Iron Sheik: Wikis


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The Iron Sheik
Ring name(s) The Iron Sheik[1]
Col. Mustafa[2]
Great Hussein Arab[2]
Great Hossein Arab[2]
Ali Vasari[2]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in[1]
Billed weight 262 lb[2]
Born March 15, 1943 (1943-03-15) (age 67)[2]
Tehran, Iran[1][3]
Resides Fayetteville, Georgia[4]
Trained by Verne Gagne[1]
Billy Robinson
Debut 1972[2]

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri (born March 15, 1943)[2] is a retired Iranian professional wrestler and actor better known by his ring name The Iron Sheik. He is known for ending the near six year World Wrestling Federation Championship reign of Bob Backlund and for being the man Hulk Hogan defeated for his first WWF Championship.

Typecast as a heel in the 1980s, he later gained additional popularity on The Howard Stern Show due to his infamous outbursts on the wrestling industry and the hatred he expressed for various wrestlers while in character.


Early life and amateur wrestling

Khosrow was born in Tehran, Iran.

He made a name for himself as an amateur wrestler and also worked as a bodyguard for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family for several years.[3]

Khosrow competed to become part of the Iranian Olympic Greco Roman team for the 1968 Summer Olympics held in Mexico but was eliminated during his country's trials. Nonetheless, wrestling promoters later billed him as having won a medal at these Olympics. [3]

After this, he moved to the United States and became the assistant coach of two US Olympic squads in the 1970s. In 1971, he was the Amateur Athletic Union Greco-Roman wrestling champion at 180.5 pounds.[5] On April 30, 2009, he claimed to have participated in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Pro wrestling career

Beginnings (1972–1983)

In 1972, Khosrow was invited into becoming a professional wrestler by promoter Verne Gagne. Khosrow trained at Gagne's wrestling camp under trainer Billy Robinson (in the same class as Ric Flair and then wrestled for Gagne's American Wrestling Association. He also worked as a trainer, teaching Ricky Steamboat, Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell.[6]

Khosrow first wrestled as a face in preliminary matches before a promoter suggested that he adopt a heel gimmick similar to that of the notorious Sheik.[6]

Khosrow obliged and adopted what came to be his signature look: he shaved his head bald, grew a traditional "buffo" style mustache, added wrestling boots with the toe curled up (a nod to his ethnic background which, according to Khosrow, was an idea from Jimmy Snuka[citation needed]). He also introduced the Persian clubs, a sport in his native Iran, and challenged wrestlers to do as many swings as him.[7] His Iranian gimmick received attention due the events of the Iranian revolution.[6]

Taking the name The Great Hossein Arab, he won his first title, the Canadian Tag Team Championship, with partner the Texas Outlaw.

He caught the eye of the WWF where he made his debut in 1979 and won the first-ever Battle Royal in Madison Square Garden, New York City. This earned him a title shot at then-champion Bob Backlund, who pinned him later that night in a 30-minute battle.[8] He later feuded with Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino before leaving in 1980.[9]

Khosrow would resurface as The Iron Sheik in the NWA territories. Playing on real-life political matters (notably the Iran hostage crisis) and the animosity Americans had for the country of Iran, he moved on to the Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic territories, capturing the Mid-Atlantic title from Jim Brunzell before moving to Georgia Championship Wrestling. There, he had notable matches with Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, and Tommy Rich, and traded the National TV title with Ron Garvin.[10]

World Wrestling Federation (1983-1987)

Khosrow would return to the WWF in 1983 as The Iron Sheik and challenged Backlund once again; he defeated him on December 26, 1983 at Madison Square Garden for the WWF World championship. Sheik also injured Backlund during a Persian club challenge prior to this title match.[11]

During his title reign, The Iron Sheik held memorable bouts against Backlund, Chief Jay Strongbow, Pat Patterson, and Tito Santana before dropping the belt just four weeks later to Hulk Hogan.[12] The WWF's owner, now Vince McMahon, Jr., had wanted to take the WWF in a different direction as part of his plan to turn the WWF from a regional promotion into a national one. Part of his plan involved taking the title from Backlund and putting it on the charismatic Hogan, who had left the AWA to wrestle for McMahon (in the process making an enemy of the AWA's owner Verne Gagne).

