WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff -- real name Josip Nikolai Peruzovic -- has died, WWE announced Sunday. He was 70.
Peruzovic's wife, Lynn, said Sunday that he has had heart problems and that when she went to give him medicine he was not responsive.
Peruzovic, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, was best known in the world of professional wrestling for his over-the-top Soviet/Russian character during his time in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (later the WWF) in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s. In reality, Peruzovic was born in what was then Yugoslavia and now stands as part of Croatia.
Peruzovic's most famous run came as part of the then-WWF's explosion in popularity in the mid-1980s, as he teamed with the Iron Sheik to form one of the most successful heel teams in the history of pro wrestling while being managed by the legendary "Classy" Freddie Blassie. He famously sang the Soviet Union's national anthem while the Iron Sheik taunted and stoked the anger of crowds around the world by playing upon real-life conflicts.
The Iron Sheik and Volkoff won the WWF tag team championship at the first WrestleMania in March 1985.
MY BEST FRIEND. MY PARTNER. MY BROTHER. WE GET MORE HEAT THAN ANYONE ON EARTH. I TRUST HIM WITH MY LIFE. HE TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I WAS DOWN. I MISS YOU FOREVER 💔 pic.twitter.com/pp7ZgQRDnb— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) July 29, 2018
Over the course of five decades, Peruzovic found himself opposite icons such as Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino and made sporadic appearances in WWE as recently as 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.