The Iron Sheik Dead, WWE Legend Dies At Age 81

WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik has passed away at the age of 81.

In a statement posted to The Iron Sheik's official Twitter account on June 7, it was announced that Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, better known to the world as The Iron Sheik, passed away peacefully. 

The statement read, "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."

Vaziri leaves behind his wife Caryl of 47 years, his children Tanya, Nikki, and son-in-law Eddie, as well as five grandchildren and two nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter, Marissa.

Sheik's Early WWF Career

The Iron Sheik entered the industry in the early 1970s by training under Verne Gange. He then made his WWF debut in 1979 by winning the first battle royal to take place at Madison Square Garden. After feuding with Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino, Sheik left WWF in 1980 but eventually returned in 1983. That December, he dethroned Bob Backlund to capture his only WWF World Heavyweight Championship at MSG. 

After only a month of reigning as champion, Sheik lost the title to Hulk Hogan in a moment that kickstarted "Hulkamania." Later in the summer of 1984, Sheik feuded with Sgt. Slaughter, which resulted in a bloody Boot Camp match that Slaughter ultimately won. Sheik challenged Hogan for the world title again throughout the rest of that year, but his attempts were unsuccessful.

In 1985, Sheik formed a successful tag team with Nikolai Volkoff. At the very first WrestleMania on March 31, 1985, Sheik and Volkoff defeated Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo to capture their first WWF Tag Team Championship. After several rematches, though, Windham and Rotundo won their titles back in June.

WWF Departures And Returns

The Iron Sheik appeared at WrestleMania II by taking part in the WWF and NFL battle royal, which was ultimately won by Andre The Giant. Throughout 1986, Sheik and Volkoff vied for the tag team titles again but came up short to The British Bulldogs on several occasions. 

Sheik and Volkoff once again teamed up at the biggest show of the year, WrestleMania III, but they were only able to score the disqualification victory over¬†B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell of The Killer Bees thanks to "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan's interference. Later in October 1987, Sheik left the company. The hiatus was short-lived ‚ÄĒ and so was his return ‚ÄĒ as Sheik competed again from February through July.

Over the next few years, Sheik made appearances in WCCW, AWA, and WWC, before landing in WCW, where he feuded with the likes of Sting and The Steiner Brothers. But by 1991, Sheik returned to WWF under the name Col. Mustafa. 

That March saw Col. Mustafa align with his former rival Sgt. Slaughter. After wracking up singles wins for a majority of the year, Mustafa, Slaughter, and Gen. Adnan teamed up to take on the formidable duo of Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior in the main event of SummerSlam 1991. With Sid Justice as the special guest referee, The Triangle of Terror ultimately came up short.

The End of His Career And Legacy

In 1992, Mustafa took part in the fifth Royal Rumble match in history, which was for the vacant world title. But just a few months later, Mustafa departed WWF once again. He would return for another one-off nearly a decade later for the Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17, which he emerged the victor of.

Sheik received his WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2005 during WrestleMania 21 weekend. He made cameo appearances on WWE programming in the following years, and his last match took place on the independent scene in 2007.

In recent decades, The Iron Sheik made several film and television appearances outside of the ring. Those appearances included The Tale of the 3 Mohammads, Operation Belvis Bash, Kenny vs. Spenny, Brown & Friendly, Robot Chicken, and The Eric André Show.

For the newer generation of fans, Iron Sheik may be remembered for his profanity-filled, capitalized tweets bashing wrestlers like Hulk Hogan or even celebrities like Justin Bieber.

Wrestling Inc. sends its condolences to the family, friends, and fans of The Iron Sheik at this time.