His voice was instantly recognizable, like that of a long lost friend. But it was a joyless voice, and sounded a bit feeble.
Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, is 73, and is in pain. He badly needs knee surgery that he can't afford, but if the truth is to be told, every joint on his body could use fixing.
A lifetime in wrestling, amateur and professional, will do that to a man.
So Vaziri, better known as the evil pro wrestler, "The Iron Sheik," would on this day rather sit in his chair and let the hours pass by than talk about his life.
He aches all over, he's not making a lot of money and he wants to be left alone.
"Bubba, please, I will talk to you and answer all of your questions," he says, pleadingly. "But let's do it another time. Now is not good."
Now, though, is the time. At least that's the view of Page Magen, who along with his twin brother, Jian, serves as the Sheik's manager. The Magens are attempting to raise funds through crowd sourcing to produce a documentary on the Sheik's life.
It is an incredible life, one well worth documenting. He was born in a small village near Tehran. His childhood home had no running water nor plumbing, but he worked hard and became one of Iran's most popular athletes. He competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City on its Greco-Roman wrestling team, and served for a while as a bodyguard for the family of the Shah.
He fled the country, though, when his friend and idolGholamreza Takhti was, he believed, murdered by the government. He feared he might be next, so in 1969, he headed for the safety of the U.S.
The official version of Takhti's death, released by the government, is that he committed suicide. ButVaziri and many others believe Takhti was executed for his anti-government views.
"He was so popular in Iran," Vaziri said. "He was like the Michael Jordan. Everyone loved him. And I was No. 2. I thought, if they got him, they're probably going to get me, too. I knew I had to leave."
And so he set out for the U.S. Though he spoke only Farsi when he arrived, he quickly became immersed in amateur wrestling in his new country. He won an AAU championship in 1971 and was presented his gold medal by Muhammad Ali.
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