Gorilla Monsoon Tribute
Robert Marella, known to his fans worldwide as Gorilla Monsoon, passed away recently at the age of 62. He was a well-respected and beloved member of our family who will be sorely missed. The World Wrestling Federation would like to send its deepest sympathies to his family and friends. We lost another "Good-Guy" in the business, we will always remember him and all the ones we've lost.~
Thanks to Jason Teaster
The following courtesy of The Boston Globe:
ILLINGBORO, N.J. - Former professional wrestler Robert ''Gorilla Monsoon'' Marella, beloved in the ring in the villain's role and later a television announcer, died Wednesday at his home. He was 62.
A former Olympian, Mr. Marella stood 6 feet 6 inches and weighed 400 pounds. In recent years he had suffered from heart disease and diabetes.
He began his wrestling career in the 1960s, competing in more than 8,000 matches before retiring in the early 1980s. He once shared a world tag-team title with ''Killer'' Kowalski.
''Gorilla Monsoon was one of the best bad guys ever in the business,'' Bill Apter, editor-in-chief of World of Wrestling magazine, wrote in a tribute. ''His fierce growl and full beard persuaded people to take his `gorilla' persona very seriously.''
Initially a villain who feuded with pro wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino, Mr. Marella later became beloved among fans of the ever-growing entertainment genre. After retiring he became a ringside analyst on WWF telecasts.
Mr. Marella was known for his on-air banter with colleague Jesse ''The Body'' Ventura, a former professional wrestler now governor of Minnesota.
''The loss of Gorilla Monsoon saddens me deeply,'' Ventura said in a statement. ''He was both a friend and a colleague, and I have many fond memories of the time we spent together. He will be missed.''
A fellow southern New Jersey pro wrestler, King Kong Bundy, said the younger generation of grapplers was honored to have Mr. Marella at ringside announcing their bouts on television.
''He was somebody who knew the business,'' Bundy said. ''A great guy, a real class act.''
Mr. Marella served as president of the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1990s and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1994.
A son, Joey Marella, became a WWF referee in the 1980s. He died in an auto accident in Burlington in 1994. Thereafter, Robert Marella kept a lower profile in the wrestling business and seldom appeared on television.
''When his son got killed in a car accident, I think that took a lot out of him,'' Bundy said.
Mr. Marella grew up in western New York. He began wrestling at age 8 in a YMCA. He later held New York scholastic records in the shot put and discus.
He graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in physical education and physiotherapy, and worked briefly as a teacher before a wrestling promoter offered him $500 to don the tights.
Despite his fearsome appearance, Mr. Marella's Willingboro neighbors remember him mainly as a loving father who prided himself on his lasagna.
Mr. Marella leaves his wife, Maureen, a son, and two daughters.