Who was WWE Legend The Iron Sheik? Reflecting on the Life and Career of the Wrestling Icon
The world of professional wrestling mourns the loss of one of its most iconic figures as news of the passing of The Iron Sheik reverberates across the globe. Born Hossein, Khosrow Ali Vaziri, on March 15, 1943, in Tehran, Iran, The Iron Sheik etched his name in the history books through his iconic persona and intense in-ring style. With a career spanning decades, The Iron Sheik left an indelible mark on the industry and became a beloved figure to millions of fans worldwide.
On June 07, 2023, The Iron Sheik tragically passed away at the age of 81. His death marked the end of an era and left a void in the hearts of wrestling fans around the world. Tributes poured in from fellow wrestlers, industry insiders, and fans, all expressing their admiration for the man who had entertained and inspired them for decades. The Iron Sheik's contributions to professional wrestling will forever be remembered, and his legacy as a true legend of the industry remains intact.
In this article, we reflect on his illustrious career, highlight his remarkable achievements, and remember the legacy he leaves behind.
The Iron Sheik came to the professional wrestling scene in the 1970s, capturing the attention of fans with his imposing stature and heelish personality. Known for his distinctive handlebar moustache and his penchant for taunting opponents, he quickly established himself as a formidable force in the ring. However, his Iranian heritage became a defining aspect of his character.
During the height of the Cold War, The Iron Sheik embraced the role of an anti-American villain, capitalizing on the political tensions between the United States and Iran. His persona embodied the stereotype of the foreign antagonist, utilizing his Persian background to fuel the animosity between himself and his opponents. The Iron Sheik's ability to generate intense heat from the crowd made him a perfect foil for the patriotic American heroes that populated the wrestling landscape.
The Iron Sheik left WWE in 1988 and briefly appeared in WCW in 1989. He later returned to WWE in 1991 alongside former rival Sgt. Slaughter, adopting the persona of Colonel Mustafa. Following this stint, he resurfaced again in 1997 as the manager of The Sultan. The Iron Sheik's final appearance occurred at WrestleMania X-Seven, where he made a one-night-only return, winning a Gimmick Battle Royal and reigniting his rivalry with Slaughter.
The Iron Sheik was a master of the suplex, though he was best known for his crippling Camel Clutch manoeuvre. Following his loss of the WWE Championship, The Iron Sheik engaged in a historic rivalry with Sgt. Slaughter. The two clashed in a famous Boot Camp Match at Madison Square Garden, where Slaughter emerged victorious.
On December 26, 1983, the day after Christmas, The Iron Sheik made history by defeating Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden to capture the WWE Championship. He was the first and the only Iranian to do so. The victory was surrounded by controversy, as Backlund's manager Arnold Skaaland threw in the towel after Backlund refused to submit. The Iron Sheik held the title for just under a month before losing it in one of the most famous matches of all time. On January 23, 1984, he faced Hollywood Hogan, and though he lost, the match launched Hogan's career and put professional wrestling in the mainstream spotlight.
Afterwards, The Iron Sheik transitioned to the tag team division, teaming up with Nikolai Volkoff. The foreign pairing achieved success by winning the World Tag Team Championship in 1985 at WrestleMania, defeating the U.S. Express.
WWE is saddened to learn that Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, known the world over as WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik, passed away on Wednesday, June 7, at age 81.— WWE (@WWE) June 7, 2023
WWE extends its condolences to The Iron Sheik’s family, friends and fans.https://t.co/FGE0yKeuWA pic.twitter.com/yVLpLObxFA
The Iron Sheik was a larger-than-life figure who captivated audiences with his charismatic personality, intense wrestling style, and unique character. The Iron Sheik's impact extended far beyond the ring, as he became a mentor and ambassador for the sport, passing on his knowledge and passion to future generations. Though his death leaves a void in the wrestling world, his legacy will continue to inspire and entertain fans for years to come. The Iron Sheik will forever be remembered as one of the greatest and most influential performers in the history of professional wrestling.