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Ivan Koloff (born Oreal Donald Perras; August 25, 1942 – February 18, 2017) was a Canadian professional wrestler, best known for once holding the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship.[1][5][2][6] He was known as "The Russian Bear".

Ivan Koloff
Ivan Koloff.jpg
Koloff in November 2011
Birth nameOreal Donald Perras[1]
Born(1942-08-25)August 25, 1942[2][1]
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedFebruary 18, 2017(2017-02-18) (aged 74)
Winterville, North Carolina, United States[1]
Cause of deathLiver cancer
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Ivan Koloff[2][1]
Jim Parris[3]
Orwell Paris
Red McNulty[2]
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[4]
Billed weight298 lb (135 kg)[4]
Billed fromMoscow, Russia[4]
Trained byJack Wentworth
Dan Koloff
Debut1961[2][1]
Retired1994[3]

Early lifeEdit

Perras was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and raised on a dairy farm in rural Ontario along with his six brothers and three sisters.

Since first watching professional wrestling on TV at the age of eight, he wanted to become a wrestler, and would often wrestle with his brothers growing up. At age 18, he left high school and joined Jack Wentworth's wrestling school in Hamilton, Ontario, where he would lift weights and learn wrestling holds. He stood 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall, and weighed approximately 270 pounds (120 kg). Towards the end of his career, he dropped a considerable amount of weight and was tipping the scale at 205 pounds (93 kg).

Professional wrestling careerEdit

Early career (1961-1967)Edit

Perras debuted as an Irish rogue villain character named Red McNulty, billed from Dublin, Ireland and wrestling with an eyepatch.[2] For the next three years, he wrestled around the Toronto area, eventually quitting his regular job to wrestle in the north-western area of Canada. There, Perras acquired much wrestling experience, and from there he made his first trip to Japan.

The Russian Bear (1967-1994)Edit

In 1967, Perras became "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff, a bearded villainous character billed from Ukraine, and debuted with the International Wrestling Association in Montreal, Québec. He defeated Johnny Rougeau for the IWA International Heavyweight Championship the following year. Koloff debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in late 1969, managed by "Captain" Lou Albano.[7] He soon started a rivalry with then-WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino. On January 18, 1971, Koloff defeated Sammartino in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after a knee drop from the top rope, ending Sammartino's seven and two-third years reign. Koloff lost the championship 21 days later to Pedro Morales, essentially being used as a "transitional champion" (as he was used to move the title from Sammartino to Morales without having the two fan favorites work against each other), much like Stan Stasiak and The Iron Sheik would be in later years. After the loss, Koloff remained a contender for the title but never reclaimed it, leaving the WWWF in 1971.

During his time in the WWWF, Koloff weighing in at 310 pounds (140 kg) wrestled WWWF World Heavyweight Championship title matches against Sammartino, Morales, Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund, holding the distinction, with fellow villain Stan Stasiak, as one of only two men to challenge all four of these fan favorite champions. Koloff would also be the first opponent to ever challenge for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship in a steel cage match in a rematch loss against Sammartino. He fought in the WWWF from 1975–1976, 1978–1979 and 1983.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Koloff found success in the National Wrestling Alliance, winning many regional tag team and singles titles in the Georgia, Florida, and Mid-Atlantic territories. In February 1981, he teamed with Ray Stevens to defeat Paul Jones and Masked Superstar to capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship. This would be the first of his four reigns as NWA World Tag Team Champion, later winning the belts with Don Kernodle and twice with his "nephew" (kayfabe), Nikita Koloff as "The Russians".

The Russians (which also included Krusher Kruschev) were a top villainous group from 1984 to 1986, and Nikita, under Perras' training and mentoring, and by association, became a hated villain in his own right, and would go on to have a successful singles career of his own. After Nikita turned on Ivan to join their enemy Dusty Rhodes in 1986, the latter teamed with Vladimir Petrov and Dick Murdoch to get revenge. Koloff's biggest NWA feuds were against Rhodes, The Road Warriors, The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Magnum T.A..

