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“Rest in Power, Uncle”: Dwayne Johnson, Triple H and Bray Wyatt Join Millions in Mourning Over the Saddening Demise of 81-Year-Old WWE Legend

Published 06/08/2023, 2:28 AM EDT

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WWE legend and Hall of Famer The Iron Sheik breathed his last in his sleep at 81. Despite his wrestling credibilities that shone at the forefront, the Iron Sheik had a true rags-to-riches story. Post the death of Olympic gold medalist Gholamreza Takhti under mysterious circumstances, the news forced him to abandon his home: “I knew I had to leave.” Soon after he arrived in America, he served the US Olympic wrestling team as an assistant coach in the 70s.

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Sheik entered the international wrestling league in 1979. His willingness to combine fiction and reality allowed him to relish as a Middle Eastern villain in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution and the US hostage crisis. Real-life political tensions took a life of their own in the squared circle as he faced off against the “All American” Hulk Hogan. This culminated in one of the best storylines in wrestling history and developed a lifelong feud.

The Iron Sheik immortalizes himself in wrestling folklore


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Born in Iran, Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, popularly known by his WWE moniker the Iron Sheik, grasped the limelight with his background in Greco-Roman wrestling. When Sheik was a little boy, the family moved to Tehran and established a wrestling gym that once saw some of Iran’s foremost wrestlers train. Iran’s wrestling hero and Olympic gold medalist Takhti was Sheik’s idol who influenced him to try his hand at wrestling. In fact, he would go on to ink the number “90” on his right arm. That is how much Takhti weighed when he won his first gold medal.

Easily mistaken for an Olympic medal, the Greco-Roman wrestler often wore a gold medal around his neck as he won the Amateur Athletic Union national championship in 1971. After serving as an assistant coach for US Olympic Wrestling Squad in 1972 and 1976, he made his foray into the international wrestling league, WWF. Going by the name the Great Hossein Arab, Sheik’s humble real-life persona combined with his talent for theatrics inside the wrestling ring allowed him to engage in several high-profile feuds.


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These legendary feuds propelled pro wrestling to soaring heights. The one move he was especially known for was the camel clutch. Sitting on the back of the opponent, Sheik would lock his fingers on the opponent’s chin and pull them up like a bent bow. This move left the wrestling audience aghast as the six-time reigning world champion Bob ‘Howdy Doody’ Backlund accepted defeat and laid flat on a sweaty mat in 1983.

The Iron Sheik’s official Twitter account revealed that he passed away on June 7, 2023. The pro wrestling community grieved his passing on with noteworthy wrestlers like Dwayne Johnson, Bray Wyatt, Triple H, and several others sharing heartfelt messages on Twitter.

WWE celebrities express their grief online

As wrestling stars sent their condolences, Dwayne Johnson recounted the privilege of closely working with his legendary “uncle.” In fact, Sheik made a few appearances on Dwayne’s sitcom, Young Rock.

For the first time after months, Bray Wyatt returned to his Twitter club. But his return wasn’t random. It was for paying tribute to The Iron Sheik the day following his death.

Mike Foley sent his condolences, recounting the two occasions when he met Sheik from near and afar. He wrote, “Although I never got to know The Sheik well, I was fortunate to have been on hand for two of his most iconic matches – his WWE title victory over Bob Backlund at Madison Square Garden on December 26, 1983 and his “Boot Camp Match” with Sgt Slaughter at MSG in August, 1984. I also had the honor of wrestling the iron sheik for the first and only time – on a tour of Dominica in 1987.”

SmackDown wrestler Karrion Kross thanked The Iron Sheik for his childhood memories and believed Sheik to have contributed to the “development of imagination” when he was just a child. Sheik’s presence in American television helped shape the future of many like Kross.

What could be understood as a joke attempt, Sheik had once called Kurt Angle a “hometown jabroni” ahead of WrestleMania 17. This was a reference to Angle’s freestyle wrestling gold medal win at the 1996 Summer Olympics despite competing with a broken neck. Referring to the word war between the two, Kurt Angle wrote,

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When Sheik met McAfee in the past, Sheik then tweeted, “RESPECT THE @patmcafeeshow HE KNOW WHO IS THE LEGEND OF THE EARTH. HE IMPRESS ME BIG TIME BUBBA.” Pat retweeted it remembering the legend.


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In the words of The Iron Sheik, “You can buy everything with money except a gold medal.” His words will live on and inspire others forever.

Watch This Story – 5 Pro Wrestlers Who Passed Away After Or During Matches



Monika Thapa

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Monika Thapa is a WWE writer at EssentiallySports, who brings a unique blend of fluency in language and passion for the sport to her writing. Having been a fan of WWE since her childhood, Monika writes thought-provoking articles that offer readers deeper insights into the lives of their favorite superstars. She believes that WWE superstars present valuable life lessons that readers can learn from, as seen in her recent piece on Ronda Rousey's workout video.

Edited By: Amal Joyce