Sunday, April 6, 2008

Masculinity III: No not Rambo... The Iron Sheik

WWF of Miss Talibonita's 80s childhood would not be the same without the presence of this screaming Iranian. To our glee, the gang of Afghan bubble gum kids, the Iron Sheik spoke Farsi when he was yelling at Hulk Hogan! He didn't just scream out made-up words, which was usually what "middle eastern" characters did in the films those days.

This photo is a classic. He's got the Ayatollah with angry bulged out eyes on his cape. It makes me think of this: "The Ayatolla of Rock-N-Rolla" a line from a Clint Eastwood film (circa late 80s with Mario van Peebles).

Okay this footage is way way before Miss Talibonita's time! He gets clotheslined with his own robe! But he does manage to Hulk Hogan in a "Boston crab".

Here is a great poem by the Iranian-American poet, Roger Sedarat that speaks of an Iranian wrestler, Miss Talibonita can imagine that is no other than the sheikh of all Iranian wrestlers.

By Roger Sedarat
August 14, 2002
The Iranian

Uncle Farhang ringside cracking seeds
Wildly cheers"The Fearless Iranian"
In the black mask, Come on now, body slam
Him champ! spitting shells on the metal seats.

The good guy wins. We follow ours back in
His dressing room for autographs. He knows
My uncle's friend (a coach) and even shows
Pictures. Great seeds, he says, watermelon?

My Uncle gives his bag away and asks
Him to the house. We have to wake my aunt
At 3:00 a.m. to cook but then she can't
Because the wrestler wants a dozen eggs

With bacon (pork is wrong, but mistreating
A guest is worse). At the all night Kroger
She buys every package of hamburger
Meat, fully aware he's never leaving.

They feed him forty kabob koobideighs
Each night, then let him sit in their bathroom
For hours. My cousins, as if to welcome
Him out, grin, with both hands on their kidneys.

When he decides to leave, my Uncle says
Stay three more weeks. And then when he insists,
Uncle dumps the fridge into an ice chest,
Fishes in his pants' pockets for the keys

To his new Ford, (his only way to work),
Because the bus is slow. You'll return it
In a few months, when you come to visit�
So he drives off, emitting random sparks

From the bumper grating the street, too much
Weight in the trunk: potatoes, ground meat, shoes
My uncle found "too tight," and slightly used
Toys from cousins, who scream, Come back to us!

PS: Of course, Iran is not part of CenAsia. But every once in a while, a lovely Iranian will slip across the borders and find their way here.


Vain and Vapid said...

What fashionable head attire, he was waaaaaaaay ahead of his time. Almost a wrestling hipster, if you will.

K Chan said...

I too grew up in this era and loved the Iron Sheik. My friends and I used to practice the classic Iron Sheik move "the Camel Clutch!" all the time on one another. It hurt like hell and probably gave us a good reason to see a chiropractor in a few years but well worth it in the name of fun. Hell, during that time I think we used to think that all middle easterners were all one people, I think I used to believe that Iran was in Egypt because of the term "Camel Clutch". Blame it on the movies about Egypt who associated it with camels.