Nikolai Volkoff, the WWE star known for playing a flamboyant Soviet/Russian character from the 1960s through the '90s, has died at age 70.
His death came just days after being released from a hospital in Maryland where he had been treated for dehydration among other issues.
World Wrestling Entertainment announced the sad news on Sunday.
Volkoff, whose real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzović, was actually born in Yugoslavia.
But in the world of pro wrestling, he was considered a "heel," a character who plays an enemy figure and riles up crowds so he adopted a Soviet/Russian persona.
Volkoff portrayed the red Soviet enemy to the hilt and was a huge hit during the Cold War in the 1980s.
"As one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff's infamous rendition of the Soviet National Anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe as a Superstar they truly loved to hate," WWE said in mourning him.
"Volkoff will go down in history as one of the greatest villains of all time. Although Volkoff's actions can be imitated, they will never be duplicated."
The "Russian" star teamed up with Iranian "heel," Iron Sheik to win the first-ever Wrestlemania in 1985.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Volkoff switched to supporting the United States and teamed up with American wrestler "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
Volkoff had made reportedly appearances for the WWE as recently as 2014.
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