Unfortunately, upon writing this column, news came to us on the passing of another wrestling legend.
His name was Hossein Xosro Ali Vaziri, and the wrestling world knew him as the Iron Sheik. He passed away this past Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in his sleep, at his home in Fayetteville, Georgia. The Iron Sheik, a WWE Hall of Famer, was one of wrestling’s most villainous stars. His feuds with Hulk Hogan and Sergeant Slaughter were legendary. He was born on September 9, 1942, in Damghan, Iran. He came from a humble family and grew up idolizing amateur wrestling. He eventually earned a spot on Iran’s Greco Roman Wrestling Team in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. Later into his amateur career, the Iron Sheik would become the National AAU Wrestling Champion in 1971.
After leaving Iran in 1972, the Iron Sheik would be invited to become a professional wrestler by wrestling legend and promoter, Verne Gagne. One of the Iron Sheik’s classmates in wrestling school was the legendary Ric Flair. After training, the Iron Sheik would go on to work for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he started to adopt his heel character and his signature looks of a shaved bald head, a traditional buffo style mustache, and his wrestling boots with the curled-up toes. He would go on to wrestle for many wrestling promotions in and out of the United States. In 1978, he would win his first title, the Canadian Tag Team Championships, with his partner the Texas Outlaw. In 1979, he made his debut for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), which is now known as the WWE, and won the first ever Battle Royal in the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. This opportunity earned him a match against then WWF World Champion Bob Backlund, in which the Iron Sheik was unsuccessful. During his time with the WWF, the Iron Sheik would go on to feud with legends such as Bruno Sammartino and Chief Jay Strongbow. He eventually left the WWF for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where he became the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion, beating Jim Brunzell. From 1981 to 1983, he went on to work for Mid-South Wrestling, including Championship Wrestling from Florida and Georgia Championship Wrestling.
In 1983, the Iron Sheik, returned to the WWF, and beat Bob Backlund for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. He is the only known Iranian Heavyweight Champion in the history of the WWF. He would later go on to lose the title to a debuting Hulk Hogan in Madison Square Garden, which I had the privilege of watching. The Iron Sheik continued to have a great career afterwards, becoming WWF Tag Team Champions with Nikolai Volkoff. He made several returns to other wrestling territories and was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.
The Iron Sheik was an incredible performer. He embraced the bad guy gimmick and made you hate him, not only for the character he portrayed, but also for what he stood for in the ring. He was the textbook antagonist. His mere presence would set off a chant of boos, and a chant of U-S-A! The Iron Sheik is survived by his wife, two daughters and grandchildren.
Rest In Peace Sheiky Baby and thank you for the memories!
If you have any questions or comments, please send them to email@example.com and have a great weekend!