New Zealand's wrestling and entertainment world is mourning the passing of Robert Bruce, former professional wrestler and agent to professional actors for the past 30 years.

The former On The Mat wrestler and presenter died suddenly and unexpectedly in Auckland this morning after a short illness. He was 65-years-old.

Born in Scotland, Mr Bruce started wrestling in London in 1967, according to his Kiwi Pro Wrestling website profile.

He toured most of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji and wrestled all the top wrestlers in those countries.

"My best memories of my era were holding the Commonwealth Heavyweight Title off and on for five years and wrestling for the world title. My worst memory was having to quit whilst 'on top' due to injuries to my back and elbows," the website quoted.

M r Bruce came to New Zealand in 1972 and gained national attention through his wrestling exploits.

After quitting wrestling he made a living as a bodyguard to film and rock stars.

He was a fight and stunt coordinator for film and television and worked on 39 films, 73 television series and 21 theatre shows as well as live shows and corporate events.

The Robert Bruce Agency, established in 1978, represented such actors and performers as Temuera Morrison, Cliff Curtis, Frankie Stevens and Jackie Clarke.

Mr Bruce leaves behind his long time partner Gabriella who has asked for privacy during this time.

Family friend Jane Hunter said Mr Bruce was "ageless".

"He was a very popular character and a very, very likeable man. Everyone is extremely shocked."

He was an animal lover and was a vice-patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, she said.