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- Nikita was a finalist for the role of
captain Ivan Drago in Rocky IV
- Nikita is actually from Minnesota
- When Nikita first entered into wrestling, he was so "into" his
russian character that the spoke Russian to everyone except his
trainers - Ivan Koloff and Don Kernodle; and he would only speak
english to the when they were totally alone
- Nikita was an NFL quality tight end in football
- Nikita's real, legal name is Nikita s.
- Nikita was an NFL quality tightened in football
- Nikita still roots for his "home boys"
the Minnesota Vikings although he also follows the Carolina
- Nikita has authored two books:
"breaking the chains" and "wrestling
with success" (with Jeffrey Gitomer)
- Nikita's never kept track of how much weight he could lift: but
his normal workout poundage was 400
- Nikita has a heart for Africa and would love to live and
Nikita was born on March
9, 1959, in Minneapolis, Minn. His father was a veteran of World War
and upon returning home after the war, like many veterans of
foreign wars, had a difficult time adjusting. When Nikita was two
years old, his father decided to leave the family. For the next 20
years Nikita's father was in and out of his life. With no real
support Nikita's mother set about the task of raising four children
as a teacher's aid in the
system. Although she worked this job well into her 70's, it didn’t
pay enough to fully support a family so she was forced to turn to
welfare. Nikita found himself and the rest of his family living in
the projects of
for the next eight years. Finally, escaping the projects at the age
of 10, the family moved to Robbinsdale, Minnesota.
When he entered sixth grade he stumbled across a copy of "Iron Man,"
a muscle magazine. Flicking through the magazine he found himself
mesmerized at how men could build their muscles. He bought his first
weight lifting set - a 110 pound starter set with money he earned as
a newspaper boy, shortly thereafter, and began weightlifting. By
junior high school he pumped himself up to where he could squat 500
pounds. He played offense and defensive line for the Robbinsdale
After high school, Nikita attended Golden Valley Jr. College and
later, Moorhead State University, setting his sites on a
professional football career. During his college career, Nikita’s
was twice slowed by broken legs. He was one of only three players on
his team to be scouted by the NFL; however, the scouts lost interest
due to the leg injuries. Not losing his childhood vision and hopes,
he graduated in 1982 and moved back to the Twin Cities, still
planning on making an NFL team. Friends found that Nikita had become
an true "gym rat." He spent every free hour of his day pumping iron
at a local training club, called "The Gym" (owned and operated by
longtime friend Jim Yungner). A light day at the gym for him was six
hours. Eight-hour days were more typical and it got to the point
where he packed a lunch so he could eat it at the gym. He earned a
living by bouncing at a bar at night.
Bouncing one night at the bar Nikita saw two men fighting and tried
to stop them. In the melee his legs got entangled and he felt
searing pain flow through his left leg. X-rays showed he had a
hair-line fracture. Surgeons were called in to insert a steel rod in
his leg to give it needed support and strength. He still carries
that rod in his leg.
For all of 1983, still determined to play in the NFL, he would spend
as many waking hours as possible pumping weights to build his body.
His strategy was that by the summer of 1984 he would be ready for an
NFL tryout. Looking for a little adventure while he was recovering,
Nikita packed up his bags and moved in with his close friend in
Atlanta, Georgia; his
friend was a wrestler with Georgia Championship Wrestling known as
Road Warrior "Animal". Soon, he was attending wrestling matches in
the evening and worked out during the day. Workers compensation from
his bar injury sustained him.
Three months later he returned to the Twin Cities and got a job as
bar disc jockey. By then Nikita's body was a massive 6-foot-2,
285-pounds - 8% body fat. In April of that year he got a call from
his friend Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis with news about a wrestling
opportunity. At the time, Gordon Solie, who did play-by-play for
WTBS Wrestling in Atlanta, had lined up a tryout for Nikita with the
Tampa Bay Bandits in the newly-created USFL. But Laurinaitis told
Nikita that Jim Crockett, who headed the National Wrestling Alliance
in Charlotte, N.C., was searching for new wrestlers. A common
practice in wrestling is to search for new talent when ratings are
down. The NWA was in a ratings dip. World tag team champions Don
Kernodle and Ivan Koloff came up with an idea. Figuring the Russians
would boycott the Olympics, they put the word out to find a "nephew"
for Ivan. Laurinaitis thought that Nikita would fit the bill.
Even though he didn't have an ounce of wrestling experience, Nikita
decided to give the profession a stab, thinking that if it didn't
work out he still had a tryout with the Bandits. So Nikita called
Crockett and told him he was interested in slamming bodies as a
wrestler. True to form, Nikita also told Crockett he had never been
in a ring. Sight unseen, Crocket's only instructions were for Nikita
to be in his office with his head shaved bald. When the time came
Nikita traveled to
Charlotte and opened the door to Crockett's office.
Looking at Nikita's skimpy waist (34 inches) and colossal muscles
Crockett was shocked at his size. His eyeballs bugged out even more
when he instructed Nikita to take off his size 54 sport jacket and
removed his shirt. Each muscle was ripped to near perfection.
