World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star The Iron Sheik, known for his on-stage rivalry with Hulk Hogan, has died at the age of 81.
The Iranian-born professional wrestler, real name Khosrow Vaziri, won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship in 1983.
He rose to fame in the wrestling world, portraying a villainous character against Hogan, which helped to cement their names in wrestling history.
A statement posted to Twitter confirmed his death: “Today, we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend, a force of nature, and an iconic figure who left an incredible mark on the world of professional wrestling.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of The Iron Sheik, but we also take solace in knowing that he departed this world peacefully, leaving behind a legacy that will endure for generations to come.”
It did not offer any details of how Vaziri died.
He was described as a “devoted family man” having been married to his wife Caryl for 47 years.
The couple had three children, Tanya, Nikki and Marissa and five grandchildren.
Athletes and various famous faces paid tribute to the star, including 14-time world wrestling champion and chief content officer of WWE, Triple H.
He described Vaziri as a “legend”, adding: “An all-time great performer and WWE Hall of Famer who brought his character to life and transcended our business.
“My condolences to The Iron Sheik’s family, friends and fans.”
WWE said it was “saddened” to hear the news, extending condolences to his family, friends and fans.
After retiring from wrestling, Vaziri gained a large social media following, with 645,000 followers on Twitter alone.
His career was also the subject of a 2014 Apple TV documentary titled The Sheik, which explored how he started as a talented athlete from Iran who built his occupation in the US as a professional wrestler.