Leati Sika Amituana’i Anoa’i, who wrestled as Sika as a part of the Wild Samoans tag team with his brother, Afa, has died. He was 79.

He is also the father of WWE superstar Roman Reigns (Joe Anoa’i).

Details of his passing on June 25, 2024, are not known at this time. His family confirmed the news, which follows a series of close scare health updates on Afa.

Sika was born April 5, 1945, in Leone, American Samoa, one of 13 children. His brother, Afa, who was three years older, moved to San Francisco and joining the Marines at 17. In the early ’70s, he began training for pro wrestling with High Chief Peter Maivia and Rocky Johnson. Another worker, Ricky Thompson, took him to Arizona where he furthered his training under Kurt von Steiger and began competing. Once established, Afa sent for his brother Sika, and the Wild Samoans were born.

The Wild Samoans on a Vancouver program from 1973.

Their first title came quickly, in 1973 in Calgary, followed by a reign in Vancouver the same year. “They were relatively green when they were here, but they were such a pair of bulls. They looked the part, and they had some good talent to work with here,” said Stampede Wrestling’s Saskatchewan promoter/photographer/referee Bob Leonard in The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. “I seemed to always get their match. That goddamn big Sika, you’d be trying to push him back in the corner, and he’s just standing there. He would not move for you. It was funny. ‘Get back in that corner.’ He’s going, ‘Heh, heh, heh.'”

Championships followed in Detroit (’75) and Georgia (’82), but it was their WWWF runs, resulting in three different championships that most defined the Samoans. “They were, as we used to say in the magazines ‘a well oiled tag team machine!'” said journalist Bill Apter. “They were excellent but even better when ‘Captain’ Lou Albano became their manager in the WWWF.”

Sika, Captain Lou Albano and Afa together again. — photo courtesy The Wild Samoan Training Center

“They were vicious type people. When I saw vicious, I don’t mean in personality, I mean inside of the ring,” said Albano, who considered the Samoans his favorite team. “They really loved to get in there and battle. They’d whack each other. In fact, as brothers sometimes, they’d get in the ring and just start arguing and have a battle.”

Tony Garea faced their often, and traded the WWWF World tag titles alongside Rick Martel with them. They were classic tag team battles, recalled Garea. “I’d never met the Samoans. The first time we worked, Gorilla Monsoon said, ‘You guys are working and this is the finish.’ We talked, and I suggested a way of having the match and they said, ‘Okay, brother.’ We had it and we came out, and they were delighted with the match. It was just my philosophy, having a match, the psychology of it.

Garea expanded on his philosophy: “Make us look good for seven, eight minutes and then we’re all yours, Rick and I, we would sell for say, five, six minutes, and make the tag and come in full of piss and vinegar and fire, and have them cut us off. And then sell again for five or six minutes. Now you get the tag and cut us off again. The next time was the real one. We had the people going up and down, up and down.”

The stories of the toughness of the Wild Samoans are legion. Perhaps none compare to a match in Jackson, Miss., against Jake Roberts and Junk Yard Dog. Roberts hot tagged JYD, who “came running in the ring doing that Junkyard Dog gimmick. He was very excited and I tried to calm him down. So he started throwing punches, stuff like that,” recalled Afa. “He hit me right by my eye, and my eyeball, it popped out. It was hanging there. I yelled at him, saying ‘I’m hurt. My eye is hurt … So I had my hand here, holding my eye and I knew my eyeball was right here so I held on to it because I didn’t know what to do. I could see my career going down the line … So I fell back into the corner and I tagged my brother, and my brother came in and continued the match.” As Sika finished the match, Afa popped the eyeball back in, though a little hair got in the way and it had to be reinserted. In the dressing room, a doctor tended to him and sterilized the area. At the hospital, a physician told him he was within seconds of losing sight because of the stretch of muscles. Today, he has perfect vision.

Bill Watts concurred. “Afa and Sika were a formidable team … Afa and Sika were a great team, that gimmick of theirs, they were tough guys, they were tough guys. You had to believe in them.”

Sika explained why it worked. “My brother and I were so good because we knew what the other was thinking all the time,” said Sika in an interview on the Wild Samoan training camp website. “We also had an advantage since we spoke Samoan and no one knew what we were saying. We were the best because we put our heart and soul into every match.”

