The Iron Sheik, WWE Wrestling Legend, Dead at 81

The Iranian wrestler, born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, was the 1983 World Heavyweight Champion.

The Iron Sheik, an iconic wrestling heel of the 1980s, has died at age 81.

The death of the Iranian wrestler -- born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri -- was announced in a statement on his social media pages.

"Today, we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend, a force of nature, and an iconic figure who left an incredible mark on the world of professional wrestling," the statement read in part. "It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of The Iron Sheik, but we also take solace in knowing that he departed this world peacefully, leaving behind a legacy that will endure for generations to come."

The Iron Sheik got his start as a Greco-Roman wrestler, competing for Iran at the1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. He later served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 1972 Games in Munich. 

He made his WWF debut in 1979 and won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1983, becoming the only Iranian wrestler ever to do so.

His legendary rivalry with Hulk Hogan helped make Hogan one of the great pro wrestling heroes of the 1980s, and his tag team pairing with Nikolai Volkoff won the WWF Tag Team Championship at the inaugural WrestleMania event in 1985.

In 2005, The Iron Sheik was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He is survived by two daughters and five grandchildren.