WWE Hall of Famer and Detroit native George 'The Animal' Steele dies

Posted at 11:15 AM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 15:12:07-05

WWE Hall of Famer and metro Detroit native William James Myers, known to fans as George "The Animal" Steele, has died, according to WWE. He was 79 years old.

Steele was a high school teacher, wrestling coach and football coach in Madison Heights before breaking into the sports-entertainment industry. He also received his masters degree from Central Michigan University.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995 by Doink the Clown. The same year, he was also inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame for his role in Madison Heights.

In 2006, he was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Association Coaches Hall of Fame for 25 years of coaching at Madison Heights.

Six years later, the football stadium at Madison High School was named "Jim Myers Stadium" in his honor.

While he was teaching, he moonlighted in sports-entertainment while working Detroit-area promotions. His first appearance in WWE came in 1967 where he was involved in a rivalry with Bruno Sammartino, who was the WWE Champion at the time.

A villain for nearly two decades, Steele was embraced by fans in 1985 after The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff abandoned him during a match.

"Long after his in-ring retirement and WWE Hall of Fame induction, George 'The Animal' Steele's name still evoked terror for one generation of WWE fans and warm smiles for another," according to WWE