The former pro wrestler known for entertaining audiences by playing beloved villain Nikolai Volkoff has died. Josip Peruzovic was 70.
His wife Lynn Peruzovic confirmed his death Sunday.
She said he had heart problems, and that when she went to give him medicine he was not responsive.
World Wrestling Entertainment said in a statement that Peruzovic was “one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen.”
He was known for singing the onetime Soviet Union’s national anthem before matches, and for his tag team alliance with another wrestler known as The Iron Sheik.
WWE said his career spanned the better part of 40 years, and featured showdowns with wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan.
Peruzovic, who was Croatian, but portrayed a Russian, was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2005, TMZ reported.
In 2006, Peruzovic made an unsuccessful run for a House seat in the Maryland General Assembly.
The Associated Pres contributed to this report.