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Ric Flair mourns the death of fellow WWE wrestling legend ‘Handsome’ Harley Race

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The wrestling world is mourning the death of legend “Handsome” Harley Race, a WWE Hall of Famer whose career spanned nearly four decades.

Race, known as one of the toughest guys in and out of the ring, died Thursday after a months-long battle with lung cancer, multiple media outlets reported.

Ric Flair was among the mourners, describing Race on Twitter as “a great personal friend.”

Flair tweeted Race as “the one and only REAL world champion.”

“Without Harley Race, There Was No Ric Flair,” Flair tweeted. “I Tried My Hardest Every Day To Live Up To His Standard In The Ring.”

Race’s Twitter account announced on Thursday, “Today at 12:50, we lost the man that fought up until the very last of his existence .... Harley Race, we love you.”

Race’s wrestling persona was usually as one of the bad guys. He was an eight-time National Wrestling Alliance worlds heavyweight champion.

“Today the world lost one of the toughest men ever to walk God’s green earth,” NWA officials tweeted. “The entire sport of professional wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Harley.”

World Wrestling Entertainment officials tweeted, “WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race passed away today at age 76. WWE extends its condolences to Race’s family, friends and fans.”

On Aug. 1, NWA officials tweeted what they said was one of Race’s final public interviews, on #TenPoundsOfGold with @RealNickAldis.

In the interview, Race described what it meant to be an NWA champion.

“No matter how you frame it, it comes out to where if you were lucky enough to have held it, it’s damnable good,” Race said.

Race, Flair, Dusty Rhodes and Ricky Steamboat were among the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling stars of the 1950s through 1980s who appeared on TV and in high school gyms across the Carolinas and Virginia, and in matches at the old Charlotte Coliseum, former Observer columnist Tom Sorensen wrote in 2004.

At a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fanfest in Charlotte in 2004, Race thanked the crowd for paying his bills by coming out to watch him and buying his book, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time.

“You supported me,” Race told the crowd, before quipping: “Well, not in the ring,” the Observer reported.

“This is just a chance to say, thank you,” he told the fans.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.
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