Legendary wrestler The Iron Sheik has died at the age of 81. He was a former heavyweight champ and WWE Hall of Famer.

“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. 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,” a statement on his social media page read.

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Who was The Iron Sheik?

Sheik was born in Iran in 1976. His real name was Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri. During his youth, he idolized Iranian Olympic Gold-Medalist wrestler Gholamreza Takhti. He also worked as a bodyguard for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family for several years.

He is an Iranian professional wrestler and actor. He was the only Iranian champion in WWE history, having won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1983.

Before moving to the US, he competed for a spot on Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. After his move, he became the assistant coach of two U.S. Olympic squads in the 1970s. He also served as assistant coach to the USA team for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

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He was among the first rivals of Hulk Hogan during the 1980s WWF wrestling boom. It was Hogan who ultimately defeated Sheik for the belt, giving rise to Hulkamania. Sheik later formed a tag team with Nikolai Volkoff, which won the WWF Tag Team Championship at the inaugural WrestleMania event.

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

The Iron Sheik made his film debut in The Tale of the 3 Mohammads in 2005. He then appeared in Operation Belvis Bash in 2011 alongside Daniel Baldwin and Corey Feldman.

His popularity boomed even further when started appearing on Kidd Chris, The Howard Stern Show due to his shoot interviews. He used vulgar language and openly voiced his intense dislike for some of his fellow professional wrestlers, particularly Hulk Hogan and Brian Blair in the interviews.

He married American Caryl J. Peterson on March 21, 1976. They had three daughters. Their eldest daughter, Marissa was murdered by her boyfriend Charles Warren Reynolds in May 2003 at the age of 26.