Wrestling legend Nikolai Volkoff passes away at 70 - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Wrestling legend Nikolai Volkoff passes away at 70

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Peruzovic’s in-ring career spanned more than 40 years. He rose to fame with WWE during the Cold War. (Source: WWE) Peruzovic’s in-ring career spanned more than 40 years. He rose to fame with WWE during the Cold War. (Source: WWE)

(RNN) - Josip Nikolai Peruzovic, better known as professional wrestling legend Nikolai Volkoff, passed away on Sunday at the age of 70.

He died just days after being released from a Maryland hospital where he was treated for dehydration and other ailments.

Peruzovic’s in-ring career spanned more than 40 years. He rose to fame with WWE during the Cold War.

The Volkoff character was a Soviet villain who would antagonize the crowd by spewing anti-American rhetoric and performing the national anthem of the Soviet Union.

He held WWE’s tag team championship with The Iron Sheik, another character known for antagonizing Americans. WWE inducted him into its hall of fame in 2005.

In the real world, Peruzovic became an American citizen in 1970. He was born on Oct. 14, 1947, in Croatia, which was then part of Yugoslavia.

WWE released the following statement on Peruzovic’s passing:

WWE is saddened to learn that Josip Nikolai Peruzovic, known to WWE fans as Nikolai Volkoff, has passed away at age 70.

Best known for his dastardly, WWE Tag Team Championship–winning union with The Iron Sheik, Volkoff’s in-ring career spanned the better part of 40 years, which featured battles against the likes of Sgt. Slaughter, Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino. As one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff’s infamous rendition of the Soviet National Anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe as a Superstar they truly loved to hate. Jim Ross inducted Volkoff into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2005.

WWE extends its condolences to Peruzovic’s family, friends and fans.

Paul "Triple H" Levesque, a semi-retired wrestler and executive with WWE, also remembered Peruzovic on Twitter.

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