Wrestler George 'The Animal' Steele dies at 79

Wrestling legend William James Myers, best known by his stage name, George "The Animal" Steele, has died, the WWE said Friday in a statement. He was 79.

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Steele battled health problems in the years before his death.

ESS Promotions agent Eric Simm on Thursday asked for the public's prayers for Steele and on Friday said the WWE Hall of Famer had been moved to hospice care.

"I am glad I got a chance to talk to him about three weeks ago," he wrote on Thursday. "I had the chance to say goodbye. … He was always one of my favorites to work with. … Thank you for being a mentor for me."

The last photo i took with him.I love reading everyones memories of him.  My special memory of him was our car rides everytime he was in town for me.  I got such an education.  I consider myself lucky.

Posted by Eric Simms on Friday, February 17, 2017

Steele, a Michigan native, launched his professional wrestling career in 1967 in Detroit while working as a coach and physical education teacher in Madison Heights. He was known for his wild and unpredictable attitude, his hairy bare chest and his bright green tongue.

Steele played a reviled villain for much of his wrestling career, although that changed in 1985 when Steele was abandoned by The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff during a match and taken under the wing of Capt. Lou Albano.

"His transformation was remarkable, as one of the most hated men in the sport became one of its most lovable figures," WWE officials said in a statement.

He was inducted in 1995 into the WWE Hall of Fame and 10 years later was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"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," WWE officials said.

Steele coached football in Madison Heights for 25 years. He was inducted in 2006 into the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Friends and fans took to social media to mourn the entertainer:

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