COMMENTARY | After toiling for decades under the bright lights of professional wrestling, many wrestlers enjoy the seclusion of retirement. However, other wrestlers have a difficult time letting go and continue performing in smaller promotions long past their primes. This is also true of former WWE Champions from long ago, who engage in a variety of activities in their golden years.
Take a closer look at where five former WWE Champions are today.
5. Ivan Koloff (1971)
After reigning as WWE Champion for nearly eight years, Bruno Sammartino finally fell to Ivan Koloff. Although his WWE title reign lasted less than a month, Koloff enjoyed a long, successful wrestling career. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Koloff was an outstanding tag team wrestler.
After leaving professional wrestling, Ivan Koloff became a born again Christian. In fact, he is an ordained minister. Like fellow Christian Ted DiBiase, Koloff travels around the country preaching his message. Koloff, who was actually born in Canada, now lives in North Carolina.
4. 'Superstar' Billy Graham (1977-78)
Billy Graham was one of the first pro wrestlers to have an extreme, muscular physique. After Sammartino regained the WWE title a second time, Graham defeated him in 1977. After losing the belt to Bob Backlund in 1978, Graham wrestled in the AWA, NWA, and the WWE once again.
In 2004, the WWE inducted Billy Graham into its hall of fame. Despite recurring health problems, he has focused on his artwork in retirement. An accomplished painter, the Arizona native focuses on the southwest style of his home state and current residence in his artwork.
3. The Iron Sheik (1983-84)
Like Ivan Koloff, The Iron Sheik was a transitional WWE Champion. After defeating Backlund, The Iron Sheik lost the WWE title to Hulk Hogan 28 days later. The former Iranian Olympic wrestler had no difficulty getting over as a heel in America following the Iranian hostage crisis.
The Iron Sheik's ability to get over has not ended in retirement. Today, he has become somewhat of a social media phenomenon. In fact, he has gained over 300,000 followers on Twitter due to his bizarre, hilarious statements. The Iron Sheik is enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame.
2. The Ultimate Warrior (1990-91)
Throughout the long, storied history of the WWE, The Ultimate Warrior may have had the greatest entrance ever. The Ultimate Warrior personified intensity and he eventually won the WWE Championship by defeating Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI in 1990.
After leaving professional wrestling, The Ultimate Warrior has had an interesting life. While still an active wrestler, James Hellwig legally changed his name to "Warrior." Since then, Warrior has been a prolific writer and artist. And he recently founded Warrior University.
1. Sgt. Slaughter (1991)
After spending much of his WWE career as one of the most popular wrestlers in America, Sgt. Slaughter turned heel in the early 1990s. Slaughter ended The Ultimate Warrior's WWE title reign in 1991, but lost the belt just two months later to Hulk Hogan. Slaughter turned face again before retiring.
Since then, Sgt. Slaughter has worked for the WWE in a number of roles. He was a kayfabe authority figure during the Attitude Era. Slaughter has also worked as a backstage producer and still occasionally wrestles on WWE Raw. The North Carolina resident is in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Ivan Koloff
- Billy Graham
- The Ultimate Warrior
- professional wrestling
- WWE Champions