As noted, former NWA, WWE and Mid-Atlantic wrestler Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71.
In an update, F4Wonline.com reports that Kernodle’s death was self-inflicted. There are no other details available as of this writing, but Kernodle had dealt with various health issues over the past several years.
Kernodle, who had a law enforcement career following his pro wrestling days, was scheduled to be inducted into the Lou Thesz/George Tragos Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in July.
WWE issued the following statement on Kernodle’s passing:
Don Kernodle passes away
WWE is saddened to learn that Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71.
After a wrestling career at Elon College, Kernodle broke into the sports-entertainment world with Jim Crockett Productions in 1973. The grappler burst onto the scene of the National Wrestling Alliance as part of Sgt. Slaughter’s “Cobra Corps,” teaming with Slaughter and Pvt. Jim Nelson. The partnership spawned multiple NWA World and Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship reigns for Kernodle, battling the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Iceman King Parsons and others.
Kernodle competed with WWE throughout 1982 and 1983, as a team with Nelson and in one-on-one bouts against legendary competitors such as Tito Santana and Rocky Johnson. After the singles stint, Kernodle returned to the NWA for memorable tag team runs with Bob Orton Jr. and Ivan Koloff. Kernodle stepped away from the NWA in 1986 but continued to wrestle in a number of independent promotions. Outside the ring, Kernodle served as a deputy sheriff with the Alamance County sheriff’s office in North Carolina.
WWE extends its condolences to Kernodle’s family and friends.