He would then engage in a bitter feud with Sgt. Slaughter, to whom he would eventually lose a "Boot Camp Rules" match. The Iron Sheik would go on to team with Nikolai Volkoff as the "Foreign Legion", and under the management of "Classy" Freddie Blassie, won the WWF World tag team title from the U.S. Express at the first WrestleMania.[13] During his stint in the WWF, he appeared in the music video for Cyndi Lauper's "Goonies 'R' Good Enough" as a part of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection.[14]

In 1987, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan (an on-screen rival) and Khosrow were pulled over by New Jersey police after a WWF event, suspecting Duggan of DUI. After a search of the vehicle and the persons, police discovered that Duggan was under the influence of marijuana while the Sheik was high on cocaine. Small amounts of cocaine were also found in the vehicle. Duggan received a conditional release while the Sheik was placed on probation for a year. The mini-scandal that erupted after two in-ring enemies were found drinking and doing drugs together led to the end of the angle, the Sheik's release, and Duggan's temporary departure from the WWF.[2][6][15][16][17]

Independent circuit (1987-1990)

In 1987, the Iron Sheik competed in Dallas' World Class Championship Wrestling.[18] He stayed with that organization for only a few months, followed by brief stints with the AWA, where he attacked Sgt. Slaughter during a match, and Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council. In addition to reigniting his feud with Slaughter and teaming with Col. Debeers, his main opponent during this time period was Tony Atlas, who he feuded with in both WCCW and WWC.[19]

In 1988, he had a brief return to the WWF.[20] In 1989, he had a short stint in the National Wrestling Alliance, where he feuded with Sting over the NWA World Television Championship. He left after about half a year into his stint with the company.[21]

Return to the WWF (1991-1992)

He returned to the WWF again in early 1991 and wrestled a few house shows as the Iron Sheik before making his televised re-debut on Wrestling Challenge as Colonel Mustafa,and was aligned with former enemy Sgt. Slaughter. Along with Iraqi General Adnan, Slaughter and Mustafa were portrayed as Iraqi sympathizers during the first Gulf War and feuded with Hulk Hogan. Following Slaughter's face turn after SummerSlam 1991, he teamed with General Adnan until the middle of 1992, when he left the promotion again.[22]

Return to the independent circuit (1993-1994)

The Iron Sheik wrestled independently afterward, and went on a wrestling tour to Nigeria in 1994, promoted by Chris Adams and co-sponsored by Pepsi, and featuring former WWF stars Jimmy Snuka, Greg Valentine, Demolition Ax, and World Class wrestler/owner Kevin Von Erich.

The Sheik was the second champion of "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble's Century Wrestling Alliance, originally winning the title from Tommy Dreamer in Burlington, Vermont on March 21, and dropping the championship to Vic Steamboat on October 23, 1993 in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

In 1994, the Sheik tried his hand at strong style professional wrestling in the UWFi in Japan. He lost by tap-out to Yoji Anjoh in about 5:30 (the in-ring action of the UWFi, though tailored to resemble an actual competitive bout, was in fact made up of predetermined outcomes). Hulk Hogan no-good moderfucker

Sporadic appearances (1996-present)

In late 1996, the Sheik would team up with his old nemesis Bob Backlund to manage WWF wrestler The Sultan, who had a Middle Eastern gimmick, however he once again failed a drug test (he refers to this as a "medicine test" in various shoot videos) and was excluded from the federation. On April 1, 2001, at WrestleMania X-Seven, the Iron Sheik was the victor of the Gimmick Battle Royal, a match between other popular wrestlers from the 1980s and 1990s. Rather than being booed for winning, he was cheered as a fan favorite. He went on to wrestle in various independent promotions for several years afterwards and he still appears at independent events today.[23]

