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What was the Iron Sheik’s cause of death?

From champion to the catalyst of one of the greatest eras in wrestling history, the Iron Sheik’s effect on the sport will be remembered for all time.

From champion to the catalyst of one of the greatest eras in wrestling history, the Iron Sheik's effect on the sport will be remembered for all time.

The world of professional wrestling is in mourning this week, with news of the loss of one of the most iconic personalities in the history of the sport. Here’s a look at just who was the man they called, The Iron Sheik.

The Iron Sheik has passed away

According to a statement issued by his representatives on Wednesday morning, The Iron Sheik, one of the most recognizable personalities in professional wrestling history, has died at 81 years old. No official cause of death was given, however, considering his age as well as the fact that he was not known to be suffering from any ailment, it’s quite likely it was simply natural causes.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

Who was the Iron Sheik?

Born in Iran in 1942, Sheik, whose real name was Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri was an accomplished amateur wrestler before embarking on a professional career. After getting his start in the industry via Verne Gagne’s AWA, he would go on to become one of the greatest heel wrestlers of his era. Yet, perhaps what he will always truly be remembered for is his run in the WWF, now known as the WWE. Indeed, he would actually become champion of the WWF after beating Bob Backlund in December of 1983.

Of course, the best was still yet to come as just one month later, he would kickstart what would become the era of ‘Hulkamania,’ as Hulk Hogan would defeat him to win the WWF World Championship at Madison Square Garden on January 23rd, 1984. Hogan would remain champion for four years, while Sheik would play his villainous rival perfectly. Between the two, they catapulted the WWF into public conscious and thereby increased its popularity immensely. Indeed, Sheik competed at the very first ‘Wrestlemania’ back in 1985, where he won the WWF tag team title with Nikolai Volkoff. Incidentally, both men were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Iron Sheik remembered

In a statement released by the organization, the WWE paid their respects to the legend. “WWE is saddened to hear of the passing of WWE Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik, and extends its condolences to his family, friends, and fans,” the statement read. Sheik is survived by his wife Caryl, daughters Tanya and Nikki and five grandchildren. Sadly, his family had to battle severe tragedy before, when his eldest daughter, Marissa, was murdered by her boyfriend in 2003, a terrible moment which was noted in ‘The Sheik,’ a documentary about his life which was released in 2014. In recent years he made several appearances on the Howard Stern Show as well as maintained a popular Twitter account, which featured jokes ghostwritten by his management team. The Iron Sheik will be missed.


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