“The Iron Sheik,” a wrestling legend who was one of Hulk Hogan’s greatest rivals during the 1980s, has died at 81 years old.
The WWE veteran’s real name was Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri.
A statement posted to his Twitter account said: “Today, we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend, a force of nature, and an iconic figure who left an incredible mark on the world of professional wrestling.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of The Iron Sheik, but we also take solace in knowing that he departed this world peacefully, leaving behind a legacy that will endure for generations to come.
“Throughout his career, The Iron Sheik became a cultural phenomenon, transcending the real of professional wrestling to become a pop culture icon.
“His memorable catchphrases and unforgettable moments are etched into the memories of fans worldwide.
“He left an indelible mark on the industry, and his influence can still be felt in the world of wrestling today.”
RESPECT THE LEGEND FOREVER 😢 pic.twitter.com/Cr6CC9pXSO
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) June 7, 2023
The Iron Sheik has passed away at 81.
RIP Legend 🕊️
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) June 7, 2023
REMEMBERING THE IRON SHEIK
The wrestling world lost a true legend today, with the passing of Khosrow Vaziri, better known to fans across the globe as The Iron Sheik. Although I never got to know The Sheik well, I was fortunate to have been on hand for two of his most iconic… pic.twitter.com/mVMqTaeXtE
— Mick Foley (@foleyispod) June 7, 2023
According to The Bleacher Report:
The Iron Sheik starred in WWE throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and WWE Tag Team Championship one time each before getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
Born in Iran in 1942 as Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, Sheik trained as an amateur wrestler and attempted to qualify for the 1968 Olympics before moving to the United States and serving as an assistant coach for the United States wrestling team at the 1972 Olympics.
Sheik broke into the world of professional wrestling in 1972 in the Minnesota-based AWA, and he received his first opportunity with WWE in 1979.
In 1983, Sheik joined WWE on a full-time basis and beat Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship on Dec. 26, 1983, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, ending Backlund’s reign of 2,135 days, which is the second-longest in the history of the WWE title.
Just 28 days later, Sheik dropped the WWE Championship to Hulk Hogan, marking the beginning of Hulkamania and one of the most success eras in WWE’s history.