Pitt County resident and WWE champion Ivan Koloff has died at the age of 74.

NEW YORK, NY (CBS SPORTS) -Former WWE champion Ivan Koloff has died following a battle with liver cancer. He was 74.

WWE confirmed the news on Saturday via Twitter.

Known as “The Russian Bear,” Koloff (Oreal Perras) was one of the top main-event villains in pro wrestling throughout the 1970 and 1980s. He won arguably the most famous match of the 1970s, pinning the popular WWWF world champion Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden to win the title before a stunned capacity crowd on Jan. 18, 1971. Koloff lost the title to Pedro Morales three weeks later.

While Koloff remained a main-event star, he was so legitimately despised by fans that his hasty departure from the WWWF in March of 1971 was reportedly out of safety fears due to irate fans.

Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Koloff debuted in 1961, settling on the Irish character of “Red McNulty” early on. He began performing as Russian villain Koloff in 1967 and spent the next three decades wrestling all over the world as a top heel.

In the 1980s, Koloff played a key role in the NWA Mid-Atlantic territory, which was run by promoter Jim Crockett and would eventually become World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In the mid-80s, he teamed with “nephew” Nikita Koloff (Scott Simpson) and Krusher Khruschev (Barry Darsow, the future Demolition Smash) as a three-man Russian team that feuded memorably with the Road Warriors and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.

According to Koloff’s official website he and his wife reside in Greenville.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s