The most recognizable interviewer in sports-entertainment history, Oklerlund was a truly iconic wrestling announcer for his work with the WWE, WCW and AWA and hosted several shows, including All-American Wrestling, Tuesday Night Titans, Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling.
Born on December 19, 1942 in Sisseton, South Dakota, Eugene Arthur Okerlund, known to most as “Mean Gene,” started his career as a disc jockey in Omaha, Nebraska before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota to work for a local television station.
Then, in 1970, Okerlund joined the American Wrestling Association and took over the ring announcing and interviewing from Marty O’Neill in a few short years. The rest is history.
Okerlund did it all for the wrestling community. With the help of Hulk Hogan, he pinned Mr. Fuji in a match in 1984, sang the national anthem at the first WrestleMania, made an appearance on The A-Team, and provided countless memorable segments from behind the microphone, including these two gems with “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Andre the Giant.
Needless to say, this is a tough loss for anyone who grew up watching the American Wrestling Association, World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. Many superstars such as Triple H, Steve Austin and Ted DiBiase all posted their condolences on social media.
A 2006 WWE Hall of Fame inductee, Oklerlund last appeared on WWE TV in January 2018, when he interviewed A.J. Styles during the 25th anniversary episode of World Wrestling Entertainment’s Raw.
Rest in peace, Mean Gene Okerlund. You will be missed.