Terry Funk recently spoke with Sports Illustrated ahead of his upcoming return to the ring. The 73 year old wrestling legend opened up about his dad Dory Funk’s passing and discussed what the fans mean to him.

On Dory Funk’s wrestling-related passing:

My pop was in the business and he loved it very much. He actually went ahead and passed away while wrestling. We used to have a few parties out at the house and invite the wrestlers. There was one by the name of Lance Thornton, and he thought he could take my father. My father went ahead and said, ‘Dah gumit, I don’t think you can do that.’ So everybody pushed by the tables and chairs in the house, and they went at it.

My father, who was 54 at the time, beat him. He sat down beside me and said, ‘Wasn’t bad for an old man, was it?’ Then he got up and left the room and went out the front door. About 15 minutes later, my wife came to me and said, ‘Your father is out on the front porch and thinks he’s having a heart attack.’ Sure enough, he was, and he passed away. He passed away doing what he loved. I certainly don’t want to pass away, but I’m doing what I love. And so what if I’m doing it in my 70s? I know this is hard for some people to understand, but I still think I can kick ass. This love of wrestling has been in my family with my dad, my brother, and myself. To this day, it’s what I love.

I don’t want to die. The last thing I want to do is go in a wrestling ring with a bunch of people watching. I’d rather it be somewhere high up on a mountain. I don’t need any fans there for that.

On what the fans mean to him:

The crowd is everything in my life. I just love the fans, and I also have a lot of respect for them. They’ve given me everything I have in my life. They’ve given me my house. They gave me my ranch when I had a ranch; don’t have one now, I sold the damn thing, but I shouldn’t have because if went up in value.

It’s the wrestling fans who’ve done that, and nobody else, and I understand that. I more than appreciate them, I love ‘em. I’ve got all the time in the world for them. I’ll be with them until midnight if they want; if they want an autograph, I’ll give them one.

Funk will be teaming up with the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express to perform in two 6-man tag matches against Jerry “The King” Lawler, Brian Christopher, and Doug Gilbert for the Big Time Wrestling promotion. The dates will be Friday, September 22 at the Dorton Arena in Raeleigh, North Carolina, and Saturday, September 23 at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

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