Ivan Koloff

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Ivan Koloff
Ivan Koloff.jpg
Koloff in November 2011
Birth name Oreal Perras
Born (1942-08-25) August 25, 1942 (age 73)[1]
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Residence Winterville, North Carolina
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Ivan Koloff[1]
Jim Parris[2]
Orwell Paris
Red McNulty[1]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Billed weight 298 lb (135 kg)[1]
Billed from Moscow, Russia[1]
Trained by Jack Wentworth
Dan Koloff
Debut 1961[1]
Retired 1994[2]

"The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff (born Oreal Perras[3] on August 25, 1942)[1] is a Canadian former professional wrestler who once held the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Early life[edit]

Perras was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and raised on a dairy farm in rural Ontario along with his six brothers and three sisters.

Since first watching professional wrestling on TV at the age of eight, he wanted to become a wrestler, and would often wrestle with his brothers growing up. At age 18, he left high school and joined Jack Wentworth's wrestling school in Hamilton, Ontario, where he would lift weights and learn wrestling holds. Ivan stood 5' 7 1/2" tall, and weighed approximately 270 pounds. Towards the end of his career he dropped a considerable amount of weight and was tipping the scale at 205 pounds.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Perras debuted as an Irish rogue heel character named Red McNulty, billed from Dublin, Ireland and wrestling with an eyepatch.[1] For the next three years, he wrestled around the Toronto area, eventually quitting his regular job to wrestle in the north-western area of Canada. There, Perras acquired much wrestling experience, and from there he made his first trip to Japan.

The Russian Bear[edit]

In 1967, Perras became "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff, a bearded villainous character billed from the Ukraine, and debuted with the International Wrestling Association in Montreal, Québec. He defeated Johnny Rougeau for the IWA International Heavyweight Title the following year. Ivan Koloff debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in late 1969, managed by Capt. Lou Albano.[4] He soon started a feud with then-WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino. On January 18, 1971, "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff defeated Sammartino in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after a kneedrop from the top rope, ending Sammartino's seven and two-third years reign on top. Koloff lost the title only 21 days later to Pedro Morales, essentially being used as a "transitional" champion (as he was used to move the title from Sammartino to Morales without having the two faces work against each other), much like Stan Stasiak and The Iron Sheik would be in later years. After the loss, Koloff remained a contender for the title, but never reclaimed it, and left the WWWF in 1971.

During his time in the WWWF, Ivan Koloff wrestled WWWF title matches against Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund, holding the distinction, with fellow villain Stan Stasiak, as one of only two men to challenge all four of these popular champions. Koloff would also be the first opponent to ever challenge for the WWWF title in a cage match in a rematch loss against Bruno Sammartino. He fought in the WWWF from 1975–76, 1978–79 and 1983.

During the 1970s and 80s, Koloff found success in the NWA, winning many regional tag and singles titles in the Georgia, Florida, and Mid-Atlantic territories. In February 1981, he teamed with Ray Stevens to defeat Paul Jones and Masked Superstar to capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship. This would be the first of his four reigns as a World Tag Team champion, later winning the belts with Don Kernodle and twice with his "nephew" (kayfabe), Nikita Koloff as The Russians.

The Russians (which also included Krusher Kruschev) were a top heel stable from 1984 to 1986, and Nikita, under Perras' training and mentoring, and by association, became a hated heel in his own right, and would go on to have a successful singles career of his own. After Nikita turned face on Ivan to join their enemy Dusty Rhodes in 1986, Ivan teamed with Vladimir Petrov and Dick Murdoch to get revenge. Ivan Koloff's biggest NWA feuds were against Rhodes, The Road Warriors, The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Magnum T.A..

Koloff spent time in Paul Jones' stable, the Paul Jones Army in 1988, where he was a "coach" of sorts for The Powers of Pain, The Barbarian and The Warlord. He later split with Jones, reunited with Nikita, and feuded with Jones' team, the Russian Assassins, before leaving Jim Crockett Promotions in January 1989. He also spent time in Eastern Championship Wrestling,[4] appearing on the very first ECW card in 1992. In 1992, Koloff also wrestled in the first television main event of Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling, beating Bobby Fulton.


Currently, Perras lives in Winterville, North Carolina with his wife, Renae and has four adult children. He remains active in various charities. He has written a book, titled Is That Wrestling Fake? The Bear Facts. Perras became a born again Christian[1] in 1995. He travels to churches to share his testimony,[1] and is an ordained minister. Koloff spoke openly and candidly of his conversion to Christianity and struggles with alcohol and drugs and the crazy days of wrestling in the recent book, "Life in the Trenches." [5]

Perras was named as a defendant in a 2015 lawsuit filed by WWE after they received a letter from him indicating that he intended to sue them for concussion-based injuries sustained during his tenure with them. He is represented by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who is involved in several other lawsuits involving former WWE wrestlers.[6]

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Video games[edit]

Koloff is featured in:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Solomon, Brian (2006). WWE Legends. Pocket Books. pp. 155–158. ISBN 978-0-7434-9033-7. 
  2. ^ a b c "Ivan Koloff's profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  3. ^ Mooneyham, Mike (2007-06-10). "'Evil Russian' softens, looks back on career". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  4. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0. 
  5. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Life-Trenches-Brian-DAmbrosio-ebook/dp/B00MYHM74Y/ref=la_B008FVAIOO_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420000009&sr=1-2
  6. ^ "WWE seeking to block concussion-related lawsuits". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 1, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  8. ^ Matt Mackinder (January 17, 2008). "Sir Oliver Humperdink recalls career of yesteryear". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  9. ^ "House of Humperdink". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  11. ^ "Lawler, McMahon, Road Warriors among PWHF Class of 2011". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2010-11-28. 
  12. ^ Southern Championship Wrestling (2002). "SCW Hall of Fame". SCW Superstars. SCWprowrestling.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2002. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ Meltzer, Dave (November 9, 2015). "November 9, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2015 Hall of Fame Issue". Wrestling Observer Newsletter (Campbell, California): 1. ISSN 1083-9593. 

External links[edit]