In 2005, the Iron Sheik was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his old rival, Sgt. Slaughter.[24] On the June 11, 2007 episode of Raw, he along with Jimmy Snuka appeared in a taped segment showing their appreciation of WWE owner Vince McMahon. On the June 18 episode of Raw, he approached McMahon's executive assistant Jonathan Coachman about having his own interview show (like Piper's Pit and The Brother Love Show) to show on Raw. Coach replied saying, "I like the idea and I will really take some time to consider it."[25] On August 13, he appeared on an episode of Raw held at Madison Square Garden for a WWE version of American Idol. Sheik came out with Nikolai Volkoff while Volkoff sang the Soviet anthem. The March 10, 2008 edition of Raw featured rematches from previous WrestleManias. Iron Sheik appeared along with Nikolai Volkoff to face off against the U.S. Express in a rematch from the first WrestleMania. Before the bout could begin, however, they were interrupted by Jillian Hall, who came out to sing the Bruce Springsteen song "Born in the USA."

On October 2, 2009, on the 10th anniversary of Smackdown, he appeared backstage arguing with Sgt. Slaughter, choking on a shrimp, then helped by Hurricane Helms.

Shortly after, the Iron Sheik made another appearance on WWE Monday Night Raw on November 16th, 2009 in the opening of the show, with Rowdy Roddy Piper and Luis Guzmán, going nuts on Hulk Hogan and proving his dominance with a classic LJN WWF action figure of himself and Hulk Hogan.

Recent resurgence in popularity and Howard Stern Show appearances

In recent years, the Iron Sheik has expressed intense dislike for many wrestlers, wrestling promoters, former friends, and celebrity figures, including Brian Blair (he had him in the Camel Clutch), Nikolai Volkoff, The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, André the Giant, Michael Richards, Rob Yabsley and others. In various interviews conducted with the Sheik, he has lashed out at these and other figures, using extremely profane language and often threatening to "humble" them by means of anal rape. As clips of these interviews made their way to YouTube, the Iron Sheik began to experience a cult following among a new generation of fans.

Beginning in July 2007, the Sheik and his tirades became a regular topic of discussion on The Howard Stern Show. The staff, amused by his controversial outbursts as well as his frequent profane threats to "humble" those who anger him, spent time almost daily talking about the Iron Sheik. Artie Lange began impersonating him after their first playing of the audio clips, since then adding the impression to his stand-up comedy act, pointing out the redundancy of the Sheik's insult "you are gay and faggot!" The Sheik appeared on the Stern Show on August 2, 2007. Fellow radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge, appearing as one of Stern's guests, challenged the Sheik's "Olympic" gold medal as fake, although it is a valid 1971 AAU National Championship Medal.

Prior to the contest, the Iron Sheik was involved in a shouting match with the Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, George Foreman, and Killer Bees look-a-likes (portrayed by Stern staff members Richard Christy and Sal "The Stockbroker" Governale), who both appeared via satellite in the studio to "insult" the Sheik. Artie Lange also wore a costume, including a fake beard, and performed his impression, calling himself the new WWE wrestler "Iron Sheik Junior". The Iron Sheik later realized that Lange was portraying "Iron Sheik Junior" and joked that he would "rape" him, even "if he's fat."

On October 15, 2007, The Iron Sheik made his debut on Howard 101 with Shuli Egar, hosting the one hour The Iron Sheik Show. In a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show (March 2008) he discussed problems with Beetlejuice (whom he did not realize was mentally retarded), and apologized to Stern for his anti-semitic comments. During his visit, he was served a bottle of Beck's beer which he threw at staff member Will Murray as he had apparently questioned his sexual orientation during their pre-interview; both parties would apologize soon afterward.

Sheik has since gone on to make appearances with The Killers of Comedy alongside several Stern regular comedians including Christy and Governale. In a 2008 tour, the Sheik was involved in an altercation with fellow performer Beetlejuice that resulted in Khosrow being suspended from the tour.

He was roasted on October 10, 2008 by fellow wrestlers Brian Blair and Nikolai Volkoff, and others. However, the Sheik abruptly ended the roast when he slapped Blair. He appeared on an episode of the television show Kenny vs. Spenny, entitled "Who's the Best Pro Wrestler?," where he repeatedly called Spenny's favorites wrestlers Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior "faggots". In late 2008, he was briefly shown on TMZ bad mouthing Hulk Hogan at the LAX airport in Los Angeles.

