King Kong Bundy, real name Christopher Alan Pallies, died at the age of 61 on Monday afternoon, according to his close friend David Herro.
The independent wrestling promoter broke the news via Facebook on Monday evening. The cause of death was not revealed at the time.
“Today we lost a Legend and a man I consider family,” Herro wrote. “Rest in Peace Chris. We love you.”
Standing a 6-foot-4, 458 pounds, Bundy trained under Larry Sharpe at the Monster Factory in New Jersey before making his wrestling debut in March 1981 for the World Wrestling Federation. He’d go on wrestle for the NWA, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Georgia Championship Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling and a handful of smaller promotions before joining the WWF in 1985.
With Jimmy Hart and eventually Bobby “The Brain” Heenan as his managers, Bundy rose up the card as a dominant monster heel, defeating S.D. Jones in just nine seconds at the first WrestleMania (a record that would last up until WrestleMania XXIV). Bundy then went on to have a long feud with Andre The Giant before turning his attention to WWF Champion Hulk Hogan.
On an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event in March 1986, Bundy attacked Hogan during a match and severely injured his ribs (in storyline) by repeatedly hitting him with big splashes on his back. This led to a steel cage match at WrestleMania 2, the highest-profile match of Bundy’s career. Hogan won by escaping the cage.
Bundy wrestled full-time with the WWF up through early 1988 before entering semi-retirement. He returned to the company in 1994 to join Ted DiBiase as part of the Million Dollar Corporation, eventually leading to a match at WrestleMania XI where he lost to The Undertaker. He left the company once again in 1995, never winning a single championship in the WWF.
He continued to wrestle on the independent scene over the next 12 years, with his last recorded match coming in December 2007.
Aside from wrestling, Bundy also tried his hand at acting with a pair of appearances on the comedy Married… with Children, a small role in the 1988 Richard Pryor film Moving and an appearance on an episode of Weird Science as himself.
Shane “Hurricane” Helms was one of the first wrestlers to react to news on social media.