WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik Dies at 81

Former professional wrestler Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known as The Iron Sheik, has died, his official Twitter account announced on Wednesday. He was 81.

“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,” read the Twitter statement.

Born in Iran on March 15, 1942, The Iron Sheik later immigrated from a small Iranian village to the United States. He rose to wrestling fame in the U.S. in the late 1970s, working for various promotions including Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-South Wrestling, and Georgia Championship Wrestling.

He briefly wrestled for the then World Wrestling Federation in 1979 and 1980, but found his greatest success when he returned to the company in 1983, when he defeated Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship. He lost the belt not long after to Hulk Hogan, which is credited by many as the beginning of the Hulkamania phenomenon. He also notably formed a tag team with Nikolai Volkoff and feuded with Sgt. Slaughter during that run with WWF. He made various returns to the company over the years, including teaming with Slaughter, who was now portrayed as an Iraqi sympathizer, during the height of the Gulf War.

The Iron Sheik was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

In addition to fame within the wrestling world, The Iron Sheik also acted in several film and TV shows, including “Operation Belvis Bash” alongside Corey Feldman and Daniel Baldwin, as well as “Robot Chicken” and “Kenny vs. Spenny.” The Iron Sheik also developed a social media presence, becoming a prominent Twitter personality.

“The Iron Sheik was a beloved figure who was known for his humor, his larger-than-life personality, and his ability to connect with fans on a personal level,” the Twitter announcement continued. “As we bid farewell to The Iron Sheik, let us remember him not only for his athletic prowess but also for the joy and inspiration he brought into our loves. His legacy will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of fans, as well as in the annals of wrestling history.”

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Caryl; his three children, Tanya, Nikki and Marissa; his son-in-law Eddie; and his grandchildren, Marissa, Xahra, Alexis, Chloe and Niko.

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