In 1988, Koloff spent time in Paul Jones' faction, The Paul Jones Army, where he was a "coach" of sorts for The Powers of Pain, The Barbarian and The Warlord. He later split with Jones, reunited with Nikita, and feuded with Jones' team, The Russian Assassins, before leaving Jim Crockett Promotions in January 1989. In 1992, Koloff also wrestled in the first television main event of Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling, beating Bobby Fulton. He lost to Ron Garvin at Tim Horner's National Championship Wrestling on July 22, 1994. He retired afterwards.

Extreme Championship Wrestling (1992-1993)Edit

He also spent time in Eastern Championship Wrestling,[7] appearing on the very first ECW card in 1992. He defeated The Sandman on ECW Hardcore TV on May 15, 1993. Began teaming with Vladimir Koloff.

Return to Wrestling (2004-2013)Edit

In 2004 Koloff returned to the ring for the first time in 10 years. He wrestled in the independent circuit.

On August 27, 2005 Koloff defeated Dominic DeNucci in a Russian chain match at WrestleReunion.

Koloff would win his final wrestling title defeating The Barbarian in a Russian chain match for the Legends title at NWA Charlotte.

On July 19, 2013 Koloff lost Shane Douglas in a Extreme Rules match at Mega Pro.

His final match was against Bob Armstrong in which Armstrong won on November 16, 2013 at Superstars of Wrestling 1 in Rome, Georgia.

Personal life and deathEdit

Perras wrote a book titled Is That Wrestling Fake? The Bear Facts that was released on January 1, 2007. He became a born again Christian in 1995 and traveled to churches to share his testimony as an ordained minister.[2] Koloff spoke openly and candidly of his conversion to Christianity and struggles with alcohol and drugs and the crazy days of wrestling in the recent book, Life in the Trenches.[8]

Perras was named as a defendant in a 2015 lawsuit filed by WWE after they received a letter from him indicating that he intended to sue them for concussion-based injuries sustained during his tenure with them. He was represented by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who is involved in several other lawsuits involving former WWE wrestlers. The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2018.[9]

Koloff died at his home in Winterville, North Carolina, on February 18, 2017 from liver cancer.[10]

Other mediaEdit

Koloff is featured as a playable character in the video games Legends of Wrestling, Legends of Wrestling II and Showdown: Legends of Wrestling.

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Chad Bonham (2001). Wrestling with God. David C Cook. p. 197. ISBN 978-1-58919-935-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Solomon, Brian (2006). WWE Legends. Pocket Books. pp. 155–158. ISBN 978-0-7434-9033-7.
  3. ^ a b "Ivan Koloff's profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Ivan Koloff bio". WWE. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Mooneyham, Mike (June 10, 2007). "'Evil Russian' softens, looks back on career". The Post and Courier. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Legendary 'Russian Bear' wrestler Ivan Koloff dies aged 74". Dailystar.co.uk. February 18, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  8. ^ D'Ambrosio, Brian (August 21, 2014). Life in the Trenches. Anthony Zuccarini. Firefly Books.
  9. ^ "WWE seeking to block concussion-related lawsuits". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 1, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Shanley, Patrick (February 18, 2017). "Ivan "The Russian Bear" Koloff, Professional Wrestler, Dies at 74". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  12. ^ Johnson, Mike (June 30, 2009). "Ricky Steamboat, Nick Bockinkel Among 2009 Class Honored By Wrestling Museum & Institute". PWInsider. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  13. ^ [1] Prowrestlinghistory.com Retrieved July 19, 2019
  14. ^ "Lawler, McMahon, Road Warriors among PWHF Class of 2011". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. November 26, 2010. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
  15. ^ Southern Championship Wrestling (2002). "SCW Hall of Fame". SCW Superstars. SCWprowrestling.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2002. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Meltzer, Dave (November 9, 2015). "November 9, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2015 Hall of Fame Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 1. ISSN 1083-9593.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit