WWE Hall of Famer George “The Animal” Steele passed away Friday at the age of 79.
Eric Simms first shared Steele’s condition on his ESS Promotions’ Facebook page. He mentioned in an update Thursday night that the wrestling legend had been moved to hospice care. On Friday, both Simms and Hulk Hogan tweeted Steele passed away. The news was confirmed by the WWE.
Steele revealed last May that he was dealing with serious health issues. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1988 and had his colon removed in 2002. Once the news hit of his passing, the wrestling world immediately started grieving.
“George ‘the Animal’ Steel, RIP my bother, only love, only grateful. HH,” Hogan tweeted Friday morning.
Steele, who was born Jim Myers, debuted in 1967 and began gaining in popularity when he started playing a hairy, green-tongued human monster that bit off turnbuckle pads, which was referred to as “The Animal”. He would also smash his opponent’s face into the exposed roping behind the turnbuckle pads. Steele continued to draw fans by also becoming infatuated with female valets like Miss Elizabeth.
His biggest rival was “Macho Man” Randy Savage, who he would fight for the hand of Miss Elizabeth. Steele fought “Macho Man” for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 2 and was ring-side for one of the most memorable matches of all-time – Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at WrestleMania 3.
Steele retired in 1988 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995. But despite retirement, his wrestling career continued into the 1990s and 2000s.