as Cody Rhodes and Stardust in WWE, and his daughters Teil and Kristen.

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