Professional wrestling legend Ivan Koloff, whose real name was Oreal Perras, has died from liver disease aged 74, Joinfo.com reports with reference to Bleacher Report.
Longtime wrestling stalwart Ric Flair shared his thoughts on Twitter:
I’m Sad To Wake Up And Hear of the passing of my very close friend the Russian Bear Ivan Koloff. You will be missed My Friend. Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/nziKZ2Zqy4
— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) 18 февраля 2017 г.
Brian G. James, formerly known as Road Dogg and a current WWE producer, also reacted to the news:
Ivan Koloff taught me a lot in North Carolina in the early 90’s. He was patient and kind. Thank you sir and #RIPIvanKoloff You’ll be missed. https://t.co/ApKX7iEpMq — Brian G. James (@WWERoadDogg) 18 февраля 2017 г.
Hulk Hogan relayed his condolences as well:
RIP Ivan Koloff,it’s been a tough week,Chavo,Nicole Bass,George Steel,Ivan and Marty Prince,I would feel helpless if not for my faith1loveHH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) 18 февраля 2017 г.
“The Russian Bear” was an active member of the wrestling community for more than three decades, including a stint as the WWWF world heavyweight champion.
The Montreal native was best known for his feud with fellow legend Bruno Sammartino, the longest-reigning champion in WWE history. Sammartino held the title for more than seven years before Koloff ended the streak at Madison Square Garden in 1971.
Koloff captured numerous championships during his time in other promotions, including a bevy of NWA tag team titles.
The fierce grappler was honored with the Frank Gotch Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009. He was also selected for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2015.
Koloff’s death marked the second high-profile loss for the wrestling community in as many days. On Friday, WWE announced the passing of George “The Animal” Steele at age 79.