A former world champion heavyweight wrestler is coming to a nearby church to talk about his relationship with God.
Nikita Koloff, “The Russian Nightmare,” is scheduled to appear at the Church of God of Prophecy, Hwy 177 South, Cheraw Road in Hamlet on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 19 at 11 a.m.
Koloff grew up in projects in Minnesota, one of four children with a single parent who he said struggled to make ends meet. Fascinated by body-building, Koloff joined a gym where he spent most of his time. He was set on professional football, but made a detour and joined the world of heavyweight wrestling. There, he was asked to take on the role of a “mean Russian” who spoke no English.
“The story was that I was a superior athlete who came off the boat, literally, from the Soviet Union to the United States to show Americans what a ‘real’ athlete looked like,” wrote Koloff in his online biography. “A Russian guy who spoke not a word of English. That was the perception of who I was supposed to be. It worked. It is still one of the most talked about events in wrestling history.”
His climbed to the top over the course of a few years, beginning in 1987, and was a five-time world champion in heavyweight wrestling when he retired in 1993.
“Upon my retirement in 1993, I found myself reflecting back on my life and career,” wrote Koloff. “Evaluating all that I had accomplished, the accolades, the fame and the fortune, I was confused as to why I still felt empty inside. The world told me that fame and fortune would make me happy, but I had all of these things and was still unfulfilled. In October of 1993, I stepped into a church service and when an altar call was given, in an instant, I immediately knew what was missing in my life. A relationship with Jesus Christ. My life has never been the same.”
This fulfillment is what Pastor Steve Crews said makes Koloff a relevant guest in his church.
“I think he has a message of being on top, yet at the same time being unfulfilled in life,” said Crews. “Since he has found that relationship with Christ, his life is more fulfilled. Life has taken on greater meaning. A lot of people in the world are going after material things. I think they are missing out on the main purpose; to have a relationship with God.”
Crews said he heard Koloff speak earlier this year at the Roberdel Baptist Church Men’s Conference.
“He was a very personable, very well-spoken, very humble man,” said Crews. “He talks about his background and how he came to be Nikita Koloff, and he talks a lot about wrestling with life’s issues.”
Crews said he can remember when Koloff was on television, and knows others in the community will remember, too.
“We feel like there is a large number of wrestling fans here,” said Crews. “Some may remember his signature move, ‘The Russian Sickle.’”
Koloff went into ministry full-time in 1994 and has been spreading his message in more than 25 countries. For more information, call Pastor Crews at 910-334-1009.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.