Nikolai Volkoff, the WWE hall of famer whose real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzovi, is dead at the relatively young age of 70. The news broke of Volkoff’s death on July 29, 2018.
WWE has confirmed his death, writing, “WWE is saddened to learn that Josip Nikolai Peruzović, known to WWE fans as Nikolai Volkoff, has passed away at age 70.”
That has a lot of fans wondering: What was Nikolai Volkoff’s cause of death? How did the wrestling star die? Here’s what’s known thus far:
Although a formal cause of death has yet to be announced, Volkoff had been in the hospital in Maryland for several days for “dehydration,” along with other issues that were not specified, according to WrestlingInc.com. It’s not yet clear what caused the dehydration, however. According to CageSide Seats, “…he was just released from a hospital in Maryland where he was being treated for dehydration and other issues.”
He leaves behind a wife. Volkoff was married to Eleanor Lynn Peruzovic.
Here’s what you need to know:
Volkoff Was Born in Croatia
PWInsider, which also confirmed news of Volkoff’s death, reports that his real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzovi. Some people thought Volkoff was actually Russian because he played Russian characters in the ring, but he wasn’t. According to PWInsider, he was actually from Croatia.
The site reports that he started out as a member of Yugoslavia’s weightlifting team before moving to Canada and becoming a professional wrestler.
According to The Wrap, Volkoff was best known as “the evil Russian who teamed up with The Iron Sheik to become a World Tag Team Champion.” Wrote WWE, “Best known for his dastardly, WWE Tag Team Championship–winning union with The Iron Sheik, Volkoff’s in-ring career spanned the better part of 40 years, which featured battles against the likes of Sgt. Slaughter, Hulk Hogan and Bruno Sammartino. As one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff’s infamous rendition of the Soviet National Anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe as a Superstar they truly loved to hate. Jim Ross inducted Volkoff into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2005.”
According to IMDB, his notable titles included: “WWWF International Tag Team titles as Beppo Mongol with Geeto Mongol; NWA (Detroit) World Tag Team titles with Boris Volkoff; NWA (Georgia) Heavyweight title; NWA (Florida) Tag Team titles with Ivan Koloff; NWA (Mid-Atlantic) Tag Team titles with Chris Markoff; Mid-South Wrestling North American Heavyweight title; WWF Tag Team titles with Iron Sheik.”
Other Wrestlers Offered Tributes to Volkoff After His Death
As news of his death spread, other wrestlers offered tributes on social media. “MY BEST FRIEND,” the Iron Sheik, real name Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, tweeted. “MY PARTNER. MY BROTHER. WE GET MORE HEAT THAN ANYONE ON EARTH. I TRUST HIM WITH MY LIFE. HE TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I WAS DOWN. I MISS YOU FOREVER ??'”
James Ellsworth tweeted, “I did many road trips with Nikolai Volkoff. As we only lived 15 minutes from each other. I learned so much from him. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I’ll miss him dearly #RIPNikolaiVolkoff.”
Tommy Dreamer wrote, “Sad to hear the passing of @WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff Celebrate his life Watch his greatness on @WWENetwork and all please rise as he sings the Russian National Anthem.”
Natalya Neidhart wrote, “always loved our conversations backstage … Nikolai Volkoff was so special to my dad and the entire Hart family. We will miss you, Nikolai. My thoughts and condolences go out to Nikolai’s family. ?”
IMDB reports that Volkoff was filming the movie “Wrestlemassacre,” at the time of his death.