Longtime wrestling announcer Howard Finkel died at the age of 69 on Thursday, April 16, according to the WWE.
The professional wrestling league addressed the heartbreaking news in a statement on Thursday afternoon, recalling the several contributions Finkel made to the sport throughout his career. “When considering the greatest ring announcers in the history of sports and sports-entertainment, you’d be hard-pressed to name one better than Howard Finkel,” the statement read. “In addition to his legendary tenure as a ring announcer, The Fink was an indispensable resource inside the WWE offices for his vast knowledge of sports-entertainment history.”
The New Jersey native, lovingly called “The Fink” by wrestling fans, began his career announcing at Madison Square Garden in 1977 for the predecessor for the WWE, the WWWF. Two years later, he became the league’s full-time ring announcer. By the time the WWE was established in 1980, Finkel was its first employee. Fans were able to instantly recognize his distinct announcing voice as “The Fink” declared some of WWE’s greatest champions, including “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The longest-serving WWE employee was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2009.
As the sad news made its way through the wrestling community, fans and athletes alike shared their thoughts and prayers with Finkel’s family. “Howard Finkel was on Team Hogan through the good and bad times, even when I was on the outs,” Hulk Hogan tweeted on Thursday. “Howard would call on a consistent basis to tell me to always keep my head up … RIP, I love you 4 Life.”
Triple H (real name Paul Michael Levesque) noted that it wasn’t “until you heard Howard announce you” that you had made your name in the sport. “His voice, his personality, and his positivity will be sorely missed. Thank you for everything … especially your friendship,” the 14-time wrestling world champion tweeted.
News of the WWE icon’s death comes shortly after the company announced that it would be making major layoffs for at least six months during the coronavirus pandemic.