The WWE Hall of Famer died on Wednesday aged 81, and his rivalry with Hogan – including the latter’s WWE Championship win over Sheik at Madison Square Garden in January 1984 – lighting the spark for Hulkamania and changing the face of the industry.
His impact can’t be denied, and now Hogan has paid tribute to him in a touching statement on Facebook.
On Thursday night, he wrote: ‘Today, we honor the legacy of a wrestling icon. Rest in peace, Iron Sheikh.
‘The wrestling world has lost a true legend, and Sheikh’s contributions to our industry will never be forgotten.
‘I’ll always cherish the battles we had in the ring. Our matches were intense, and our rivalry was legendary. We shared a bond that only fellow wrestlers can understand.
‘Iron Sheikh’s unique charisma, undeniable talent, and unforgettable personality made him an unforgettable figure in the hearts of wrestling fans worldwide. His legacy will continue to inspire generations of wrestlers to come.
‘Rest in peace, Iron Sheikh. You will always be remembered as a true warrior of the ring.’
Sheik, who was born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, previously opened up about their rivalry and iconic match, and was clear about his own involvement in Hogan’s rise to the top.
‘He was good. Hogan was a big man, he had a bodybuilder body and charisma. I had so much hate, people want to hurt me wherever I go,’ he recalled in an interview with Howard Finkel for WWE.com.
‘He win and make all his All-American fans happy. Since then he become Hulkamania, but everybody remember, without Iron Sheik, no Hulkamania.’
Sheik’s family confirmed the sad news of his death on Wednesday in a lengthy statement on his social media platforms, hailing him as a ‘force of nature’ and ‘true legend’.
The entire wrestling world is in mourning, and WWE boss Triple H, real name Paul Levesque, was among those to pay respect to the late icon.
He tweeted: ‘The legend. 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.’
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