Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet Villain in the Wrestling Ring, Is Dead at 70

Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet Villain in the Wrestling Ring, Is Dead at 70
Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet Villain in the Wrestling Ring, Is Dead at 70

Volkoff acted the Soviet baddie for many years. , they carried the flags of their respective countries to the ring. Once inside, Volkoff stripped off what appeared to be a World War II Soviet military coat. When their match began, Volkoff — 6-foot-5 and more than 300 pounds — twice lifted the even larger Hogan over his head.

But Hogan, the self-appointed protector of America, defeated Volkoff.

Volkoff won several championship titles. But the most prestigious one was the tag-team belt that he took home in 1985 with the Iron Sheik, another anti-American character, for the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment).

Volkoff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

Josip Peruzovic was born on Oct. 14, 1947, to Ivan and Drajica Peruzovic in Split, Croatia, when it was part of Yugoslavia. He was a junior weight lifting champion in his country.

At the time of his defection, he spoke no English. Finding his way to Calgary, Alberta, he trained with Stu Hart and Newton Tattrie, with whom he formed The Mongols, a tag team partnership in which Perusovic was Bepo and Tattrie was Geeto. They briefly held the wrestling federation’s international tag team championship in 1971.

Eventually, under Blassie’s tutelage, Peruzovic became Nikolai Volkoff, the Soviet scourge.

Bruno Sammartino, the popular and gentlemanly champion, was one of Volkoff’s most frequent rivals.

In March 1974, nearly four years after Volkoff (then billed as Bepo Mongol) defeated Sammartino, the two battled to a draw for 53 minutes at a sold-out Madison Square Garden until the 11 p.m. curfew.

“The Siberian,” as The Daily News referred to Volkoff, “was tremendously effective in the first half of the match and especially in the closing minutes when he had Bruno’s shoulders to the canvas for counts of two on three occasions.”

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