Ivan Koloff vs Angelo Mosca Jr.
Toronto Sun files
: Ivan Koloff
: August 25, 1942 in Ontario
5'9 1/2'', 206 to 300 pounds
Red McNulty, The Russian Bear
Though Ivan Koloff was born in Russian, he was raised in Canada and got his
pro wrestling career started in the Great White North. He came to Canada at
and though he lives in North Carolina now, Koloff still deserves inclusion
Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Koloff's pro career started in February 1965, after receiving training from
former British Empire champion Jack Wentworth. After a few years part-time in
Canada (including participating on Johnny Rougeau
's wrestler's charity hockey team), Koloff set off for the United States. In St. Louis he had a huge
He joined the WWWF in 1970, and was soon after managed by Captain Lou
Albano. The next step was the WWWF World title, which he won on January 18,
from Bruno Sammartino and lost it February 8, 1971 to Pedro Morales.
Later, Koloff developed into a tag team wrestler, and held the NWA World tag
titles on a five occasions, and four different partners (Ray Stevens, Don
Koloff (twice, not related), and Manny Fernandez.
Ontario fans will also remember Koloff's bloody feud with Angelo Mosca
the Canadian heavyweight title.
For a time, Koloff ran a wrestling school. He retired from wrestling in
Stories & Links
May 22, 2011: Road Warriors, Koloff, Robinson enshrined in PWHF
Nov. 27, 2010: Koloff, Road Warriors, Sheik, Bruiser, Lawler headline PWHF Class of 2011
Feb. 23, 2007: Not
a lot of dirt in Sammartino & Koloff bios
Feb. 11, 2007: The
Russian Bear got his start in Ottawa Valley
Jan. 5, 2007: Ivan
Koloff "bears" all in new autobiography
I wasn't born at the time, but everybody knows one thing for sure!!!
This guy did what no other wrestler could do, and that is beat Bruno
Sarmontinno, and I am sorry if that is spelled wrong. In reality, Ivan
was the nicest guy in the world, and I feel that he is one of wrestling
I remember seeing Ivan in Huntington, W.Va. as he accompanied Nikita to
a match with Magnum T.A. I was in the front row and shouted for Ivan and
Nikita to go back to Russia. At that instant Ivan turned to me and told
me to shut my mouth. Later in the match Ivan interfered in the match
and as I shouted to the referee he threatened to shut me up with his
fist. The day after the matches I came down with the Chickenpox. I
still believe that I received them from the "Russian Bear".
Eric Horsley, McDermott, OH
I remember having front row seats with my diehard wrestling buddy Bob
Weaver at one of the first Starcades . It was held in Pittsburgh at the
convention center (the only time). We had seat numbers 1 and 2, the best
seats in the house. Ivan and Nikita Koloff were wrestling tag team and thier
corner was about 5 feet from me....I let him have it, every time he said
something I mimicked him and put on the Russian accent hevier than him, I have
heckeled wrestlers before but he looked ready to go bananas and was screaming
at me. We were howling ! I also had met him before that in an airport and he
talked to me for a while, actually a nice guy.
I remember as a kid back in the seventies, looking up "wrestling" in my
family encyclopedia, and seeing a magnificent picture of
the burly Koloff flying off of the top rope with his big kneedrop onto the
helpless Bruno Sammartino, thus ending Bruno's 8 year reign as champ. Back
then, the Champ never wrestled on TV, and I remember how in awe I was of
Koloff for being able to beat the Living Legend, who was too good to be seen
on the tube. After that, I always got worried when Koloff made his way back
to the WWWF, as Bruno was my favorite and I knew Koloff was the one guy who
could beat him. A true legend in his own right.
I remember being at one match in New York in 1969, and I saw
Ivan wrestle and I was in the front row that night. I was telling him
to go back to Russia and it looked like he was going to hit me. After the
card I got to meet him, and he talked with me for thirty minutes it was
amazing how much of a nice man he is I will never forget that about him.
I will remember when I first started watching wrestling and seeing the
Koloffs for the first time. It shocked me how a guy like Ivan could
literally decimate men half his age and still dish it out. Even when
everyone was booing him and Nikita I would always cheer because when it
came to wrestling savvy, Ivan has it all.
