Did the Iron Sheik Really Win a Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to pro wrestling and pro wrestlers and whether they are true or not.

PRO WRESTLING URBAN LEGEND: The Iron Sheik won a Gold Medal for Wrestling at the 1968 Olympics.

In March of 2008, the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) inducted wrestler The Iron Sheik into its Hall of Fame.

They sent out a press release to honor the wrestler. It said, in part:

Khosrow Vaziri better known as The Iron Sheik has terrorized his opponents while entertaining generations of Pro Wrestling fan’s for close to four decades. Although The Iron Sheik turned Pro in 1972 he has been competing on the grappling scene since the mid 1960s and was a member of his native Iran’s Olympic Wrestling Team during the 1968 Mexico Olympics. In 1971, he won the AAU Greco Roman Gold Metal. Vaziri was also once a bodyguard for the family of the Shah of Iran.

The bit I wish to spotlight is:

was a member of his native Iran’s Olympic Wrestling Team during the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Is that true?

No, it is not.

Vaziri tried out for a spot on the team, but was cut in the Iranian finals.

So he never competed in the Olympics with the Iranian team, and thus never won a Gold Medal with the team.

The legend is…

STATUS: False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

One Response to “Did the Iron Sheik Really Win a Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics?”

  1. ParanoidObsessive on November 9th, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    To be fair, that press release pretty clearly says flat out that he DIDN’T win a gold medal with the Olympic team, since he won his gold medal in 1971, not 1968 (the Olympics). The medal he won was the Amateur Athletic Union Greco Roman gold medal (which the release also says). One assumes people just conflated those two facts in their heads over time, and assumed the gold medal he won was Olympic gold.

    He wasn’t the only wrestler in that time period whose Olympic accomplishments tended to be a bit exaggerated, though. Ken Patera used to be referred to as an Olympian and a gold medal winner, but all of his medals were from the Pan American Games (for weightlifting).

    Kurt Angle is probably the wrestler who played up his Olympic gold medals the most, though – except in his case, they WERE real.

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