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George 'The Animal' Steele, WWE Star, Dies at 79

by Reuters /
Legendary professional wrestler George "The Animal" Steele makes an appearance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 2012.Barry Chin / Boston Globe via Getty Images

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William James Myers, better known by his name in the WWE ring, George "The Animal" Steele, has died, WWE announced Friday morning. He was 79.

The wrestling company issued a statement after Hulk Hogan tweeted out, "George 'the Animal' Steel, RIP my brother, only love, only grateful." No other details about his cause of death have been released.

A Detroit native, Steele attended Michigan State and played for the university's football team. After earning his bachelor's and master's, he coached wrestling and football in Michigan.

Related: Controversial Wrestler Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka Dead at 73

Steele first entered the ring under the pseudonym "The Student." But when he was scouted and began appearing on television, he changed his name to George Steele.

Legendary professional wrestler George "The Animal" Steele makes an appearance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 2012.Barry Chin / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Earning his nickname "The Animal," Steele was known for tearing up the turnbuckle with his teeth, sticking out his green tongue and generally acting like a wild man. He was inducted into the professional wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005.

Outside of wrestling, Steele made his film debut in 1994 with Tim Burton's "Ed Wood" in which he played Swedish wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson. His other credits include several shorts, 1997's "Blowfish" and 2003's "Small Town Conspiracy."

Related: Legendary Professional Wrestler ‘Chyna’ Joanie Laurer Dies at 46

Wrestling legends, including Kurt Angle and Triple H, remembered Steele on social media for the energy he brought to the ring.

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