Ivan was one of the great cold war Russian wrestlers. I always enjoyed
it when he would come to NY and stay in the WWF for a few months. I never
understood however, why when he would come to the ring, he would always
be wearing the Russian hat. It may have been 98 degrees in the middle of
July but he would always be wearing that hat.
I have a lot of great and fond memories of Ivan Koloff.....but the most
fond memory I have of Ivan, was when he was wrestling the Iron Shiek in Charleston, South Carolina on 26 Dec 1980 . Friday nite....him and the Iron Shiek gave it their all in front of only
eighty  people because of a bad ice storm....he won the match he
had some great battles with a lot of great wrestlers in the 70's and 80's...I
wish him a long and happy and safe retirement you really brought
joy to my heart.
Feb. 13, 1999. I was picking up a few things at a local store. An anouncement came over the speaker that 'Ivan Koloff ... pro- wrestler... in the store to sign
autographs'. Well, I put off getting the cold stuff and met 'The Russian Bear', even got my picture taken with him. (Prceeds going to a childrens
foundation) He was wonderful to talk with. His wife was with him, and they were also selling thier daughters tape 'On wings of love'. I've looked
up info on the wrestler with this web page and he was awful!!! But that's what some people pay for and in pro-wrestling it's what's expected.
Thank you to Mr. Koloff for being a WONDERFUL human being.
ASP in N.C. (and we share a state now two ! sooo cool !! :-))
Like the person from N.C., I also met Koloff when he was doing an
autograph session in Va. in 1996. He was a very nice man, totally unlike
his in-ring persona. He certainly entertained me during his days in the
Mid-Atlantic area and later when Crockett controlled the NWA. A true
My memory of Ivan Koloff was that he beat Bruno Sammartino at the first live
match at Madison Square Garden that I had ever seen. I remember the stunned
silence when he landed his knee drop from the top rope and pinned him. I was
lucky to have even been in the seat, sitting next to my mom, cause I was only
12 at the time. New York had many rules back then that many people today
would not have believed possible. The main one, as far as I was concerned at
the time, was that you had to be 14 to attend a live wrestling event. That
night, a ticket taker refused to believe that I was old enough and turned my
mother and I away. We went down a few gates and tried going in through
another door. The man there took my ticket and let me go in. Little did I
know that I was going to see history that night. I still have the program.
The night's matches were printed right on the program instead of the cheap
paper inserts you get today. I also remember that, after Bruno lost, a young
Pedro Morales fought on the same card and defeated the late Canadian Wolfman.
Ivan....he made memories for me on that night....though thay weren't
pleasent ones at the time. The Living Legend had lost.
In 1990 I began my career in wrestling as a referee. i grew up a
diehard fan. Now I was able to fullfill my dreams and be a part of this
One day a promoter I was working for called to book me on a series of
shows. I asked who else would be on tour and he told me. The "name"
for this tour was none other than Ivan Koloff. I then made the comment
that Ivan was my worst nightmare growing up. Actually I was a little
intimidated to meet and work with him. After all I had heard some
stories from other workers that did not paint a good picture of him.
On the first night of the show I was in the dressing room assigned to me
and there was an additional chair and table, someone else was to be
sharing this space. No problem as I knew several of the workers
scheduled to be there.
About an hour before bell time Ivan Koloff walks in to the room and
says, "Hi Mark Welcome to your nightmare!" The promoter had told him!
To make a long story short, Ivan and I became good friends and traveled
the same circuit for quite awhile until his retirement. He is truly a
living legend and inspiration.
Mark Wood, West Virginia
My memories of Ivan Koloff date from the mid to late 60's and early 70's when
he was quite active on the local Quebec wrestling circuit. He had a long
running feud with Johnny Rougeau which was regularly played out in Montreal,
Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Three Rivers. His big "move" was the back
breaker, where he hoisted his opponent face up, onto his right shoulder. This
caused the opponents head and feet to droop to the floor causing great pain.
This was only briefly tolerated until the poor opponent in agony "gave in".
I went to Harrisburg, PA. with my Dad when I was a teenager, and sneaked in the hall to the dressing rooms to try to get a peek or autograph of a wrestler. Ivan approached me with a buck and asked me to get him a coke, and one for me as well. He was so gentle and friendly. BIG too, although not very tall. What an experience. WOW. To the good old days of real pro wrestling!!
