Ole Anderson, 81, member of wrestling's Four Horsemen, dies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Ole Anderson, a professional wrestler whose tough, no-nonsense style led him to become a founding member of the famed collective known as The Four Horsemen, has died, the WWE said. He was 81.

Anderson's death was disclosed Monday by the wrestling organization's website, which described Anderson's approach in the ring as hard-nosed and his demeanor as gruff.

"Tough as nails," said Greg Price, a former wrestling photographer and promoter who also has organized fan conventions. "His temperament and straightforwardness earned him a lot of respect from a lot of the guys."

Anderson gained that reputation early in his career as a tag-team champ, paired with partners billed as relatives, including Arn Anderson. They gained notoriety as the tag team known as The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, the WWE said.

The pair later teamed up in the 1980s with Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard to form The Four Horsemen, led by manager J.J. Dillon in the NWA wrestling organization. They battled some of wrestling's biggest names, including Dusty Rhodes, the Road Warriors, Magnum T.A. and Sting, who later became a member of the foursome.

"The group set a standard of style, attitude and success that has inspired every stable that followed," the WWE said about The Four Horsemen.

Anderson was born Alan Robert Rogowski and he served in the U.S. Army, according to an obituary posted on the website of Carter Funeral Home in Winder, Georgia.

Ole Anderson began wrestling in the late 1960s and he made his way to the Carolinas, where he joined with partner Gene Anderson and won the NWA tag team championship, Price said. While they were not related, Ole Anderson assumed the persona of Gene Anderson's brother.

"You had to be good, you had to be compelling, and tell compelling stories, to get those folks to keep coming back week after week," Price said. "Ole and Gene, in that respect, were as good as they come."

Meanwhile, Ole Anderson also was successful booking wrestling events in Florida and the Carolinas when shows were held in the same cities and towns, week after week, and wrestlers were getting more exposure on television in the days before WrestleMania, Price said.

"He had such a brilliant mind for the business, being able to come up with ideas that would sell tickets every week," said Price, who runs the NWALegends.com website. "He didn't have too many equals in wrestling."

Ole Anderson then formed a tag team with Arn Anderson, before helping found The Four Horsemen, who often appeared together in television interviews and promotions.

"When you have those four guys working your card, you know you can put those guys with anybody and have a great show that night," Price said. "They were so good, that you did one or the other - you either loved them or you hated them."