RIPLEY - Pastor Jack Miller (Photo, left) of West Ripley Baptist Church welcomes Rev. Ivan Koloff to the church as guest speaker Sunday morning. Koloff, also known as the Russian Bear, is a Hall of Fame professional wrestler who teamed with nephew Nikita Koloff as masters of the "Russian Sickle." As Miller said, Koloff was the best of the bad guys of pro wrestling for decades. Koloff scored the greatest upset in professional wrestling history in 1971 when he upset his idol Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF Heavyweight crown at Madison Square Garden.
He said his toughest opponents over the years included Andre the Giant, Harley Race, Wahoo McDaniel and Hawk of The Road Warriors. Despite worldwide fame and numerous titles, Koloff said he developed a drug and alcohol problem and felt his life was lacking. With the help of Nikita, he found religion and became a born-again Christian in 1995. He has since become an ordained minister and worked in wrestling ministries with such converted stars as Nikita Koloff and Sting. Ivan Koloff shared his life story with the West Ripley Baptist Church congregation Sunday morning, saying that Jesus Christ is the true champion and the greatest tag team partner for anyone.