There is little doubt that, for many, wrestling is a family affair. History is full of families that have left a mark on the industry including the Von Erichs and the Harts. Today Brian looks at another wrestling family that’s left a larger legacy than most on the world of wrestling: the Anoa’i family.
Many fans can debate who has the greatest wrestling family in professional wrestling. Some may say the Von Erichs while others may say the Harts. Both are solid choices, but for my money it has got to be the Anoa’i family…a dynasty indeed! You may ask…why is that family the greatest family in pro wrestling history? The answer is pretty simple actually….their family has contributed more than just a few world champions, tag team champions and Hall of Famers. They have also trained countless stars outside of the family to main event status.
While you may need a score card to try and figure out who’s who in their ever extensive family tree…the Maivia, Anoa’i and Fatu family have generated many future legends in the wrestling business and continue to do so to this day!
While the family has wrestled all over the world with tremendous success including places like Japan, Canada, Europe, AWA, NWA/WCW, ECW and TNA …their main home has seemingly always been the WWE. As a matter of fact….the longest stretch the WWE roster had without a member of this Samoan family since the 1980’s occurred between the year’s 2009 and 2010. Roughly 11 months without a single member of that family from when the late Eddie “Umaga” Fatu was fired in 2009 to when the Usos debuted in 2010. Pretty impressive mark if you ask me.
It all started with High Chief Peter Maivia who began his wrestling career in 1962. He was considered a “blood brother” with Reverend Anoa’i Amituana’i who was the father of the famed Wild Samoan tag team of Afa and Sika. Maivia married a woman named Lia and together promoted wrestling for the National Wrestling Alliance in Hawaii. As a matter of fact, when Peter Maivia died of cancer in 1982…Lia took over the reigns of her husband’s promotion and became one of the first women to promote pro wrestling.
Brothers Afa and Sika Anoa’i married women and had kids that eventually got involved in wrestling. Afa had sons who wrestled as Manu, Samu in the WWE respectively and L.A. Smooth. Sika had two sons Rosey and Roman Reigns actively compete the WWE. Other Anoa’i family members had children who became pro wrestlers like the late Yokozuna, the Tonga Kid, Umaga and Rikishi. Rikishi is the father of current WWE stars Jimmy and Jey Uso.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention perhaps the most famous member of the Samoan dynasty…Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson…grandson of Peter Maivia and son to Maivia’s daughter Ata and wrestling father Rocky Johnson. The Rock while one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE history and a former 8 time WWE champion…also crossed over to mainstream movies and television.
While Jimmy Snuka is a close family friend….he is personally not related to the Anoa’i family. He was married to Sharon who may or may not have blood ties to the Anoa’i family which would make Snuka’s son (Sim Snuka/ Deuce) and daughter Sarona (Tamina Snuka) blood relatives.
With a plethora of the family in or formerly in the business…there are still others that are in the pipeline ready to make their own impact in professional wrestling….
Jacob Fatu is the son of the Tonga Kid.
Lance Anoa’i is the son of Samu and grandson to Afa.
Reno Anoa’i aka The Black Pearl
Nia is a cousin to the Maivia family.
Like all families…it isn’t without tragedy. There have been family members who died young and tragically. We mustn’t forget former WWE Intercontinental champion Eddie “Umaga” Fatu who died of a accidental drug over dose at the age of 36 and the very first member of the Anoa’i family to be called world champion in Rodney Anoa’i aka 2 time former WWE champion Yokozuna who died of pulmonary edema at the age of 34. Also, Gary Albright who was married to Afa’s daughter Monica died of a heart attack at age 36.
As mentioned earlier, the family’s wrestling legacy isn’t just relegated to their own members. They have also trained several current and former stars in the family’s Wild Samoan Wrestling School located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Alumni include Snitsky, Batista, Billy Kidman and Chris Canyon. They are also responsible for training actor Mickey Rourke in preparation for his role in the movie…The Wrestler.
As you can see…this family’s history is rich and abundant and doesn’t seem to be losing steam any time soon. With 10 world titles…5 WWE Hall of Famers…multiple tag team titles and various regional titles the Samoan family is without question the most influential in the history of the wrestling industry.