Former pro wrestler “Luscious” Johnny Valiant died on Wednesday, April 4, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office confirms to Us Weekly. He was 71.
Officials told the news agency that Valiant (real name Thomas Sullivan) died at a hospital after being hit by a truck while crossing a busy street in Ross Township, Pennsylvania, around 5:30 a.m. The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene, according to the Associated Press.
Valiant began his wrestling career in Detroit in 1969. He won the World Tag Team Championship five years later with his Valiant Brothers partner “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant (real name James Fanning). In 1976, Jimmy retired to become a manager and was replaced by “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant (real name John Hill). Johnny and Jerry won the World Tag Team Championship in 1979.
In the 1980s, Johnny worked as a manager for Hulk Hogan. He returned to the WWE in 1985 and later managed fellow tag team partners, including 1985 champs Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, as well as Adolfo “Dino Bravo” Bresciano and Demolition’s Bill “Ax” Eadie and Barry “Smash” Darsow.
The wrestler provided color commentary for the WWE in the late ‘80s. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 alongside “Handsome” Jimmy.
In more recent years, Johnny worked as an actor and stand-up comedian. He appeared on multiple episodes of The Sopranos and Law & Order, in addition to hosting a one man show in New York City called “An Evening With Johnny Valiant.”
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