Thursday, March 28, 2019

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson shares Wildwood memory from 1983

From Chubby Checker to Kenny Chesney and everyone in between, the Wildwoods have played host to an astonishing list of talent from the world of entertainment.

But, have you ever wondered how many famous folks have visited before they reached "celebrity" status?

Yesterday, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, professional wrestling legend and one of Hollywood's biggest names, shared a photo of himself and his father, "Soul Man" Rocky Johnson, outside Wildwood Convention Hall in 1983.

The elder Johnson, here signing autographs for fans, was a popular attraction at the venue, where the World Wrestling Federation was a red hot act throughout the 1970's and 80's.

(The tradition continues today with WWE's annual visit to the Wildwoods Convention Center, which replaced its predecessor in 2000.)

The photo was shared from an 80's wrestling page on Twitter, but was originally posted by Atilis Gym (3015 Pacific Avenue), a favorite training spot for many wrestlers and bodybuilders then and now.

Note that father and son are both sporting Atilis hats!

"Wow what a pic," wrote Johnson. "Back when my dad (along w @tonyatlas) became @WWE’s first Black Tag Team Champions. I adored my old man here at 11yrs old and clearly couldn’t wait to start hitting the gym. After I fixed my horribly bucked teeth."

The Rock would do OK for himself in the years to come.

In 1991, eight years after the above photo was snapped, he won a national football championship as a member of the Miami Hurricanes. After graduation, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and began training for a career in pro wrestling.

Promoted as the WWF's first third generation star (his grandfather was "High Chief" Peter Maivia, also no stranger to the mat wars in Wildwood), he gained mainstream fame after developing a charismatic, trash-talking persona.

He went on to become a multi-time WWF/WWE world champion, headlined WrestleMania several times, and ultimately parlayed his success as "The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment" into a hugely successful acting career.

Today, Johnson is one of the highest paid actors in the world, as well as a producer, a best-selling author, and... well, he seems to pop up just about everywhere.

Who would have ever thought, back in 1983, huh?

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