Veteran wrestler “The Shooter” Tony Jones, who many saw in the documentary Beyond the Mat, has died.

Details are still coming in on the cause of death, apparently on April 11, 2024. Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Jones suffered a heart attack while watching a movie at home. He was 53. His hometown promotion confirmed the news.

Born to an African-American father, Anderson Jones, who served in the US military, and an Asian mother, Sadako Jones, Jones grew up in the greater San Francisco area. he attended Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, where he was a competitive amateur wrestler, played football and competed in track and field. In college, at San Francisco State University, he also was on the wrestling team, coached by Lars Jensen, and graduated with a broadcasting degree in 1995.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Jones kept on with wrestling, learning the professional side, at Roland Alexander‘s All Pro Wrestling school. He trained for a year, and debuted in January 1997.

Shooter Tony Jones and Mike Modest

Shooter Tony Jones and Mike Modest

Around the same time, filmmaker Barry Blaustein was pursuing a documentary about pro wrestling, and arrived at the APW facility. Blaustein turned the cameras on to Tony Jones and Michael Modest, following along as the two had a WWF tryout match in September 1998. The result is in the Beyond the mat documentary.

In a 2001 interview with Live Audio Wrestling, Jones talked about the opportunity:

Barry Blaustein came to APW looking for a couple of Independent guys that were prospects on the Indy scene trying to make it to the next level — trying to go to the WWF or WCW. I guess he had arranged a tryout for two guys for his movie and he just wasn’t sure whom he wanted to use and he was communicating for Jim Cornette and Jim Ross at the time. He went to different schools across the country and he came across APW and he found an interesting in Mike Modest and myself for two different aspects. He looked at Mike and said “Here’s a guy that has been busting his tail for eight or nine years and still has not made it and has given up everything in the world to try and make it and it’s just not paying off for him at this point and why does he stick with it? That was the story for Mike Modest. My story was that here’s a guy with a college education, he’s got a $40,000 a year job, well educated, he’s only been in the business about a year, why is he sticking with it? He found an interest in both of us for different reasons and wanted to know what our reasons were for being in pro wrestling and then giving our shot to show how difficult it is to make it to the big dance and all the things you have to do to get there. As far as I know, I think it was preconceived that he wanted to give two guys a serious look and a real shot. When we got there, Jim Ross took us aside and told us that this is indeed a tryout and we were to go out there and just do out best and don’t worry about the crowd because the crowd’s here to see Steve Austin and The Rock — not Mike Modest and Tony Jones.

On his archived website,, Jones summed up some of the next steps:

After about a year of continuing work in the indys, I was asked to attend the WWF ( Dojo training facility with Dr. Tom Prichard in November of 1999. In February of 2000, Terry Taylor gave me a tryout with WCW in front of Kevin Sullivan, Mike Graham, and Ric Flair. Taylor then asked me to attend the WCW Power Plant, which I did in May 2000. Here I am with my childhood idol, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

During that same period, I wrestled for two tours in Japan. In April and May of 2000, I worked for the BattlArts ( promotion in Japan.

I recently have worked shows for the Urban Wrestling Alliance (UWA), a new league in the process of receiving a national TV syndication deal. I have worked under the name, H.T.K., which stood for Hard to Kill, but later changed to, Honor, Truth, & Knowledge.

While Jones did travel to a few places to wrestle, including the Chicago area, he is most associated with California-based promotions like APW, XPW and more. He was first ranked in Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s Top 500 in 1998 (#462) and rose as high as #222 in 2003.

Frankie Kazarian, Shooter Tony Jones and Christopher Daniels in 2019.

Frankie Kazarian, Shooter Tony Jones and Christopher Daniels in 2019.

In a tweet of condolence, Frankie Kazarian wrote that “Tony was a mainstay in the Cali Bay Area for years. I had many wars with him in NorCal and SoCal, and a lot of good times. Always a great, humble and driven man. Very sad news. Godspeed sir.”

Mike Bucci, who was Nova and Simon Dean, wrote that Jones “was a great guy. He was a true APW original and one of the great guys in this sport. I did a show for APW once and he could not have been cooler. I got to know Tony a bit during my time wrestling in California with Rick Bassman and UPW. I know that his heart was broken after his baby girl passed away years ago. He’s with her again and I know he’s smiling. Tony deserved much more than what he got out of the wrestling industry. I guarantee you everyone that knew him feels the same way. He was one of the good guys. Damn…. I hate this. RIP Tony. Love you my brother…”

On the personal front, Jones’ daughter, Selina, died in 2000. On January 19, 2024, Jones wrote on Facebook: “My baby girl would have been 24 years old today. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think and love her to my fullest. Selina started to like pro wrestling (i wonder why lol) so I’m sharing one of my past birthday wishes to my princess. Keep looking over me and I promise to always represent you. Happy heavenly birthday princess. Daddy loves you so much baby girl.”

Jones retired in June 2009, though had another match as recently as 2017.

Carl Weathers and Shooter Tony Jones

Carl Weathers and Shooter Tony Jones

On his Facebook page, Jones did note one recent high point in his life, posting on November 25, 2023, a photo of he and actor Carl Weathers.

I waited my whole life for this moment! I met Carl Weathers today. Was in total awe of him. Idolized him in the Rocky films as Apollo Creed. My father thought he was pretty awesome back in the day too. I told Carl, “I idolized you growing up!” Carl said, “Thank you! are you a fighter?” That was the best thing he could have said to me. I said, “No I’m a pro wrestler.” Carl stood back and said “whoa, that’s real, that’s real stuff!” Can you all tell from my smile that this was one of the happiest days in my life lol

Funeral details are not known at this time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A cause of death was added post-publication.