Ivan Koloff, wrestling's "Russian Bear", dead at 74

20 February, 2017, 01:08 | Author: Felix Jensen

The 74-year-old Koloff had been battling liver cancer.

Born Oreal Perras, Koloff dropped the WWWF Championship to Pedro Morales shortly after beating Sammartino and went on hiatus from the WWWF due to fear that him being there would create a bad incident because of the emotion the fans had after Sammartino's loss. His greatest moment came in 1971 when he defeated Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden to become the champion and end Sammartino's seven-year reign. It was at the time the most shocking moment in pro wrestling history, and remains one of the most infamous moments in the decorated history of the iconic NY arena.

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Koloff moved to the National Wrestling Alliance as a leader of a group called "The Russians". He was also a four-time NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion and a three-time NWA Television Champion. He was, however, voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2015.

Koloff had been battling liver cancer and was in need of "urgent medical care", according to a Go Fund Me page set up by his daughter, Rachel Marley, on February 2. Following his retirement from pro wrestling, he became an ordained minister, and traveled the country attending wrestling conventions and visiting churches to share his story.

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