Crockett immediately fetched Ivan Koloff, and Don Kernodle. Both men
were among Crockett's top-of-the-line wrestlers. Ivan played the
role of a mean wrestler from the
Soviet Union while
Kernodle's character was that of an American defector who sided with
the Russians. The two men formed the championship team in the
wrestling enterprise. As soon as Ivan and Kernodle saw Nikita they
knew they found the "nephew".
Kissing a chance at playing football good-bye, Nikita signed up as a
wrestler with the NWA. He was told that he would play the character
of a Soviet wrestler, looking mean and wearing a chain. He was
immediately put on the set for interviews, instructed to stand
silent with folded arms and a scowling face, behind Kernodle and
Ivan. He played his part well. Afterwards, he was told he would be
wrestling the next night in Raleigh, N.C., before a huge audience,
and taping a special four hour television event with the who's who
of wrestling. Arriving late, Crockett made the decision not to let
Nikita wrestle. Ivan convinced Crockett to give Nikita a chance. In
his first match Nikita defeated his opponent in 10 seconds - a
record time. Because of his association with Ivan and Don, Nikita
gained an immediate disliking from the fans.
From that night on, Nikita's career was launched. For the next two
months experienced on the job training - sometimes battling two or
three opponents at one time throughout the Mid-Atlantic. His rise to
stardom came quickly. Playing the part of a Russian during the cold
war was about as evil as it got. It was a role that Nikita took
serious, extremely serious. Fans booed him like no other wrestler
and death threats against him were common because fans believed he
was a threat to
Nikita developed the character as a Soviet wrestler who was suppose
to compete in the 1984 summer Olympics Games in Los Angeles which
was boycotted by the Soviets. The character was suppose to be a
superstar athlete who was gunning to win medals in track, field and
wrestling. A unique feature to Nikita's character was that he spoke
no English - he even studied the Russian language and learned to
speak and write Russian.
Nikita also came close to landing a movie role in Rocky IV with
Sylvestor Stallone. In the movie Stallone's boxing character was
training to fight the no good Russian boxer, Ivan Drago. A casting
call went out for someone to play the bad Russian and Nikita was on
that short list - one of three finalists. He was flown out to
and performed in a screen test with Stallone. Another character, a
smooth looking blond, won the part.
During 1986 Nikita reached the top for those playing the bad guy. He
was voted by fans as the No.1 most-hated wrestler. While on tour in
Japan, Nikita's nemesis, Magnum T.A. was paralyzed in a car wreck in
Charlotte, NC. Being
groomed to one day replace Ric Fair, the promotion was devastated by
the accident, and now wondered who could replace such a void. Upon
Nikita's return from Japan, he was informed of Magnum's accident.
Crockett had an idea: typical to the wrestling business, when a
wrestler gets to be that good, or bad depending on your point of
view, it's time for a switch to the other side - and they promoters
suggested to Nikita that it was time for him to wear the white hat.
Before his accident, Magnum's tag team partner was wrestling legend
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Magnum's accident now left Dusty
without a partner in his feud against the "Four Horsemen". After
thinking over Crockett's suggestion, Nikita decided to accept the
So Nikita changed from the ugly Russian who hated Americans to one
who fell in love with the country and became as loveable as hot dogs
and apple pie. A top wrestling magazine ran a cover photo of
Nikita's face with a tear trailing down his cheeks. The caption said
he was crying for his friend Magnum TA. That sealed his new image.
The switch took place in Nikita's "new" home town of Nashville, Tn.
where Dusty was scheduled to wrestle in a cage match. To heighten
suspense, for several the match was advertised that Dusty would have
a mystery partner. The identity of Dusty's partner was one of the
best kept secrets in wrestling. Other than Nikita, only Dusty and
Crockett knew who the mystery partner was. When the night came for
the big match, Dusty strolled out of the dressing room. The
overflowing crowd gasped when they saw Nikita slowly trailing behind
him. As Dusty entered the ring the other two opponents, who were
playing the bad heels, jumped him. Nikita paused outside the ring
and looked to the audience. He climbed the stairs to the door of the
cage where he paused again, as the two opponents pummeled poor
Dusty. As he stepped through the ring ropes and the cage door was
closed. He paused for a third and final time as Ole Anderson and J.J.
Dillon continued their assault on Dusty. As the crowd waited in
anticipation, surely expecting Nikita would make it a three-on-one,
Nikita shocked the arena by viciously attacking Ole Anderson.
Quickly defeating their opponents, the crowd erupted with the chant
of Nikita! Nikita! Nikita! for the next 15 minutes.
He played his part to the hilt. His switch to the gentle Russian was
complete. Dusty and Nikita's alliance would be nicknamed "The
Superpowers". For the next 18 months, everywhere they wrestled the
house sold out. Their accomplishments included many victories over
the "Four Horsemen" and winners of the Crockett Cup Tournament. In
1987, Nikita was voted "Most Inspirational Wrestler" of the year.
Previously, Nikita had always said he didn't want to play the good
guy. He thought having to sign autographs and chatting with fans
would be a drag. But once he became loved by fans he relished being
the good guy. Rather than spitting in his face fans would now come
up to him and pat him on the back.
