Wild Samoans

Name: Wild Samoans
Year Inducted: 2012

Wild Samoans

Wild Samoans

Born and raised in the island of Samoa, Afa came to San Francisco and joined the Marines at age 17. In the early 1970s, Afa 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 as a wrestling attraction, Afa sent for his older brother Sika, and the Wild Samoans were born.

In Calgary, their first title came quickly in 1973, followed by a reign in Vancouver the same year. Championships followed in Detroit (1975) and Georgia (1982), but it was their WWWF runs that resulted 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

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 seen 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.”

As the 1980s progressed, Afa and Sika dropped out of active wrestling and 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, Pennsylvania, one in Pensacola, Florida, they worked with Dave Bastista, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Three-Minute Warning (Rosie and Jamal), and others.

Afa laughed at their continued popularity. “I get hundreds and hundreds of emails every day wanting to know when we’re coming back in the ring. People don’t just accept the fact that our days are over.” He credits part of it to the way they have aged. “They say that we still look the same. We don’t age, that’s easy for them to say. It’s in the bones. The bones tell us different.”

- Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson

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