Another iconic pro wrestling figure is no longer with us as The Iron Sheik (Khosrow Vaziri) has passed away at the age of 81.
The image and character of “The Iron Sheik” really became ingrained in pro wrestling fans’ minds in the 80s when Sheik became WWF Champion and was one of the most visibly identifiable wrestlers in the Rock N Wrestling era, which makes it almost hard to imagine that Khosrow Vaziri was not only an Olympic wrestler but also coached two U.S. Olympic squads!
While it may seem that the Sheik flew right over from Iran and stepped into U.S. pro wrestling rings, he actually trained at Verne Gagne’s infamous pro wrestling camp alongside Ric Flair in 1972. Sheik went on to compete around the country in numerous territories as “Hussein Arab,” even competing in the WWF using that name long before the Rock N Wrestling era.
The Iron Sheik defeating Bob Backlund and ending Backlund’s near-six-year reign was a moment in history, but Sheik being the right guy to transition the title to Hulk Hogan may have been even more meaningful. While his WWF Title reign was short, Sheik was immediately cast as one of Hogan’s mortal enemies during the time that the WWF went national and took over the wrestling business.
The Iron Sheik remained a prominent figure in wrestling no matter where he went, with numerous returns to WWE over the years as well as appearing in almost every other major promotion in the 80s. In his later years, Sheik’s comedy and over-the-top persona spilled over into social media and made him a recognizable figure all over again to a new generation. One thing is almost certain, we can’t imagine there ever being another Iron Sheik.
The below documentary is a truly amazing look at the life and times of the legendary Iron Sheik: