Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
November 21, 1942
1980s - 1990s
Currently Known For:
Retired WWE Wrestlers, Operators at the World Xtreme Wrestling Promotion, and Trainers at the Wild Samoan Training Center
Tag Team with World Wrestling Entertainment
One of the best-known tag teams in wrestling, The Wild Samoans is the name brothers Afa and Sika Anoa’i took when they jumped into the ring in the 1970s. Only three years apart with each standing at over six feet tall and tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, the brothers found incredible success with the World Wrestling Federation, Mid-South Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance. Throughout their career, they won over 20 tag team championship titles from 1971 to 1994 and saw their contributions to wrestling pay off in 2007 when they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Coincidentally, the brothers were inducted by their sons, which made the honor even more special. With Afa and Sika now in their 70s, let’s take a look at their journey from the Western Samoa Trust Territory to their life in the ring and their retirement!
Arthur “Afa” Anoa’i Sr. was born on November 21, 1942 in the Western Samoa Trust Territory and became a big brother on April 5, 1945 when Leati Sika Anoa’i Amituana’i came into the world in Leone, American Samoa. While they were still very young, the brothers moved with their family to San Francisco, California where Afa later enlisted with the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps at 17 years old. Once his service to the country was complete, he set his sights on wrestling and encouraged his brother to join him in the ring.
Fortunately, Afa already had connections in the industry thanks to family friends like Peter Maivia and Rocky Johnson. Asking them to train him as a wrestler, he gained more experience and signed on to train with German professional, Kurt Von Steiger. In 1971, Afa made his wrestling debut as his younger brother, Sifa, joined him on the wrestling circuit. “I started first, then my brother came in and we started teaming in Arizona,” Afa recalled. “From there, we moved to Calgary and wrestled for Stu Hart. Stu helped us out a lot. We thought we knew a lot about the business until we got to Calgary…” Moving around throughout the 1970s, they called themselves The Wild Samoans and adopted a storyline that they were from the Samoan jungle and couldn’t speak English. Grunting through their interviews, their manager, Captain Lou Albano, translated as their behavior became even wilder as they snacked on raw fish and publicly picked their noses.
Their wild behavior was exactly what the wrestling world was looking for in the 1970s as they made their wrestling debut with Stampede Wrestling in Alberta, Canada. They took home the Stampeded International Tag Team Championship twice and moved to the National Wrestling Alliance where they won the 1978 International Wrestling Alliance Tag Team Championship in Japan. This paved their way into the World Wrestling Federation where they caught a huge break in New York in the early 1980s.
“We moved around during the 70s… and we got our big break in New York,” Afa said. “What happened was Andre The Giant and Fabulous Moolah had seen us. In those days, Andrew would work all over the country for different promoters. So, when he met us in Louisiana, he went back and told Vince McMahon that he had met these two kids that would be perfect for his territory. Andre was the one and Fabulous Moolah put in the good word.” Fortunately, Vince took Andre’s suggestion and signed on The Wild Samoans as they made their World Wrestling Federation debut at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 1980. Although they lost the WWF Tag Team Championship title, they were an instant hit with fans because of their drive and raw talent. “We would go in and kick butts or get our butts kicked. The people liked that,” Afa recalled.
Coming back to win the WWF Tag Team Championship, Afa and Sifa attempted to win the WWF Heavyweight champion title from Bob Backlund but were never successful. Instead, they left the WWF after one year and signed on with Mid-South Wrestling where they were briefly known as “The Samoans” before their manager, Ernie Ladd, changed their name to “The Samoan Warriors.” The brothers took home the Mid-South Tag Team Championship and later left the promotion to wrestle for the NWA territory Georgia Championship Wrestling, which earned them the NWA National Tag Team Championship title.
In 1983, The Wild Samoans returned to the World Wrestling Federation and reclaimed their World Tag Team Championship title shortly before an injury took Sika out of the ring. By then, Afa’s son, Samu, had gotten his start in wrestling and joined his dad in the ring as the third Wild Samoan. Unfortunately, the father-son duo didn’t last long when the Samoans were fired from the WWF after Afa skipped a major wrestling event to witness the birth of one of his sons, Afa Anoa’i Jr. By then, Sika ventured into a solo career and independently wrestled for the WWF under the management of the notorious Mr. Fuji from 1986 to 1988. He even partnered with Kamala for various tag team matches before officially retiring in 1988.
With Sika’s retirement, Afa made his return to the WWF as a wrestling manager for The Headshrinkers, which included his son Samu and his nephew, Fatu. Two years later, he retired from wrestling with his final match coming on May 22, 1994. The brothers eventually settled down in Florida where Sika launched the XW 2000 independent wrestling promotion, which has run family-oriented wrestling shows throughout Florida since 1999. As if that hasn’t kept Sika busy enough, he also teamed up with Afa to open The Wild Samoan Training Center where the legendary Wild Samoans have trained greats like Umaga, Batista, Billy Kidman, Chris Kanyon and Rikishi.
Building their legacy in the ring, Afa and Sika have also built a large family of wrestlers with their children—Rosey and Roman Reigns, Smula, Alfa Jr. and Lloyd—now taking the ring. Their kids even had the honor of inducting The Wild Samoans into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.