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Ivan Koloff dead; WWE wrestler known as ‘The Russian Bear’ was 74

WWE wrestler Ivan Koloff, who died on Feb.

WWE wrestler Ivan Koloff, who died on Feb. 18, 2017, at the age of 74, is pictured in this undated file photo. Photo Credit: AP / MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Ivan Koloff, the Canadian professional wrestler known as “The Russian Bear” in the ring, has died after fighting liver cancer. He was 74.

Koloff’s daughter, Rachel Marley, and the WWE confirmed the death.

“I’m sad to wake up and hear of the passing of my very close friend the Russian Bear Ivan Koloff,” former wrestler Ric Flair tweeted. “You will be missed My Friend. Rest in peace.”

Born in Montreal as Oreal Perras, Koloff was one of wrestling’s top villains in the 1970 and 1980s. In 1971, he pinned Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden to take the WWWF title.

Koloff later was an ordained minister in Greenville.

The death came the same week that former wrestler George “The Animal” Steele died at 79. — AP

New York Sports