They had loyal Samoan followings, even when working as heels, said Randy Colley, who worked against them as Moondog Rex. “We worked together so many times over the country. I don’t think there’s a state or a country we hadn’t worked in. All over Australia,” he recalled. “Afa and Sika, they were just natural. In California, I didn’t know they had so many Samoans …They were at the back door, and we could hardly get in the building! They knew we were going to wrestle Afa and Sika. They wanted to kill us before we even got to the ring!”

One of the teams the Samoans beat for the WWWF titles were the Strongbows. Jules Strongbow (Frank Hill) recalled his initial foray into the ring against them. “The first time, it was kind of intimidating because I had only seem tapes of them and watched them wrestle. I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I kind of got the feeling that they were there to have fun. They were there to make the money and enjoy what they were doing at the same time, because that’s what they had been doing all of their life.”

Indeed, as the 1980s progressed, Afa and Sika dropped out of active wrestling, but turned their attention to training the next generation of Samoan warriors and managing. Afa took the Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) to WWF tag team gold in 1994. Through their Wild Samoan Training Centers — one in Whitehall, Penn., one in Pensacola, Fla., they worked with Dave Batista, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Three-Minute Warning — Rosie and Jamal, and others.

The Samoan Dynasty in 2017, with Wild Samoan Sika and Afa seated in front, included, from left, LA Smooth, Tonga Kid, Rikishi, Haku, Samu, Lance Anoa'i, and Afa Jr. Photo by George Tahinos, Slam Wrestling, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com

The Samoan Dynasty in 2017, with Wild Samoan Sika and Afa seated in front, included, from left, LA Smooth, Tonga Kid, Rikishi, Haku, Samu, Lance Anoa’i, and Afa Jr. Photo by George Tahinos, Slam Wrestling, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com

With his wife Patricia Hooker, who was of Italian descent, Sika had five children: Vanessa, Myritza, Matt — who was Rosey — Summer, and Joe.

“We grew up with a wrestling ring our backyard,” said Vanessa on the A&E Biography on Roman Reigns. There was a much bigger family, of course, and the twins who would later become Jimmy and Jey Uso were at the house all the time. The Bloodline in WWE is not just a storyline, even if they are not actually all related by blood, and includes Umaga, Yokozuna, Rikishi, the Tonga Kid, Rocky Johnson and The Rock.

“Pretty much any Pacific Islander that’s been involved in wrestling is related to me,” said Afa Jr., who was born and raised in Allentown, Penn., told the Tampa Tribune in 2007.

Since the Wild Samoans were heels, Matt Anoa’i (who was 15 years older than Joe/Roman) said they had to deal with that at school, always being challenged to fights.

“It was like gypsy life,” Matt Anoa’i told Yahoo Sports in 2015. “Dad started wrestling when I was five years old. Once he got started, it was pretty much me, my dad, mom and our dog. We’d travel around in a Toyota. … Every year I would have to switch schools because he would have to switch territories.”

The Wild Samoans, Sika and Afa, in 2015. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn

The Wild Samoans, Sika and Afa, in 2015. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn

As a singles wrestler, Sika had a short run in the WWF, starting in August 1986. He was managed by The Wizard (King Curtis Iaukea) and then by Mr. Fuji and Kim Chee, teaming with Kamala. The biggest moment during that time period was Sika unsuccessfully challenging WWF World champion Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night’s Main Event, which aired on October 3, 1987. His last bout was at WrestleMania IV, competing in the battle royal.

Away from the ring, the Samoans can be seen in the 1986 movie Body Slam.

Sika retired from in-ring action in 1991. He ran a security company in California for a time but is best known for the school in Florida.

The Wild Samoans were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2007, by Sika’s son Matt and Afa’s son Samu.

In June 2020, Reigns posted a note about his father to social media: “I wish he was able to see me more often before, and I wish I could see him more often now. Regardless he is my Dad. He gave me life, and nothing can ever replace that. We probably don’t say it enough but there’s no doubt in my heart, I love you Dad and I know you love me. Happy Father’s Day.”

Sika was a part of a ceremonial anointing of Reigns as the High Chief in the Bloodline storyline.

Wrestling world mourns Wild Samoan Sika

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