The Iron Sheik Has Died — What Happened to the WWE Legend?

WWE legend The Iron Sheik has died at 81. As tributes began pouring in for the WWE legend, here's what we know about his cause of death.

D.M. - Author
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Jun. 8 2023, Published 8:15 a.m. ET

The Iron Sheik at the Hilarity for Charity NYC Cocktail Party on April 8, 2014
Source: Getty Images

WWE legend Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri — famously known as The Iron Sheik — died on June 7, 2023, at 81 years old.

"Today, we gather with heavy hearts to bid farewell to a true legend, a force of nature, and an iconic figure who left an incredible mark on the world of professional wrestling,” read a statement posted to Twitter. The Iron Sheik rose to fame as one of one of WWE’s most notorious trash talkers, facing off in legendary matches against foes like Hulk Hogan and Bob Backlund.

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Because of The Iron Sheik’s undeniable impact on wrestling, it's easy to understand why some fans may be wondering what led to his passing. Here’s what we know about The Iron Sheik’s cause of death.

What was The Iron Sheik's cause of death?

The Iron Sheik at the 17th Annual ESPY Awards Celebration of Champions on July 14, 2009
Source: Getty Images

The Iron Sheik’s official cause of death has yet to be revealed. However, the former professional wrestler experienced a string of health issues during his life. He began using crack, cocaine, steroids, and other substances at the start of his wrestling career.

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According to Bleacher Report, the former professional wrestler stopped using drugs after his wife left him and gave him an ultimatum after a series of troubling incidents. "I could no longer beg him to quit," his wife Caryl said. "We had lost our daughter. We were all sad and depressed. But enough was enough.”

And while it’s unclear what caused The Iron Sheik’s death, he suffered a heart attack in 2005 shortly after a drug binge.

The Iron Sheik became a WWE legend over the course of his career.

The Iron Sheik’s introduction to professional wrestling came at a pivotal point in American history. In 1979, the Iran hostage crisis saw a group of Iranian militants storm the U.S. Embassy, taking 70 American hostages. The Iron Sheik capitalized on the growing political tension and would proudly wave an Iranian flag while taunting audiences with anti-American propaganda.

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 Iron Sheik backstage at Power 96.1's Jingle Ball 2013 at Philips Arena on Dec. 11, 2013
Source: Getty Images

Later, The Iron Sheik altered his wrestling persona and became Colonel Mustafa, joining Sergeant Slaughter (Robert Remus) and General Adnan (Adnan Al-Kaissie) as the Triangle of Terror. Following the end of his wrestling career, The Iron Sheik became a pop culture icon thanks to his chaotic appearances on The Howard Stern Show. During one episode, The Iron Sheik went on a profanity-laced rant about his nemesis Hulk Hogan. He was also very active on Twitter, where he had over 600,000 followers.

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Fans and fellow wrestlers remember and pay tribute to The Iron Sheik.

Following The Iron Sheik’s death, his fellow wrestlers took to social media to share touching tributes. Ric Flair shared a throwback photo of himself and The Iron Sheik, who he called a “dear friend.” Dwayne Johnson, who referred to the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler as “Uncle Sheiky,” shared a touching note about the late wrestler.

“Uncle Sheiky would come over to the house, and his wife would babysit me,” Dwayne said in a video posted to Instagram. “And I was about eight years old at that time, and I was a pain in the ass even then.” Dwayne revealed that the popular wrestling phrase “jabroni,” which he famously coined during his career as “The Rock,” came from a conversation he had with The Iron Sheik.

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