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Ric Flair leads tributes to Dusty Rhodes

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Ric Flair leads tributes to Dusty Rhodes

Ric Flair considers Dusty Rhodes to have been among his "greatest opponents and greatest friends".

The wrestler - whose real name was Virgil Runnels, but was widely known as The American Dream - passed away aged 69 yesterday and his on-screen rival has led the tributes to one of the sport's most colourful personalities.

Ric told TMZ: "Today I lost one of my greatest opponents and greatest friends. He was the definition of heart and soul and I'm honored to have shared the ring with him countless times.

"He became the 'American Dream' because wrestling needed a hero they could respect, and he was the man for the job. Dusty Rhodes, I will miss you my mentor and friend."

Ric also tweeted: "My mentor. Much love to your family and more respect than can ever be measured. Love you Dream. (sic)"

The Texan-born fighter began his glittering wrestling career in the late 1960s and his performances would later earn him a place in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame.

In a statement, the WWE said: "Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit."

Elsewhere, professional wrestler Paul Levesque, who's also known as Triple H, paid tribute to the iconic fighter.

He said: "Saddened to hear the passing of Dusty Rhodes. Legend, teacher, mentor, friend ... Love you Dream.! (sic)"

Meanwhile, a WWE spokesperson refused to reveal the cause of death or where the retired wrestler died.