I had the opportunity to speak with The Iron Sheik about his title reign a few years ago, while I was doing research for the WWE Championship book. For the first time ever, here is the entire transcript of our conversation. Up until this point, only portions of our talk were made available in the book and on this site. Look for more full transcripts on this site in the future.
Kevin Sullivan: Describe the feeling of winning such a prestigious title.
Iron Sheik: It was a very big pleasure to me because I was the first middle eastern to win the championship. I came from Tehran, Iran, and came to America and became champion. That was the biggest honor for me, as well as all my country people and all my wrestling fans in America.
Sullivan: Do you have any regrets or ill-feelings toward the short length of your reign?
Sheik: I’m not really upset, but I wish I had more of a return match with Mr. Hulk Hogan. That way I would be more happy. But even though it was short, it was a big honor for me and I was happy.
Sullivan: Do you think WWE could’ve been as successful as it was in the 1980s with you on top instead of Hogan?
Sheik: I think the reason Mr. Hogan did get my belt was because I had a lot of heat in 1983 because of the hostage situation in Iran. Fifty people, 444 days over there, and I was the hottest thing in the WWF and I was a real athlete. I was all-American, three-time AAU champion from University of Minnesota. And I think Mr. Hulk Hogan came and took the belt over from me because I had too much heat because of the hostage situation in Iran.
Sullivan: Is the story of Verne Gagne offering you $100,000 to break Hogan’s leg true?
Sheik: Hogan was in Minnesota, but then went to New York, and everyone knew at that time that the WWF was the No. 1 company and No. 1 federation in the world. Everybody knows that Mr. Hogan was a big man. But Mr. Gagne told me, “don’t drop the belt to Hogan, break his legs, come back home and I give you $100,000.”
That’s the story. That’s the truth. I came from Minnesota. Mr. Gagne was my coach. He told me, “do me a favor because I am going to go bankrupt. My company is going to go down because Hogan is in WWF. Bring the belt home to Minnesota and I give you $100,000. Do it for me.”
I didn’t do it because the hand that feeds me, I don’t bite that hand. I have so much respect for WWF. A lot of federations go bankrupt after that because WWF was the greatest company in the world.
It’s a true story. I told Mr. McMahon, Pat Patterson, Sgt. Slaughter, and my wife. Long story short – the best time in the world for me was with the WWF. And I have so much respect for that company, I didn’t do it.
Sullivan: So the though of going through with it was never an option for you?