More sad news today. Another wrestling legend has passed away. Ivan Koloff, a former WWE Champion, passed away at age 74. “The Russian Bear” debuted in 1961 and enjoyed tremendous success mostly in the National Wrestling Alliance, and the southern territories of Mid-Atlantic, Georgia, and Florida specifically.
It’s a real shame that he isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame. I’m sure he will be eventually, but too late.
On behalf of everyone at Vortex Effect, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Ivan Koloff.
WWE.com issued a statement on the passing:
WWE is saddened to learn that Ivan Koloff, best known to the WWE Universe as one of Bruno Sammartino’s most bitter rivals, has passed away at age 74.
Koloff, nicknamed “The Russian Bear,” quickly became a primary rival to one of the most beloved WWE Champions of all time, Bruno Sammartino. In an infamously memorable instance in WWE and Madison Square Garden history, Koloff crushed Sammartino’s throat with his knee by jumping off the top turnbuckle. This act on Jan. 18, 1971, allowed “The Russian Bear” to cover the WWE Hall of Famer and score an astonishing three-count to become WWE Champion, ending the Italian powerhouse’s record-setting seven-year title reign.
WWE extends its condolences to Ivan Koloff’s family, friends and fans.