WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff dead at 70

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

Credit: George Napolitano

Credit: George Napolitano

Former professional wrestler Nikolai Volkoff, a Croatian native whose character depicted a sneering, sadistic heel from the Soviet Union, has died, World Wrestling Entertainment reported on its website Sunday. He was 70.

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Volkoff, whose real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzovic, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. He antagonized fans by saluting and singing the Soviet Union’s national anthem before matches.

Peruzovic was born in Yugoslavia in the Croatian city of Split on Oct. 14, 1947, and emigrated to Canada. He began his pro wrestling career in the late 1960s in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (later called the WWF and now known as the WWE).

He rocketed to fame as a tag team partner of the Iron Sheik and defeated Mike Rotondo and Barry Windham -- known as the U.S. Express -- for the WWF tag team title at Wrestlemania I at Madison Square Garden in March 1985, the New York Daily News reported.

Volkoff's wrestling career spanned five decades and he most recently appeared on WWE cards in 2014, ESPN reported.