Hulk Hogan Nemesis ‘The Iron Sheik’ Dies at 81
Bobby Bank / Contributor via Getty Images

Pro wrestling legend ”The Iron Sheik,” whose rivalry with fellow legend Hulk Hogan made him one of the most famous personalities in the sport, has died at the age of 81.

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri became the only Iranian champion in WWE history after winning the WWF Heavyweight Championship in 1983, which he held for barely a month until Hulk Hogan grabbed it from him, prompting a years-long rivalry.

As recently as Monday, The Iron Sheik, whose Twitter feed was laced with profanity, tweeted, “F*** Hogan.”

His last tweet read, “F*** the wildfires.”


The Sheik’s death was announced on his Twitter feed, which stated:

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. Beyond the wrestling persona that the world knew so well, The Iron Sheik was a devoted family man. He cherished the love and support of his wife of 47 years Caryl, who stood by his side through thick and thin, offering unwavering encouragement throughout his life.

Their bond was an anchor, providing him with the strength to face the challenges that life presented. To his children, Tanya, Nikki, Marissa and son in law Eddie, he was not just a wrestling icon. He was a loving and dedicated father. He instilled in them the values of perseverance, determination, and the importance of following their dreams.

Vaziri was born on March 15, 1943, in Iran. As a boy, he idolized Iranian Olympic Gold-Medalist wrestler Gholamreza Takhti, who later worked as a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran. He tried for a spot on Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team for the 1968 Olympics, then immigrated to the U.S., where he became the assistant coach of two U.S. Olympic squads in the 1970s. He served as the assistant coach to the USA team for the 1972 Olympic Games.

That same year, Vaziri was invited to become a professional wrestler by promoter Verne Gagne. He made his debut with the WWF in 1979.

In his initial match with Hogan, Vaziri locked Hogan in the “Camel Clutch,” but Hogan rose to his feet with Vaziri still on his back and rammed him backward into the turnbuckles, then used a leg drop for the pin and the championship, a moment that triggered “Hulkamania.”

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