Ivan Koloff, wrestling’s “Russian Bear,” dies at 74 AP Feb 18, 2017 at 10:19p ET GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) Ivan Koloff, the Canadian professional wrestler known as ”The Russian Bear” in the ring, had died after fighting liver cancer. He was 74. Koloff’s daughter, Rachel Marley, and the WWE confirmed the death. ”I’m sad to wake up and hear of the passing of my very close friend the Russian Bear Ivan Koloff,” former wrestler Ric Flair tweeted. ”You will be missed My Friend. Rest in peace.” Article continues below ... Born in Montreal as Oreal Perras, Koloff was one of wrestling’s top villains in the 1970 and 1980s. In 1971, he pinned Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden to take the WWWF title. Koloff later was an ordained minister in Greenville. The death came a day after fellow former wrestler George ”The Animal” Steele died a 79.