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Hossein Khosrow Vaziri (Persian:حسین خسرو علی وزیری) (born March 15, 1943) is a semi-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.
Cast as a heel in the 1980s, he later gained popularity on Opie and Anthony, Kidd Chris, The Howard Stern Show, and on the internet due to his shoot interviews and outbursts on the wrestling industry and the hatred he expressed for various wrestlers.
 Early life and amateur wrestling
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 183.5 pounds. He was assistant coach to the USA team for 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.
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). He also introduced the Persian clubs, a sport in his native Iran, and challenged wrestlers to do as many swings as him. His Iranian gimmick received attention due the events of the Iranian revolution.
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. He later feuded with Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino before leaving in 1980.
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.
 World Wrestling Federation (1983–1987, 1988)
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 had supposedly injured Backlund during a "Persian club challenge" prior to this title match.
During his brief title reign, The Iron Sheik wrestled against Backlund, Chief Jay Strongbow, Pat Patterson, and Tito Santana before dropping the belt just four weeks later to Hulk Hogan. He would then engage in a bitter feud with Sgt. Slaughter, to whom he would eventually lose a "Boot Camp Rules" match. As a tag team partner with Nikolai Volkoff, and under the management of "Classy" Freddie Blassie, the newly-dubbed "Foreign Legion" won the WWF World tag team title from the U.S. Express at the first WrestleMania. Part of the pair's regular entrance consisted of waving the Iranian and Russian flags, then demanding that the crowd be quiet and "show respect" while Volkoff sang a throaty version of the Soviet national anthem, a demand that was usually only attracted boos from the crowd. Sheik then usually grabbed the mic and said "Iran number 1, Russia number 1, USA (followed by a simulated spitting acting). It was all designed to get major heat from the crowd. 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.
In May 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. In 1988, The Iron Sheik returned to the WWF but the return was short-lived.
 Other national promotions (1987–1990)
In 1987, the Iron Sheik competed in Dallas' World Class Championship Wrestling where he feuded with Matt Borne over the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship. 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.
 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 and the Ultimate Warrior. Following Slaughter's face turn after SummerSlam 1991, he teamed with General Adnan until the middle of 1992, when he left the promotion again.
 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 the late 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).
 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 or outlandish wrestlers from the 1980s and 1990s. Reportedly the Iron Sheik was chosen to be the winner because he was physically unable to take the "over the top rope" move that eliminated each competitor. Rather than being booed for winning, the villainous Sheik 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.
In 2005, the Iron Sheik was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his old rival, Sgt. Slaughter. 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 on Raw. Coach replied saying, "I like the idea and I will really take some time to consider it." 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 with Nikolai Volkoff to face off against the U.S. Express in a rematch from the first WrestleMania. Before the bout could begin, they were interrupted by Jillian Hall, who came out to sing the Bruce Springsteen song "Born in the USA."
In 2004, his MWF Studio Shoot Interview DVD made him a star to a whole new generation of fans, talking about his hatred for Brian Blair, Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and others. The interview led to his appearing on the Howard Stern Show and has been viewed by over one million people online.
He made an appearance on WWE Monday Night Raw on November 16, 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 LJN WWF action figure of himself and Hulk Hogan.
The Iron Sheik's final match took place at MWF Soul Survivor VI April 24, 2010 in Melrose, Massachusetts, teaming with TNA star "Black Machismo" Jay Lethal to defeat "Stalker" Dylan Kage (with Paul Bearer) by making Kage submit to the camel clutch. The Sheik remains active in the MWF as a manager.
On the November 15, 2010, edition of Raw, as part of the Old School theme, Iron Sheik appeared with Nikolai Volkoff, singing the Soviet national anthem before being interrupted by Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov, the latter of whom then sung a duet with Volkoff of the Russian National anthem. He then proceeded to rant on Hulk Hogan until his microphone was cut off.
He recently underwent an ankle operation to repair his damaged left ankle, which is one of the many injuries he has sustained over his long professional and amateur wrestling career. The operation lasted 9 hours. In an interview, Khosrow stated that, although he found a big improvement, he felt like he had another 50 percent to fully recover, and he is currently doing training therapy to improve his walking skills.
 Acting career
The Iron Sheik made his film debut in The Tale of the 3 Mohammads in 2005. He then appeared alongside Daniel Baldwin and Corey Feldman in Operation Belvis Bash in 2011. Sheik also made an appearance on the Canadian show Kenny vs. Spenny on the "Who is a better pro wrestler?" episode where the Iron Sheik attempted to sodomize a naked Spenny with a beer bottle. He also appeared in Maz Jobrani's 2009 stand-up comedy special Brown & Friendly.
 Personal life
Iron Sheik was a former soldier in the Iranian Army. He married Caryl Peterson in 1974. They have 3 grown daughters as well as 3 grandchildren together. Vaziri's eldest daughter, Marissa Jeanne Vaziri, was found strangled to death in her apartment on May 5, 2003, at the age of 27. Marissa's live-in boyfriend, Charles Warren Reynolds, 38, confessed to the crime and was charged with murder.
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