Top 50 good guys in wrestling history

#49 Rocky Johnson

Rocky Johnson earned his place in sports-entertainment history on Nov. 15, 1983, when he teamed with Tony Atlas to become one-half of the first African-American World Tag Team Champions. (WATCH) But the nimble, magnetic “Soul Man” had been thrilling audiences since the mid-60s when he transitioned from boxing to wrestling and brought the fleet footedness and sharp tongue of Muhammad Ali with him.

Quick and agile despite being one of the most muscular grapplers of his era, Johnson’s smooth moves helped him become a popular attraction in areas of the country that were still struggling with segregation. The racial barriers Johnson broke are remembered today, but “Soul Man” wasn’t motivated by politics — he just wanted to entertain. “What set my dad apart from a lot of guys wasn’t the fact that he was this incredible black wrestler,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson once said of his WWE Hall of Fame father. “It was just that he was a great wrestler.” — RYAN MURPHY