Sad day for wrestling with the announcement, a few minutes ago, of the death of the legend Nikolai Volkoff at 70 years old. Volkoff has died in a hospital in Maryland, after being discharged a few days ago when he was admitted for dehydration.
Volkoff, born Josip Nikolai Peruzovic in Split, Croatia (then the former Yugoslavia), memorably represented an evil Bolshevik in a career that spanned just under three decades. Among his most outstanding successes, the WWE tag team championship along with the other foreign threat par excellence remembered in WWE, The Iron Sheik in the first WrestleMania in history.
After starting at Stump’s Stampede Wrestling, Volkoff got his first big break in the industry thanks to Vince McMahon Sr. at WWF. Paired with Newton ‘Geeto Mongol’ Tattrie, the duo won international tag team titles, before Bepo took a sabbatical from the company in 1971.
He returned to the company three years later, assuming the most famous nickname, that of Nikolai Volkoff, to match against the great champion Bruno Sammartino. The matches between Volkoff and Sammartino have been remembered as one of the best of that time.
After a brief stint in the Minnesota AWA, Volkoff made a second return to WWE, this time with the sickle and hammer firmly stamped like a communist. It was like the communist terror that Volkoff gained its greatest popularity, standing out in the first three WrestleMania.
The end of the Cold War made a change in his character as Volkoff made the transition to a babyface role for the first time in his career. His last years in WWE were accompanied by Ted DiBiase Sr. when he bought him as a bodyguard for his 1995 Million Dollar Corporation.
Volkoff has made several appearances on the independent scene until he retired in 2000. Then, he was a trainer and has made more appearances for WWE in special events where legends of the company appeared as the Raw Old School.