Year
1984

Hulk Hogan beats Iron Sheik to win first WWF title

On this day in 1984, Hulk Hogan becomes the first wrestler to escape the “camel clutch”–the signature move of reigning World Wrestling Federation (WWF) champion Iron Sheik–as he defeats Sheik to win his first WWF title, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Only one month earlier, the Iron Sheik–born Hossein Khosrow Vaziri in Tehran, Iran–had defeated the celebrated Bob Backlund in a controversial match, ending Backlund’s WWF-championship reign of almost six years. A rematch was scheduled, but Backlund was injured, and Hulk Hogan–born Terry Gene Bollea in Augusta, Georgia–was given his spot. Six-foot-eight and around 300 pounds, with long blond hair and bronzed skin, Hogan entered the ring to his theme song, Survivor’s hit “Eye of the Tiger,” electrifying the Garden crowd. After the Sheik took an early advantage, Hogan turned the match around. He landed a kick to the Sheik’s face and followed up with a leg drop–jumping in the air and landing his leg on his fallen opponent. The bout was over in five minutes and 40 seconds, and Hogan was the new WWF champion.

The victory began what became known as “Hulkamania,” as Hogan’s phenomenal popularity led to a golden age for professional wrestling. A Southern, working-class hero in the eyes of his fans, Hogan advised young “Hulkamaniacs” to say their prayers and take their vitamins, and to believe in themselves. His championship reign lasted four straight years, and his enduring popularity brought unprecedented mainstream attention to the sport. He lost the WWF title in 1988 to Andre the Giant but regained it the following year with a win over Randy “Macho Man” Savage; he would hold it four times between 1989 and 1993.

The WWF and owner Vince McMahon launched the first wrestling pay-per-view event, WrestleMania, in 1985, and Hogan headlined eight of the first nine WrestleMania fights. After taking a year off to concentrate on television and movie roles, Hogan signed with a rival league, Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW), helping to foster what was known as a “New World Order.” He won the WCW championship title six times between 1994 and 1999, before returning to McMahon’s league–now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Plagued by knee injuries, he left wrestling in 2003, but returned two years later amid hoopla over his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. Since 2005, Hogan has made a limited number of appearances in the WWE arena.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

USS Pueblo captured

On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, is engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S. reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but ...read more

First woman M.D.

Elizabeth Blackwell is granted a medical degree from Geneva College in New York, becoming the first female to be officially recognized as a physician in U.S. history. Blackwell, born in Bristol, England, came to the United States in her youth and attended the medical faculty of ...read more

Toy company Wham-O produces first Frisbees

On this day in 1957, machines at the Wham-O toy company roll out the first batch of their aerodynamic plastic discs–now known to millions of fans all over the world as Frisbees. The story of the Frisbee began in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where William Frisbie opened the Frisbie ...read more

Derek Walcott is born

On this day, poet and playwright Derek Walcott is born in St. Lucia, in the Carribbean. Walcott will win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Walcott’s family descended from slaves in the West Indies, and the legacy of slavery is a common theme in his work. Both his parents ...read more

Deadliest earthquake in history rocks China

On this day in 1556, an earthquake in Shaanxi, China, kills an estimated 830,000 people. Counting casualties is often imprecise after large-scale disasters, especially prior to the 20th century, but this disaster is still considered the deadliest of all time. The quake struck in ...read more

Videotaped murder leads to convictions in Texas

Darrell Lunsford, a county constable in Garrison, Texas, is killed after pulling over a traffic violator. His murder was remarkable because it was captured on a camera set up in Lunsford’s patrol vehicle. The videotape evidence led to the conviction of the three men who beat, ...read more

North Korea seizes U.S. ship Pueblo

The U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo is seized by North Korean naval vessels and charged with spying and violating North Korean territorial waters. Negotiations to free the 83-man crew of the U.S. ship dragged on for nearly a year, damaging the credibility of and ...read more

Hood removed from command

On this day in 1865, Confederate General John Bell Hood is officially removed as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He had requested the removal a few weeks before; the action closed ableak chapter in the history of the Army of Tennessee. A Kentucky native, Hood attended West ...read more