In 1987, his girl friend, Mandy, was diagnosed with cancer. After
going through the agony of chemotherapy doctors declared the cancer
was in remission. But the next year the cancer returned. At the same
time Ted Turner bought out Crockett and renamed the company World
Championship Wrestling. In a heartbeat the small family-operated
company became part of corporate America.
By 1988 Mandy's conditioned was deteriorating and Nikita told WCW he
was taking a sabbatical to care for her. The promotion was stunned -
never before had someone left at the height of their career, and
this didn't sit well with WCW executives; but realizing his
priorities, Nikita was firm in his decision.
Nikita left the ring in 1988. Mandy's conditioned steadily worsened
and Nikita looked on as her life began to wither. By early 1989 her
fight was over. After six weeks in intensive care, with Nikita by
her side, she died. This was his first experience in how short life
can be and how valuable it really is. Within a week of Mandy's
death, WCW began calling for Nikita's return. Taking time to
recover, it would be several months before Nikita would return to
In early 1990, Nikita met his future wife, Victoria. Victoria later
moved back to Charlotte and in the process of time their fondness
for each other grew. In late of spring 1990, Nikita proposed to
Victoria and the two married on Aug. 17, 1990. Victoria, Nikita,
Teryn and Tawni (Victoria's daughters) became an instant family.
Their marriage was further blessed with their daughters Kendra, who
was born in June 1992, and Kolby, who was born in May of 1996.
Now 33 years-old, Nikita took a hard look at the world around him.
He didn't like how wrestling was taking him from his family. He also
didn't like how the WCW was treating wrestlers. Then, on Nov. 7,
1992 Nikita stepped into the ring for what would become his final
The match was against Big Van Vander (Leon "Bull Power" White), an
enormous 500-pound wrestler. During the match Nikita was hit with a
clothes line blow to the back of the head. Immediately, he knew
something was wrong. He felt a throbbing pain in his neck and his
left arm went numb. By 5 a.m. the next morning his lower abdomen was
hurting as well. At that point he knew he needed medical attention.
A team of seven doctors checked him out. Tests revealed he had a
hernia. An MRI showed his neck had been injured so often in
wrestling it looked like that of a 55-year-old. The doctors didn't
tell him not to wrestle, but said the longer he continued to
wrestle, the more likely he faced the risk of permanent injury.
Taking three months to recover from his hernia surgery, and
rehabilitating his neck, Nikita decided it was time to "bronze the
boots". He had set a goal to retire on top of whatever profession he
was in, by the age of 35. His pet peeve was athletes who stay past
their prime. Determined not to fall into the same trap, Nikita
obtained his goal two years ahead of schedule.
Now free from the heavy burden of travel, Nikita took the most
powerful turn of his life. Having achieved academically in the class
room. athletically on the football field and in the wrestling ring,
and achieving world wide fame as a world champion wrestler, Nikita
realized something was still missing in his life. He and his wife
had always said they wanted to raise their children in church and
began looking for one they could attend. This was a fairly new quest
for Nikita. Growing up, his family was never known for their church
attendance. And even though he attended mandatory Bible classes in
junior college the word of God really didn't mean much to him then.
Upon invitation from a business associate, Nikita walked into a
local church service. When the pastor asked the congregation if
anyone wanted to give their heart to Jesus Christ, it was then that
Nikita realized the key missing ingredient - Nikita was the first to
walk that aisle, to the altar, and bend his knee to Jesus. As much
as the rejoicing of fans raised the roof the night that Nikita came
to Dusty's aid against the Horsemen, the response pales in
comparison to the rejoicing of the angels in Heaven the day that
Nikita bowed a knee at the altar of Salvation (the same is true of
anyone else who bows a knee and accepts Jesus Christ). Thereafter
Nikita's zeal for Jesus continues to grow day by day.
• NWA World Tag Team
Champion - 2 times with Ivan Koloff
• NWA World 6-Man Tag Team Champion - 2 times (once with Ivan and
Don Kernodle, and once with Ivan and Krusher Krushev)
• NWA/UWF Unified World Television Championship Belt
• NWA United States Heavy Weight Championship Belt
• NWA 1987 Crockett Cup - with The American Dream Dusty Rhodes
A Little Info on
Nikita’s Ministry and His Family:
• They are a faith
based ministry, meaning they walk by faith and not by sight -
relying on God to meet their ministry and family needs through love
offerings, sale of merchandise and your donations.
• Although located outside of Charlotte, NC, they have ministered
throughout the world - including South Africa, Curacao, Singapore,
South Korea, Moldova, Columbia, South America, Costa Rica, Romania,
Trinidad Angola, Africa and have received invitations from numerous
other countries as well.
• As evangelists,
they travel and speak in churches to people of all ages. They also
conduct a unique crusade utilizing wrestling as their platform. The
Lord has also allowed them to go into our schools and speak to our
youth bringing a message of hope, about the dangers of drugs,
alcohol and other problems facing them today. They are also blessed