As first reported by PWInsider this morning, WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff, best remembered as one of the top heels of the 1980s in his tag team with the Iron Sheik, has passed away at the age of 70. Volkoff had previously been admitted to hospital for dehydration before being released just days ago. No other details have emerged.
Josip Peruzović was born in Yugoslavia (now present day Croatia), where he became a member of the Yugoslavian national weight lifting team, before emigrating to Canada in 1967. As he adapted to life in Canada, he took interest in professional wrestling, where he became a pupil of Calgary’s Stu Hart. While working for Stampede Wrestling, he became tag team partners with another Canadian, Newton Tattrie, and by the end of the 1960’s, the two left for the US where they formed the tag team The Mongols, with Tattrie becoming Geeto Mongol and Peruzović becoming Bepo Mongol. The two worked various NWA territories, before heading to the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), where, under the management of Captain Lou Albano, became 2x WWWF International Tag Team Champions.
He left the WWWF in 1971 to become Nikolai Volkoff, becoming a sought after singles heel with the likes of the AWA and various NWA territories (such as Mid South), as well as the occasional return to the WWWF. He eventually returned to the WWF in 1984, where he formed his most famous unit, as the tag partner of former WWF World Champion Iron Sheik, managed by “Classy” Freddie Blassie, who would also win WWF World Tag Team gold. Volkoff remained with the WWF until 1995, forming The Bolsheviks with Boris Zhukov when his partnership with the Sheik ended, and being an enforcer for Ted DiBiase‘s Million Dollar Corporation in his final year with the company. Following his last run with the WWF in 1995, Volkoff entered into semi-retirement, although he would make one-off appearances throughout the wrestling world, right up until last year. In 2005, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
MY BEST FRIEND. MY PARTNER. MY BROTHER. WE GET MORE HEAT THAN ANYONE ON EARTH. I TRUST HIM WITH MY LIFE. HE TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I WAS DOWN. I MISS YOU FOREVER 💔 pic.twitter.com/pp7ZgQRDnb
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) July 29, 2018
Sad to hear the passing of @WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff
Celebrate his life
Watch his greatness on @WWENetwork and all please rise as he sings the Russian National Anthem pic.twitter.com/0m5US6D0tw
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) July 29, 2018
We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Nikolai Volkoff.
Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans. He was a true one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/L7749gC9kB
— Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard (@PrichardShow) July 29, 2018
Sat next to Nikolai Volkoff for nearly three hours last year at Bud Carson's Pro Wrestling World.
He was a kind man who obliged as I asked him during his (very few) slow periods to tell me about wrestling Bruno and Hogan in the Garden.
RIP to a great wrestler and person. pic.twitter.com/6lw3YDVc7Y
— Ian Riccaboni (@IanRiccaboni) July 29, 2018