By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) - World Wrestling Entertainment Inc said on Friday it has terminated its relationship with Hulk Hogan after a U.S. tabloid published a transcript of a tirade in which the legendary wrestler used racially charged language.
An attorney for the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Bollea, disputed reports that Hogan had been fired and said he had resigned late Thursday from WWE after learning that the National Enquirer was about to publish the transcript.
Most references to Hogan have been removed from the WWE website.
“WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide”, the WWE said in a statement.
The National Enquirer said the transcript was made from a sex tape which is the subject of a 2012 lawsuit Hogan filed in Florida seeking $100 million from the gossip website Gawker which had posted excerpts of the sex tape.
Hogan used the word “nigger” several times as he complained in a conversation in the transcript that his daughter was having a relationship with a black man, according to the National Enquirer published transcript.
Hogan’s lawyer David Houston said on Friday someone had leaked the sex tape which was sealed under court order.
In announcing his departure from WWE, Hogan apologized for the language he used and said he was disappointed with himself.
“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” Hogan said.
Houston said in a telephone interview that Hogan accepted responsibility and resigned on Thursday evening.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Clive McKeef