Legendary 'Russian Bear' wrestler Ivan Koloff dies aged 74

He was 74 years old.

Ivan Koloff, a professional wrestler known as "The Russian Bear", died Saturday in North Carolina after suffering from liver cancer.

Koloff's life-long love of wrestling culminated in his 1967 debut as the heel, or scripted villain, wrestler "The Russian Bear" with the International Wrestling Association in Canada. He won arguably the most famous match of the 1970s, pinning the popular WWWF world champion Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden to win the title before a stunned capacity crowd on January 18, 1971. It was at the time the most shocking moment in pro wrestling history, and remains one of the most infamous moments in the decorated history of the iconic NY arena. Koloff played a villain for the majority of his career, creating rivalries with the likes of the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, The Rock "n" Roll Express, The Road Warriors and beyond. He was also a four-time NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion and a three-time NWA Television Champion.


The fierce grappler was honored with the Frank Gotch Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009.

Koloff's daughter, Rachel Marley, and the WWE confirmed the death.

Koloff's death comes just one day after George "The Animal" Steele died of kidney failure.

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