Rowdy Roddy Piper. Photo via
Rowdy Roddy Piper. Photo via
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, one of professional wrestling’s most iconic villains known for his trademark red kilt and his legendary battles with grappling royalty such as Hulk Hogan and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, died Friday at his home in Hollywood.

The website TMZ reported that Piper, whose real name was Roderick George Toombs, died of cardiac arrest around noon. Piper was 61.

The Canadian native began wrestling professionally as a teenager before moving on to various wrestling organizations, but he rose to fame when he joined the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1980s, first as a manager but then as a grappler.

His adrenaline-fueled verbal rants made him an ideal villain, and he would often make enemies of the guests he invited to his WWF interview segment, “Piper’s Pit.”

He became a longtime adversary of Hulk Hogan, with whom he battled in “Wrestlemania I” as part of a tag-team match — with Piper teamed with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Hogan paired with guest-wrestler Mr. T.

Piper and Mr. T squared off again in “Wrestlemania II,” but this time in a boxing match, which ended in Piper being disqualified for picking up his opponent and body-slamming him to the mat.

Piper announced in 2006 that he was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he recently declared himself cancer-free, TMZ reported.

He was a “paid regular” at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, where is name appears on the wall with the hundreds of comedians who have performed at the club.

“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world,” said Vince McMahon, chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, the successor organization to WWF. “I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

— City News Service

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