The world of professional wrestling mourns the loss of one of its most iconic figures as news of The Iron Sheik’s death resonates around the world. Born Hossein, Khosrow Ali Vaziri, on March 15, 1943, in Tehran, Iran, The Iron Sheik etched his name into the history books through his iconic personality and his intense in-ring style. With a career spanning decades, The Iron Sheik left an indelible mark on the industry and became a beloved figure for millions of fans around the world.
On June 7, 2023, The Iron Sheik tragically passed away at the age of 81. His death marked the end of an era and left a void in the hearts of wrestling fans around the world. Tributes poured in from fellow wrestlers, industry experts and fans, all expressing their admiration for the man who had entertained and inspired them for decades. Iron Sheik’s contributions to professional wrestling will forever be remembered and his legacy as a true legend of the industry remains intact.
In this article we reflect on his illustrious career, highlight his notable achievements and remember the legacy he leaves behind.
Iron Sheik arrived on the professional wrestling scene in the 1970s, capturing fans’ attention with his towering stature and heel-heel persona. Known for his distinctive mustache and his penchant for taunting his opponents, he quickly established himself as a formidable force in the ring. However, his Iranian heritage became a defining aspect of his character.
During the height of the Cold War, The Iron Sheik took on the role of an anti-American villain, taking advantage of political tensions between the United States and Iran. His personality embodied the stereotype of the foreign antagonist, using his Persian origin to fuel the animosity between him and his opponents. The Iron Sheik’s ability to generate intense heat among the crowd made him the perfect foil for the patriotic American heroes that populated the wrestling landscape.
Iron Sheik left WWE in 1988 and briefly appeared in WCW in 1989. He later returned to WWE in 1991 along with his former rival, Sgt. Slaughter, adopting the personality of Colonel Mustafa. After this period, he resurfaced again in 1997 as manager of The Sultan. Iron Sheik’s last appearance occurred at WrestleMania X-Seven, where he returned for one night only, winning a Gimmick Battle Royal and rekindling his rivalry with Slaughter.
The Iron Sheikh was a master of the suplex, although he was best known for his crippling Camel Clutch maneuver. After losing the WWE Championship, The Iron Sheik entered into a historic rivalry with Sgt. Sacrifice. The two famously faced off in a Boot Camp Match at Madison Square Garden, where Slaughter emerged victorious.
On December 26, 1983, the day after Christmas, The Iron Sheik made history by defeating Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden to capture the WWE Championship. He was the first and only Iranian to do so. The victory was surrounded by controversy, as Backlund coach Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel after Backlund refused to submit. The Iron Sheik held the title for just under a month before losing it in one of the most famous matches of all time. On January 23, 1984, he faced Hollywood Hogan and, although he lost, the match launched Hogan’s career and put professional wrestling in the spotlight.
The Iron Sheik subsequently moved to the tag team division, teaming with Nikolai Volkoff. The foreign pair achieved success by winning the World Tag Team Championship in 1985 at WrestleMania, defeating US Express.
WWE is saddened to learn that Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known around the world as WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik, passed away on Wednesday, June 7 at the age of 81.
WWE extends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of The Iron Sheik.https://t.co/FGE0yKeuWA pic.twitter.com/yVLpLObxFA
June 7, 2023
Iron Sheik was a larger-than-life figure who captivated audiences with his charismatic personality, intense fighting style, and unique character. The Iron Sheik’s impact extended far beyond the ring, as he became a mentor and ambassador for the sport, passing on his knowledge and passion to future generations. Although his death leaves a void in the wrestling world, his legacy will continue to inspire and entertain fans for years to come. The Iron Sheik will forever be remembered as one of the greatest and most influential performers in the history of professional wrestling.
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