Sad news out of the world of professional wrestling today, as the iconic wrestling heel known as The Iron Sheik has passed away.
Deadline is reporting that Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri aka The Iron Sheik, passed away at the age of 81 He is survived by three daughters and a son. Wrestling fans will remember the Iranian wrestler for his famous battles with the all-American hero, Hulk Hogan, during the WWF’s heyday in the 1980s. Though he was on the losing end more times than not, fans appreciated the villainous character he portrayed during his stint in professional wrestling and will forever be grateful for him making our childhoods that much more entertaining.
Initially performing under the ring name The Great Hossein Arab, he switched to The Iron Sheik after joining the then-WWF in the early 1980s (it was renamed as WWE in 2022). Donning traditional, if stereotypical, Arab garb, his role as wrestling’s premier villain coincided, and no doubt benefited, from the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-81.
By 1983, The Iron Sheik, with his trademark “Camel Clutch” maneuver, had become the only Iranian champion in WWE history, taking the belt that year when he defeated Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden. The victory, according to the WWE, was a controversial one, as Backlund’s manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel after Backlund refused to submit.
The Iron Sheik held the title for just under a month before losing the championship to then-named Hollywood Hogan on January 23, 1984, in what is remembered as one of the most famous matches of all time. Although The Iron Sheik lost, he was involved in the match that launched the career of a soon-to-be-renamed Hulk Hogan and moving professional wrestling firmly into popular mainstream culture.
Those were the times. Sure the wrestling matches were slow as heck and had more body slams than off the top rope maneuvers, but still, they rocked.
Check out the family’s statement about the passing of The Iron Sheik below, and let us know your favorite Iron Sheik moment in the comments section.
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