MANILA, Philippines – Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, the high-flying wrestling grappler from the World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Golden Era”, has died at the age of 73.
Snuka’s daughter, who currently wrestles in the WWE as Tamina Snuka, broke the news on her Instagram on Monday, January 16.
Snuka’s death comes just after charges of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter connected to the 1983 death of his then-girlfriend Nancy Argentino were dismissed earlier this month due to being ruled unfit to stand trial, according to a report on Lehigh Valley Live.
The charges in the 33-year-old case had been reopened in 2015 but the prosecution stalled when a doctor testified at a competency hearing that Snuka had been diagnosed with dementia and post-concussive disorder. Snuka’s wife Carole Snuka had told the court last month that Snuka was in hospice care.
Wrestling fans will likely remember him as one of the most colorful characters in wrestling during the 1980s. Born in Fiji, the former body builder quickly gained a reputation for his intense presence and the distance he was able to soar with his Flying Splash from the top turnbuckle.
Snuka debuted in the WWE in 1982 and was quickly inserted into the main event opposite champion Bob Backlund, never grabbing the title but elevating himself with his athleticism. Snuka cemented himself as a legend the following year during his feud with Don Muraco, executing one of the iconic moments in WWE history by landing his splash from the top of a steel cage in Madison Square Garden.
Snuka was also part of another memorable moment when he was hit in the head with a coconut and had a banana shoved down his mouth by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper during a “Piper’s Pit” segment, a racially charged skit which created intense heat for the “heel” Piper. Snuka left the company in 1985 but returned for another run in 1989 as a mid-carder, and was The Undertaker’s first opponent during his WrestleMania winning streak at WrestleMania 7.
Among those reacting online to Snuka’s passing was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a relative of Snuka’s through the intertwined Anoaʻi family clan, saying “Our family @TaminaSnuka asked me to share the sad news that her dad Jimmy Snuka has just passed away. Alofa atu i le aiga atoa. #RIPSuperfly.”
Snuka was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996 and last performed in a WWE ring at WrestleMania 25 in a “Legends of WrestleMania” match alongside Ric Flair, Chris Jericho and Ricky Steamboat. – Rappler.com