Just one day after wrestling legend George “The Animal” Steele passed away at 79, another legendary wrestler and former champion has passed away.
Ivan ‘The Russian Bear’ Koloff has died at the age of 74, according to his family.
His daughter mentioned back on Feb. 2 about her father’s declining health:
“My dad was diagnosed with liver disease about 10 years ago and while he has been living with it, he chose not to make this announcement public to his fans and friends,” she wrote. “But doctors are now saying that his liver function is getting worse day by day and it will continue to. There are no other medical options available for my dad for a cure. ”
Koloff, born Oreal Perras, became “The Russian Bear”, a devious heel billed from Ukraine. in 1967. Two years later, he made his debut with the WWWF (now WWE). Much like the majority of the roster at the time, he began a feud with then-champion Bruno Sammartino.
On January 18, 1971, Koloff defeated Sammartino in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after one of his signature moves, a knee drop from the top rope, thereby Sammartino’s seven and two-third years reign as the champion. Three weeks later, Koloff lost the title to Pedro Morales. It was seen as a transitional title reign (as both Morales and Sammartino were fan-favorites, having them face-off wouldn’t make sense).
Despite the loss, Koloff had success during the 1970’s and 1980’s wrestling in the National Wrestling Alliance, as well as Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) and Smokey Mountain Wrestling. He officially retired from in-ring competition in 1994. He was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2011.
Overall, Koloff was a multi-time champion who was as devious inside the ring as he was gentle outside of it. He overcame years of alcohol and drug abuse.
I would like to send my sincerest condolences to the family of Ivan Oreal Perras at this time.