Wrestling legend Iron Sheik sounds off on that ‘no good Jabroni’ Rob Ford on the eve of his Hot Docs premiere
A few short years ago, WWF (now WWE) wrestling legend and former world champion Iron Sheik was one of a long list of permanently injured and drug addicted former professional wrestlers. His real name is Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri and he is the subject of a moving documentary entitled The Sheik, which is set to premiere at the Hot Docs Film Festival on Saturday night.
The Sheik had one very powerful thing in his corner that allowed him to, basically, avoid the fate of many of his peers: his family. That, and the love and respect of Toronto’s entertainment dynamos Jian and Page Magen. The Magen boys idolized the Iron Sheik, and when they found out he needed money and, more importantly, help, they jumped to it. Now, the Sheik has undergone an amazing pop culture renaissance thanks to some clever social media work from the Magen Boys. We reached the Iron Sheik over the phone with Page Magen helping to translate when needed.
So, what got you interested in wrestling as a kid growing up in Iran?
Iron Sheik: Number one sport in Iran, Greco roman freestyle. I love my business, younger generation love wrestling. Come to Iran, make to be champion of Olympics, bodyguard of the Shaw.
Magen: Like Canada has hockey, Iran has wrestling. It’s the sport everyone was to be successful in.
The movie isn’t what I expected — you’ve had a pretty tragic turn in your life. What caused your drug addiction?
Toughest sport in the world is pro wrestling, 365 days per year, hotel to hotel, airport to airport. We can’t function without the medicine, without the drugs. I become drug used because of my business, profit business, show business.
Tell me your thoughts on the Magen Boys; the guys that got in touch with you and made this documentary?
I love Magen boys. They are family. Their father best friend when growing up in Iran. They make movie about Iron Sheik, and I love them forever. They care about old timers, about old generation, and put their heart and everything into making my movie and I know because they have the heart everything will be OK with movie.
In the end, what made you give up the drugs and try to change your life?
I love my family. I love my grandchildren. I love my fans. Many of my brothers in wrestling passed away at early age. I want to not be like them 100 per cent bubba. Don’t want to die, so I become clean.
You were in town recently going after our mayor Rob Ford, after he admitted to crack use; what did you say to him and why?
Oh that fat jabroni Rob Ford, eat the cheeseburger, smoke the crack. He’s a bad man. He doesn’t have good reputation for people of Toronto. I said to him, Rob Ford, be like Iron Sheik, no drugs, train, don’t have to do drugs now more. Be good man like Iron Sheik.
How long would it take for you to pin Rob Ford? He’s a pretty big guy.
I’m handicapped, 73 years old, but still with one hand behind my waist.
When is the last time you put someone in the camel clutch?
Oh every day, bubba.
Do you keep in touch with your old partner, Nikolai Volkoff?
Nikolai my best friend; love Nikolai forever.
What do you enjoy most when you come to Toronto to visit and see your fans?
I love my Toronto. I love the Belly Busters. Magen Boys make the best sandwich, love Maple Leaf Gardens, all my fans beautiful people.... Except that no good jabroni Rob Ford.
Magen: But what if he comes to the premiere, Sheiky?
If he comes to my movie I love him. If he doesn’t, he can take a walk.
The Sheik world premiere, April 26 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Additional screenings on April 27 and May 3. The movie will be available via direct download on May 9. Go to www.sheikmovie.com for all the details.