WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
WWE Hall of Famer Pedro Morales dies aged 76
Last Updated: 13/02/19 9:19am
WWE Hall of Famer and the company's first Triple Crown champion, Pedro Morales, has died at the age of 76.
Morales was a huge star of the company when it was known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) and operating as a New York-based territory under Vince McMahon Sr.
His first run as the WWWF world champion lasted almost three years and was an iconic performer to the region's Hispanic population, who would turn out in their thousands for his matches in the famous Manhattan venue Madison Square Garden.
A native of Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, Morales moved to New York City in his youth and debuted in the ring in 1959 at the age of 17.
After establishing his reputation as a fiery competitor in WWE on the east coast, Morales travelled west to territories in Texas and California, where he competed for much of the 1960s. In California, he battled The Destroyer in a famous rivalry, and formed a popular tag team with Pepper Gomez.
Morales returned to WWE in 1970, and in less than a year, he captured the WWE Championship from Ivan Koloff at the Garden. During his nearly three years on top, Morales developed a passionate following in the northeast.
More than 22,000 fans turned out to Shea Stadium in 1972 to watch him battle close friend and former champion Bruno Sammartino in the main event of the inaugural Showdown at Shea supercard. After 75 minutes of action, the bout was ruled a draw in accordance with the state athletic commission's strict 11pm curfew.
Goodbye to a great friend. One of the kindest, wisest wrestlers I ever knew. When I first started in WWE, he told me: “You can’t stop talent.” I followed those words for the rest of my career. RIP Pedro Morales— Bret Hart (@BretHart) February 13, 2019
He held the WWE Title for a staggering 1,027 days before losing it to Stan Stasiak in December 1973. Morales puts his name in the record books again in 1980 when he won the World tag titles with Bob Backlund and then the Intercontinental title to become the first Triple Crown champion in WWE history.
Morales hung up his boots in 1987 but continued on as an ambassador for sports-entertainment. He later became a commentator for both WCW and WWE's Spanish announce teams, and in 1995, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.