In 2009, the Sheik appeared on The Opie & Anthony Show, where according to the show's hosts he urinated on himself as a result of drinking 8 beers in an hour.

According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter website, the Iron Sheik was recently arrested after boarding a flight with AirTran after someone discovered he had alcohol in his bag. The Iron Sheik was in the area (Las Vegas) for a "bong connection", which a video of the him receiving the bong created with small bottles of alcohol can be found on YouTube. On March 11th, 2010, Jim Ross confirmed the rumor on his official blog and on his Twitter page.

Acting career

Sheik made his film debut in 2005's The Tale of the 3 Mohammads and appear alongside Daniel Baldwin and Corey Feldman in 2009's The Adventures of Belvis Bash.

Personal life

On May 5, 2003, Iron Sheik's 37-year-old daughter, Marissa Jeanne Vaziri, was found strangled to death in her apartment. Marissa's live-in boyfriend, Charles Warren Reynolds, 38, confessed to the crime and was charged with murder.[26]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

  • International Association of Wrestling
    • IAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    • IAW Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Brian Costello
  • NWA New Zealand
    • NWA New Zealand British Commonwealth Championship (1 time)
  • NWA 2000
    • NWA 2000 American Heritage Championship (1 time)
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI ranked him #134 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
    • PWI ranked him #96 of the 100 best tag teams of the "PWI Years" with the Nikolai Volkoff in 2003


  1. ^ a b c d e "Iron Sheik WWE Hall of Fame Profile". WWE. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Iron Sheik Profile". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. p. 163. ISBN 9780060012588. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d Iron Sheik Wrestleinfo
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Solie's Title Histories: NWA - NATIONAL WRESTLING ALLIANCE
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Ellison, Lillian (2003). The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle. ReaganBooks. p. 173. ISBN 9780060012588. 
  15. ^ - Jim Duggan FAQ
  16. ^ 4w-Online
  17. ^ CANOE - SLAM! Sports - Wrestling - RVD suspended 30 days
  18. ^ Online World of Wrestling
  19. ^ Online World of Wrestling
  20. ^ 1988 WWF results
  21. ^ Online World of Wrestling
  22. ^ Online World of Wrestling
  23. ^ PWI Staff (2007). "Pro Wrestling Illustrated presents: 2007 Wrestling almanac & book of facts". "Wrestling’s historical cards" (Kappa Publishing): pp. 107. 
  24. ^ WWE: Superstars > Hall of Fame > The Iron Sheik > Bio
  25. ^ Raw Results-6/18/2007
  26. ^ " - Boyfriend Arrested in Death of Wrestler's Daughter". May 6, 2003. 
  27. ^ "Jimmy Hart profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 

Further reading

External links

Simple English

The Iron Sheik
File:Iron Shiek Milwaukee WI
Ring name(s) The Iron Sheik
Col. Mustafa
Great Hussein Arab
Great Hossein Arab
Ali Vasari
Ryan Allen
Billed height6 ft. 0 in.
Billed weight262 lb. (119 kg)
BornMarch 15, 1943 (1943-03-15) (age 67)
Tehran, Iran
ResidesFayetteville, Georgia
Billed fromTehran, Iran
Trained byVerne Gagne
Billy Robinson

Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri (born March 15, 1943, in Tehran, Iran) better known by his ring name, The Iron Sheik, is a semi-retired Iranian professional wrestler that is best known for wrestling for NWA and WCW under the ring name Arn Anderson.

He is a one-time WWF Champion, three-time WWF Tag Team Championship with Nikolai Volkoff and was also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 by Sgt. Slaughter.

He ended the near six year World Wrestling Federation Championship reign of Bob Backlund and was the man Hulk Hogan defeated for his first WWF Championship. He is also known for his shoot interviews on The Howard Stern Show, Opie and Anthony and Kidd Chris and also the internet.

His finishing move was the Camel clutch.

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