WWE Hall of Famer Ernie Ladd passed away last night, according to TheNewsStar.com. Ladd, 68, had been battling cancer since 2004.
Professionally known as the “Big Cat,” Ladd was one of the premiere professional wrestlers of the 1960s and 1970s. Long-time fans in the Northeast particularly remember the havoc he wreaked in WWE throughout the ‘70s as one of the biggest names the territory had ever seen. Managed by the Grand Wizard, Ladd was a persistent challenger to WWE Champions Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Bob Backlund.
Prior to a successful career in sports-entertainment, Ladd earned fame as a dominant football player at both the college and pro level. He was a star lineman for Louisiana’s Grambling State University in the late ‘50s, and was recruited in 1961 by the AFL’s San Diego Chargers. He was a member of the Chargers’ 1963 AFL Championship team, and appeared in four straight AFL All-Star Games from 1962-1965. In addition to the Chargers, he also played for the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs.