Ivan Koloff Death – Liver Cancer

ivan koloff death

Wrestling legend Ivan Koloff, Dead at 74. photo: wwe.com

1942-2017 (age 74)

Wrestling legend Ivan Koloff has died at age 74.

The wrestling world has been dealt a number of blows over the last week, including the passing of George “The Animal” Steele on February 16th, and Nicole Bass just yesterday.

Chavo Guerrero Sr. died a week ago, February 11th, suffering from liver cancer – the same fate that would take Ivan Koloff.

The Russian Bear

In the midst of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, Koloff, nicknamed “The Russian Bear” garnered legitimate fear from audiences.

ivan koloff bruno sammartino

MSG, November 17, 1975: Ivan Koloff scoops Bruno Sammartino for the slam. photo: wwe.com

Before the days of social media, it was a lot easier for a guy from Canada to play a villainous heel from Russia. French Canadian tough guy Ivan Koloff played the role to the letter.

Koloff spent time in WWWF and NWA throughout the 70s and 80s.

Most notably, early in his career, Koloff won the WWWF championship – taking the gold from a babyfaced Bruno Sammartino in 1971. Bruno had held the belt for over seven years – the packed house at Madison Square Garden was stunned.

Koloff takes on Pat Patterson in a particularly brutal bout at the Philadelphia Spectrum. November, 1983

NWA 1986: Ivan and Nikita take on the Road Warriors

Despite major success during his run in the WWWF (now WWE), Ivan Koloff was never inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – though a posthumous induction could still take place in the future. Koloff was, however, inducted into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, located in Wichita Falls, TX. He received that honor in 2011.

Remembering Ivan Koloff

Many prominent names in the wrestling industry have Tweeted out about Ivan Koloff’s passing. Here’s a few: