Ivan Koloff, the former WWWF World Champion who ended Bruno Sammartino's epic 7+ year title reign, is battling liver cancer. Koloff, who was diagnosed with liver disease a decade ago, has recently had testing done that shows that the disease has worsened. His health is rapidly declining and he is having to cancel appearances.
According to his wife Renae, things are only going to get worse for the 74 year old Koloff.
"Doctors say this will only get worse as time goes on. There's really nothing they can do about it except to keep a watch on him. He's just not able to go out and do appearances as he had in recent years. He's not even able to sign autographs at this point.
Koloff's reasons for wanting to keep the disease a secret are for much more than financial gain.
"Ivan's had liver disease for many years, but he's been living with it. He didn't want to make it public before now because he wanted to continue to witness about the Lord and help with the Children's Miracle Network and do weddings and fundraisers. He just wanted to stay active. He's really down about not being able to go out and make appearances. But he can't even sign his name. We do have a rubber stamp with his signature on it. Our daughter goes with us, and she helps him get to the table. I guess we could stamp the pictures ahead of time."
Always a hated villain in the ring, Koloff reflected on his relationship with the fans in a recent Post And Courier interview.
"I appreciate the fans. Without the fans, there wouldn't be any wrestling," said Ivan, who began his pro career in 1961. "The main thing for me over the years, even as a bad guy, was just to make the matches exciting. Whether the fans were picking on me or booing me or just showing their love, I appreciate them so much and want to thank them all for their support. It makes me feel so good that they still remember."
Despite all his wrestling accomplishments, Koloff has not been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Koloff spoke about the omission in 2008.
"Well, I haven't heard anything from them, but yeah. I'd be interested for sure. I'm a firm believer with my ministry that I capitalize on any situation out there that would promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To me, if they'd give me the honor of being in the HOF for WWE, I'm not here to judge them. I would love and res the fact of being able to get up and say thank you not only to fans, not only to Vince McMahon, but above all, my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. It would be awesome to have that platform to do that."
While the family respectfully asks for privacy at this time, notes, cards and words of encouragement are appreciated and can be sent to Ivan Koloff at P.O. Box 2673, Winterville, N.C. 28590.
Koloff's daughter has set up a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of his ongoing medical treatment.
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