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Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco passes away at 69 years old

British wrestling legend and junior heavyweight innovator Mark "Rollerball" Rocco (Mark Hussey) has passed away at 69 years old.

Rocco's passing was announced by All Star Wrestling, who wrote that Rocco had been suffering for the past few months: "It is with the greatest of sadness that we have to announce the passing of the one and only MARK ROLLERBALL ROCCO, after suffering for the past few months - our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad time."

Rocco was the original Black Tiger in Japan, debuting for NJPW in 1982 as a rival of Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama).

"Whether you know him as the original Black Tiger, 'Rollerball' or simply by his name, Mark Rocco left an indelible imprint on our industry," Chris Hero tweeted in tribute to Rocco. "Whether it’s versus Sayama, Fujinami, Dynamite, Marty Jones- do yourself a favor & watch a match of his today. Rest In Peace."

"It seems the sad news keeps coming these days. Very sad to see the passing of Rollerball Rocco; one of the innovators of the Jnr. Heavyweight style of wrestling that we love so dear. It was wonderful to have him as guest of honour at our first ever York Hall show," Revolution Pro Wrestling's Andy Quildan tweeted. "The original Black Tiger, a mentor for one Jushin Thunder Liger on his UK excursion. Responsible for some of the most thrilling matches of his generation alongside the likes of the original Tiger Mask and Dynamite Kid, Rollerball was one of the very best. RIP"

"I’ve woken to the terrible news that my friend and colleague Mark 'Rollerball' Rocco has passed away," William Regal wrote. "Mark was so ahead of his time and wether as himself or the original 'Black Tiger' in @njpwglobal, he, along with Marty Jones were the true originators of the fast paced, hard hitting Jr Heavyweight style we see today. In 1978 I saw a match of theirs and it took my Wrestling fandom to a different world. Becoming a friend and getting to Wrestle Mark at 18 a dream come true.

"Mark had an unbeilable work ethic in and out of the ring and my life was better for knowing him. There aren’t enough words for me to explain how much it means to me to be fortunate enough to have know him, wrestled him and explain how much he meant to the British and World wide wrestling scene and I just wished I could have one more of the hundreds of car rides I had with him 'hold court' with his wonderful stories. My deepest condolences to all of Marks family."