Pop Culture

The Iron Sheik, WWE wrestling legend, dead at 81

The Iron Sheik, an American-Iranian professional wrestling legend, has died. He was 81.

A representative for The Iron Sheik, whose real name is Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, shared the news to the wrestler’s Twitter account on Wednesday.

“Today, we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend, a force of nature, and an iconic figure who left an incredible mark on the world of professional wrestling,” the statement reads.

“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.”

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The cause of Vaziri’s death is not yet known publicly.

The statement said beyond Vaziri’s wrestling accomplishments, he was also a “devoted family man.”

He leaves behind his wife of 47 years, Caryl, and his children, Tanya, Nikki, Marissa and son-in-law Eddie. Vaziri also had five grandchildren, Marissa, Zahra, Alexis, Chloe and Niko, who “brought immeasurable joy into his life,” according to the statement.

Vaziri was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1942 where he trained as a wrestler until moving to the U.S. in the 1960s. He was an Olympic wrestler for Iran before making his World Wrestling Federation (WWF) debut in 1979. Throughout his career, he faced the likes of Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan.

He won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1983. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Infamously, Vaziri and fellow wrestler “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan were both arrested for possession of cocaine at a New Jersey traffic stop in 1987. The arrest — and the TV feud between Vaziri and Duggan — caused scandal in the wrestling world. Vaziri ended up serving one year of probation.

Tributes to the iconic 1980s wrestling “villain” are already pouring in online.

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This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

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