The Post and Courier newspaper is reporting that former WWWF champion Ivan Koloff is battling liver cancer.
The man formerly known as The Russian Bear has been diagnosed with the liver disease more than 10 years ago but recent tests have shown that it’s getting worse. Koloff was still doing appearances at conventions but now he’s at a point where he cannot show up anymore as he cannot even sign autographs.
His wife Renae told Mike Mooneyham of The Post and Courier that he has difficulty walking due to weakness in both knees and is experiencing diminished liver function, along with jaundice and shortness of breath. “Doctors say this will only get worse as time goes on,” she said. “There’s really nothing they can do about it except to keep a watch on him.”
Koloff will visit a specialist next month in Chapel Hill, N.C., who will suggest options, although his wife revealed that at this stage, quality of life takes precedence over chemotherapy treatment. “He’s going to do the watch and wait every three to four months until they get ready to turn him over to doctors here,” she said. “And we’ll just take it from there.”
Koloff, now 74, was the one who beat Bruno Sammartino in 1971 at Madison Square Garden, ending Sammartino’s seven-and-a-half-year reign as WWWF Heavyweight champion.