George 'The Animal' Steele, WWE Hall of Famer dead at 79

By Wade Sheridan   |   Feb. 17, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- WWE Hall of Famer and noted professional wrestling personality George 'The Animal' Steele has died at the age of 79.

Steele, real name William James Myers, died while in hospice care Thursday night after battling illnesses since 2015 Fox Sports reports.

"Steele was one of the wildest and most unpredictable Superstars in sports-entertainment history," WWE noted in a statement.

Steele known for his green tongue, hairy torso and for eating turnbuckle pads, broke into wrestling after he had received a Master's Degree from Central Michigan University and worked as a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Detroit.

His first WWE appearance started in 1967 after he started a major rivalry against then WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino.

"For nearly 20 years, Steele was a reviled villain, managed by the likes of fellow WWE Hall of Famers The Grand Wizard, "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Capt. Lou Albano and Mr. Fuji. His classic main events against Sammartino, http://www.getsapio.com/blog/relationships-how-soon-is-too-soon/ and Bob Backlund saw him come close to winning the WWE Championship on many occasions," WWE noted.

Steele would later became a crowd favorite in 1985 after he was abandoned during a match by the villainous Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.

A number of past and present WWE stars shared their condolences on Twitter including WWE COO and part-time performer Triple H who noted, "George Steele was a one of a kind performer who could make fans smile or boo...and his competitors laugh or cry."

"I worked with him a lot when I first got to @WWE and was able to learn so much. My condolences to his family," Triple H continued in a second tweet alongside photos of Steele.

Steele is survived by his wife of 60 years Pat and their three children Dennis, Randy and Felicia.

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