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Nikolai Volkoff, WWE Hall of Famer, dies at 70

Nikolai Volkoff, a pro wrestler whose Cold War villain persona made him a fan favorite, has died at age 70, the WWE announced Sunday.

Born Josip Nikolai Peruzović, the wrestler had a career that spanned the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and several iterations of WWE. Across that span, he battled Sgt. Slaughter, Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino and, with the Iron Sheik, won the WWE Tag Team Championship at the first WrestleMania in 1985.

The Iron Sheik mourned his friend Sunday, tweeting in part: “I MISS YOU FOREVER.”

As WWE took off in the Cold War’s mid-1980s (when it was the World Wrestling Federation), Peruzovic and Iron Sheik became one of pro wrestling’s most successful heel teams ever, with Peruzovic singing the Soviet national anthem as Sheik fired up the crowds.

Peruzovic was inducted into wrestling’s Hall of Fame in 2005 and most recently appeared in WWE in 2014. WWE did not say where he died or the cause of death.

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