Hot Docs 2014: The Sheik

Sheik Hossein Khosrow Ali Vazir is best known to professional wrestling fans as “The Iron Sheik,” who was one of the most hated villains from the 1970s and 1980s.  Born in 1942 in Iran, The Iron Sheik played on the Islamophobia of fans, with the character being genuinely hated. The Sheik briefly won the World Wrestling Federation heavyweight title, which he lost to Hulk Hogan, kicking off Hulkamania.  Later in his life, the Sheik became victim to nagging injuries and drug use.  With the help of Toronto’s Magen Boys, the Sheik has put his life together and found a new career through his extremely profane YouTube and Twitter rants. It would be hard to find a professional wrestling fan from the last 30 years, who has not heard of The Iron Sheik.  Before he was the bald and moustachioed villain, Khosrow Viziri was an amateur wrestler in the 1968 Olympics and even a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran.  However, it was his career as The Iron Sheik, which made Vazir one of the most hated men in professional wrestling, with him even worrying at times that he would actually be shot by fans. As a biography, The Sheik should be enjoyed by professional wrestling fans, especially since it features interviews with the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Jim Ross.  While the film has some footage from The Iron Sheik’s early territorial career, footage from his WWF/WWE prime is noticeably absent, though the film does feature photographs and crude animations as substitutes. While The Sheik is not without its flaws (it could have done without the generic rock score), it is still an interesting biography of the Sheik’s rise, fall, and social media resurgence. 7 | FAIR  Screenings:

  • Sun, April 27, 4:30 PM – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
  • Sat, May 3, 6:30 PM – Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).