The Iron Sheik: WWE star and Hulk Hogan rival dies age 81 - what did Twitter statement say?

The likes of Triple H and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson have shared tributes online for the WWE wrestler
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WWE star The Iron Sheik, known for his stage rivalry with Hulk Hogan, has died at the age of 81. In a statement following the news of his death, WWE said that the wrestler, whose real name was Khosrow Vaziri, had a “larger-than-life personality and a natural gift for inciting crowds across the globe, [which] helped him become one of the greatest villains in sports-entertainment history”. 

The Iron Sheik made history as the only Iranian champion in the WWE world, claiming the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in 1983 when he defeated Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Who was the Iron Sheik?

Prior to joining the WWE, the Iron Sheik made a name for himself as an amateur wrestler in Iran. He competed for a space on Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team for the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico City - he then moved to America in the 1970s, going on to become the assistant coach of two U.S Olympic squads, later becoming the assistant coach to the USA team for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. 

He won the gold medal in 1971 Amateur Athletic Union Greco-Roman wrestling championships, and was invited to become a professional wrestler in 1972 by Verne Gagne, and after training and wrestling for Gagne’s American Wrestling Association, he caught the attention of the WWE in 1979 after he made his debut that year and won the first ever Battle Royal in Madison Square Garden.

Iron Sheik poses backstage at Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2013 at Philips Arena on December 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Ben Rose/Getty Images for Clear Channel)Iron Sheik poses backstage at Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2013 at Philips Arena on December 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Ben Rose/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
Iron Sheik poses backstage at Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2013 at Philips Arena on December 11, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Rose/Getty Images for Clear Channel)

While the Iron Sheik enjoyed feuds with a number of his fellow wrestlers, including Chief Jay Strongbow, Bruno Sammartino, Jim Brunzell, Sgt. Slaughter and Blackjack Mulligan, he was best known for his rivalry with Hulk Hogan. 

He left the WWE in 1988, but reappeared in 1991, with his last in-ring appearance at WrestleMania 17, when the Iron Sheik returned for one night only. 

When did he die?

The Iron Sheik passed away on Wednesday (7 June), with news of his death confirmed via a statement shared on his Twitter page. 

“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 said.

“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.”

The tweet added that beyond his wrestling persona, he was a “devoted family man” who “cherished the love and support of his wife of 47 years Caryl”. He also had three children, Tanya, Nikki, Marissa, and five grandchildren who he shared his “wisdom, humour, and zest for life” with.

Tributes for the Iron Sheik

Fans, fellow wrestlers and other famous faces have paid tribute to the WWE star, including 14-time world wrestling champion and chief content officer of WWE Triple H.

He described Vaziri as a “legend”, adding: “An all-time great performer and WWE Hall of Famer who brought his character to life and transcended our business.

“My condolences to The Iron Sheik’s family, friends and fans.”

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