The Iron Sheik, Villainous Hall of Fame Wrestler, Is Dead

Hall of Famer Iron Seek, who became a villain star after teaming up with a wrestler claiming to represent the Soviet Union in the 1980s against Hulk Hogan, died early Wednesday in his sleep at his home in Fayetteville. Ga. He was either he was 81 (according to his passport) or he was 80 (according to himself).

Managers Paige and Gian Magen confirmed the death but said they did not know the cause.

Foreign-style heels are a time-honored tradition in professional wrestling, and Iron Seek, whose legal name is Khosrow Waziri, has become one of the most famous of them all.

The chief drew loosely on Iranian traditions to create caricatures of Middle Eastern villains. He wore a thick mustache, curled-toe boots, and a kaffiyeh, a Middle Eastern scarf, which is not commonly worn in Iran.

Sheikh’s notoriety reached its peak, and shortly after the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, he often stepped into the ring, waving an Iranian flag bearing the face of Iran’s Supreme Leader at the time, Ruhollah Khomeini. I played against a typical American wrestler. .

Shake’s signature move was the Camel Clutch, in which he sat on his opponent’s back and locked his fingers under the wrestler’s chin to pull his body up. Unfortunately, the opponent’s spine appeared to be curved as if he had drawn a bow.

In 1983 Shayk defeated Bob Backlund to win the World Wrestling Federation Championship. However, his time at the title was short-lived.

About a month later, on January 23, 1984, Shayk defended title against Hulk Hoganthen a relatively new face of the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE), before a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.

The match looked to be going in Sheik’s favor, but Sheik locked Hogan in a camel clutch. But Hogan got up with the Sheik on his back and slammed it into the corner pylon.

Sheik collapsed onto the mat. Hogan jumped off the ropes and landed a leg drop on Sheikh, pinning him. This was Hogan’s first of six WWE Championships and also the beginning of Hulkamania.

Decades later, the defeat still haunted him, said the very personable chief. In an interview with WWE in 2014.

“Hulk Hogan, all he had was luck,” he said. “I lost my belt and had a terrible night.”

Sergeant Slaughter was Sheikh’s regular opponent until he lost a major match to him at Madison Square Garden in late 1984.

The following year, Sheikh teamed with alleged Soviet wrestler Nikolai Volkov (actually from Croatia) to win the World Tag Team Championship at the inaugural WrestleMania.

Sheikh also bolstered his character’s anti-American rhetoric. He would often snatch the microphone from the announcer and shout, “Iran first!” Russia No.1! ”

Then he glared at the audience and shouted “USA!” And he spit on the ground.

Audience reaction was so vicious that despite his ferocity in the ring, Sheikh sometimes worried for his own safety.

Wrestling historian and author Keith Elliott Greenberg said in a phone interview that he thinks fans sometimes believe too much in Sheikh’s character.

“As a matter of fact, he was a very loyal American and thanked the United States for the opportunity,” Greenberg said.

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Damgan, a town about 320 kilometers east of Tehran. His passport listed his date of birth as March 15, 1942, but he was unsure of its accuracy and celebrated his birthday on September 9. . His parents, Gasem Vasily and Mariam Vaziri, owned a farm growing pistachios, grapes and other crops. produce.

When he was a boy, his family moved to Tehran and opened a wrestling gym where top Iranian wrestlers train. He grew up immersed in sports.

Vaziri became a talented wrestler and his fame enabled him to secure a job as a bodyguard for the Iranian Shah’s family. But after Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler Golamreza Takti died in 1968 under mysterious circumstances, presumably to the Shah’s displeasure, Waziri left Iran for the United States, settling in Minneapolis.

He wrestled for amateur clubs in Minnesota, won the Amateur Athletic Union Greco-Roman Wrestling Tournament in 1971, and was an assistant coach for the United States Olympic team in 1972 and 1976 before becoming a full-time wrestler. turned pro wrestler.

Vaziri trained under American Wrestling Association promoter Verne Gagne. Greenberg said the idea for Iron Seek came from Verne’s wife Mary Gagne, but Vaziri has experimented with different versions of the character over the years.

In 1975 he married Caryl Peterson, with whom he survived. He also has two surviving daughters, Nicole and Tanya. younger sister. and five grandchildren.

In the 1980s, Sheikh began using drugs and drinking heavily. In 1987, he and babyface Hacksaw Jim Duggan, known as The Good Wrestler, were arrested in Turnpike, New Jersey after police found cocaine and marijuana in their car.

Sheik entered the match as an ally of Sgt. He managed Slaughter in 1991 and another wrestler, Sultan, in 1997. However, his professional career nearly died as drug use accelerated in the 1990s. He struggled with substance abuse for a long time, but according to an article contributed by Greenberg: bleacher report In 2013, most recently, I was able to give up drugs, with the exception of the occasional beer.

In 2003, his daughter Marissa, 27, was murdered by her boyfriend Charles Reynolds. Greenberg said Basili considered attacking Reynolds in court with a razor blade, but said his family prevented him from doing so. Reynolds was sentenced to life in prison. He passed away in 2016.

In 2005, Iron Seek was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Starting in the early 2000s, Sheikh brought a less restrained version of his character to Howard Stern’s radio show to rant about various wrestlers. He threatened to sodomize rivals like Hogan and used homophobic slurs when portraying the ultimate warrior.

In recent years, Sheikh’s denouncing words have appeared on social media. His manager often posted profane messages in all caps on his Twitter account, which has about 650,000 followers. More recent ones simply had the word “Hogan” in front of them.

However, Shayk allowed things to calm down when he met Hogan outside the ring in 2014.

“No one speaks ill of the past,” he says. “I get along with him.”

Alain Delaquérière contributed to the research.

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