RIP Ivan Koloff

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toobfreak

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Dec 19, 2016
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If there are any old WWF wrestling fans out there, Ivan Koloff has died. Actually born a Canadian, you will remember him as having debuted in the World Wrestling Federation in late 1969, managed by Captain Lou Albano. He soon started a rivalry with then-WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino. In January 1971, Koloff defeated Sammartino at Madison Square Garden for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after a knee drop from the top rope, ending Sammartino’s seven and a half years reign. Koloff lost the championship 21 days later to Pedro Morales, essentially being used as a transitional champion (he was used to change the title from Sammartino to Morales without the two fan favorites ever having to work against each other), much like Stan Stasiak and The Iron Sheik would be in later years. After the loss, Koloff remained a contender for the title but never reclaimed it, leaving the WWF in 1971.
During his time in the WWF, Koloff wrestled World Heavyweight Championship title matches against Sammartino, Morales, Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund, holding the distinction, with fellow villain Stan Stasiak, as one of only two men to challenge all four of these fan favorite champions. Koloff would also be the first opponent to ever challenge for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match in a rematch loss against Bruno Sammartino. Koloff passed away today in Montreal of liver cancer. He was 74.

 

drwatson

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Aug 3, 2010
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toledo
I remember him from the old NWA when I was a kid and they had those three Russians thing going on...Good Times RIP

 

jiminks

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Aug 31, 2012
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I got to meet him once. He stayed in character, and I responded in kind as his long lost nephew. We both enjoyed the exchange of jokes.

 

jiminks

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Aug 31, 2012
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I hear George "the Animal" Steele also passed away yesterday. I used to imitate him and Ivan Koloff back when I did a radio talk show. RIP, gents.

 

shutterbugg

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Nov 18, 2013
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Far from his subhuman "Animal" personna, George had a BS from Michigan State (played football for the Spartans for a short time) and a Masters from Central Michigan University. He coached high school football in suburban Detroit and was well-liked and something of a local celeb. IIRC he moved to FL about 20 years ago, survived a bout with cancer, became quite religious. Amazing he lived as long as he did. RIP.
Wrestling was wild and wooly in the days before all the obvious and implausible acrobatics set in in the 80s. Sure there was a lot of theatrics, but the old timers got hurt frequently. Guys like Lord Layton, Gorilla Monsoon, Baron Von Rashke, Chief Jay Strongbull, Pierre "Mad Dog" LaBelle and his brother/manager Maurice, and the redoubtable Shiek...they don't make 'em like that anymore. I remember former football star Ernie "The Cat" Ladd wrestled for a while...used to bounce his opponent off the ropes and let him slam into his waiting size-16 boot!

 

toobfreak

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Dec 19, 2016
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You're right, Jim, we've lost three wrestlers in the past three days---- George The Animal Steele, Ivan Koloff and a lady I'm not very familiar with, Nicole Bass, who was some sort of weight lifter and wrestler for the WWF and elsewhere. Good Lord, she was only 52.

 

bassbug

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Dec 29, 2016
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I was maybe 11 years old, but I remember watching Ivan defeat every comer on the televised matches, working the kids up into a frenzy and begging our parents to take us to the live Matches at Maple Leaf Gardens, where he would face "serious" challengers. I finally got my wish one Saturday night and, along with my cousin, my father took us down to the Gardens to watch Ivan Koloff take on "The Mighty Igor". The match ended in a draw, with both contenders blaming the referee, of course, setting up a second match to be announced in the future...LOL
Ah, to be a kid again...sigh