Say what you will about Ivan Koloff, but here is one man who has met him face
to face and can paint a good picture about the WCW`s mean Russian Bear.
I live in the south eastern part of Virginia, and met the burly former
wrestler in the summer of `98. He was in Norfolk donating time and his
autograph for The Children`s Miracle Network. So many thoughts hit me at
once that I was at first afraid to approach him, as I grew up with a more
than healthy respect for what he could do to a grown man half his age.
A year and some odd months later, I ran into him again, this time I recieved
an added bonus for braving to face the Bear. Not only did he autigraph a
picture for my girlfriend`s handicapped children, he also talked to me in an
amazingly soft voice about his days in the sport, charities and programs he
is envolved with, and his nephew Nikita.
His character in the WCW before his retirement in September of `94 belies his
gentle, real-life spirit.
Bear in Chesapeake, Va.
I was a true blue Sammartino fan. But everytime Koloff stepped into the ring,
I would say, "Well, If he can pin Sammartino, who can't he pin?" Ivan always
carried the halo of his greatest victory ever, back in 1971, over his head
when he entered the ring. Who will ever forget?
I can remember meeting him in 1994 at an autograph session in my hometown of Kannapolis, N.C. I shook his hand and got his autograph.That was when I was sixteen. I ran into him at an independent show in Jacksonville,N.C. after I had started my own wrestling career, and he remembered my name and where he met me down to the store he was signing in and the year it was inn The man is a truly nice man and when he says he never forgets a face, you can believe it.
David Brock, Kannapolis,N.C.
I have lots of memories of Ivan Koloff. I saw him wrestle in person on many occassions at the Charleston Civic Center in
Charleston West Virginia on many occassions. This was a trimmed down version of the former WWWF champion but he
was still a powerhouse and in great shape. He was usually squaring off against Paul (before he was wonderful) Orndorff
or the great Dick Murdoch. My fondest memories of Koloff were when I first started watching Georgia Championship
Wrestling on superstation channel 17 from Georgia. Koloff was ruling and terrorizing the area with his tag team partner
Ole Anderson. They held the Georgia tag team titles and had so much heat I thought that every fan wanted to kill them.
Their biggest program, that went on for years and years with Ole (as a Horseman ) and Dusty Rhodes, was when they
were scheduled to face Jack Brisco and Mr. Wrestling II (the great Johnny 'Rubberman' Walker) in a tag match for the
Georgia titles. Ole was blustering and bragging until Gordon Solie told him that there was a special referee being sent by
the NWA to ref the match. Ole still bragging with Koloff said it didn't matter who the NWA sent. Then Dusty Rhodes
appeared and all hell broke loose. Ole lost it!!! The night of the match the crowed was abuzz. They showed a 16mm film
as they use to in those days with Solie doing the voice over. The crowd and the two teams waited and waited. Then
through the crowd comes Dusty beaten and bloody crawling to the ring. This sparked off one of the greatest and
longest feuds in wrestling history. Koloff and Anderson were phenomenal heels. Their reign of terror in Georgia is
somewhat forgotten. Most people remember the Ivan Koloff and Alexis Smirnoff team and the match against Kevin
Sullivan and Tony Atlas (with Rock Hunter putting the drugged up towel over Atlas' face for the win) but I say Koloff and
Anderson were the greatest tag team I ever saw and as Dusty said back then, " Until you have a broken back. Until you
have a broken neck! Both of you, this thing will never be over!!!!" P.s. I'll leave it up to you as to who beat Dusty with a
lead pipe in the parking lot of the Omni before that match. lol
John Mozuke, grouchoM@peoplepc.com
Ivan Koloff, IMHO, is one of the nicest people outside the ring. I have spoken to him several times at local wrestling shows. My earliest
memories of him are from the Georgia Championship Wrestling days. Not everybody knows this, but Ivan is also a born-again Christian. I
have two autographs, and he always adds "John 3:16" to his autographs (one of the autographs is from a picture he took with me). BTW he
can still rile up a crowd.
Barry L. Laws, Jr.