During halftime of the Hernando Leopards’ football game versus South Sumter, the high school paid tribute to Windham Rotunda. Passing earlier this year, Rotunda was a Hernando alum and former member of the school’s football and wrestling teams. A dominating offensive lineman on the field, it was his accomplishments and accolades in wrestling that became his signature.
Sporting number 69 during his time with the Leopards, he went on to play football for the College at the Sequoias. He would earn JUCO All-American honors at the offensive guard position before transferring to Troy University. After playing for the Trojans for two years, the siren song of wrestling called him back to the ring.
Besides winning the Florida State Wrestling Championship in 2005 while at Hernando, the athlete followed in an illustrious lineage of wrestlers dating back to his grandfather, Robert Deroy Windham. Known in the ring as “Blackjack Mulligan,” Robert was inducted into the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Hall of Fame. Rotunda’s father, Mike Rotunda, had many pseudonyms, such as “IRS” (Irwin R. Schyster) during his time with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and WCW, and was a Hall of Famer in the WWE as well.
The family’s involvement with the sport does not stop there. Rotunda’s uncle, Barry Windham, and brother, Taylor Rotunda were accomplished in the ring. Barry, yet another WWE Hall of Famer, was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion while Taylor, also known as “Bo Dallas,” is a three-time FCW Heavyweight Champion.
In 2009, Windham Rotunda signed with the WWE before finding his role under the alias Bray Wyatt in 2012. His persona saw him portray a heel in the ring, the villainous leader of the cult-like Wyatt family. He played a variety of other roles during his time wrestling including “The Fiend,” which saw the star reinvent himself as a masked character that sported the visage of a demonic clown.
As Wyatt, Rotunda racked up the accolades: a WWE Championship, two Universal Championships, and two Tag Team Title runs. According to a press release by Leopard Quarterback Club’s Monte Patterson, a favorite memory of Rotunda’s was when he had the opportunity to team up with his brother to win the FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) Florida Tag Team Championship. With the collection of honors he accrued throughout his career, Rotunda appears poised to one day join his father, uncle, and grandfather in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Patterson stated, “Although Windham looked like a bear in the ring, he was a teddy bear at home and in the Brooksville community.”
“Everyone seems to have a story where he was nice to them and would ask them how they were doing, always bringing smiles. He would watch his sister Mika and her friends and drive them around in his Green Machine. Personally, he gave me one of the best compliments of my life as we sat together watching Taylor on the football field against Central,” remarked Patterson.
In addition to his professional career, Rotunda would also coach Little League in his spare time. He was a caring father to three daughters and a son, and is survived by his fiancée Joseann, father Mike, mother Stephanie, brother Taylor, and sister Mika. The wrestling phenom represented the community of Brooksville with aplomb and was a Hernando legend. “He’s got the whole world in his hands, can sit in his rocking chair and rock it forever,” stated Patterson. “Every time we see a firefly, we will think of Windham. You are forever a Leopard. May God bless the Rotunda family.”