Obit: “Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff, former WWWF Champion and NWA Tag Team Champion, dead at 74 after battling cancer (w/Keller’s Analysis)

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

Ivan Koloff

Ivan Koloff, whose many career highlights including defeating Bruno Sammartino on January 18, 1971 in New York City at Madison Square Garden for the WWWF Championship and feuding with The Road Warriors in the Jim Crockett NWA territory with his storyline nephew Nikita Koloff, has succumbed to liver cancer. He was 74.

Koloff’s birth name was Oreal Perras. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and raised on a dairy farm with his siblings. He was diagnosed with liver cancer ten years ago. He began his career in 1961 and wrestled into the 1990s and remained active on the convention and autograph circuit up until recent months.

Keller’s Analysis: When I was a kid, I attended an NWA live event in Bloomington, Minn. at the old Met Sports Center. I was in the front row, and my mom took me to the event. Ivan, a Russian heel at the time, leaned over before his match and smiled and said, “You must be with someone else.” He recognized this probably wasn’t her scene. I’ll be talking with Bruce Mitchell about Ivan on the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show this weekend for VIP members

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