Professional wrestling and WWE legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka passed away on Sunday, his daughter and WWE superstar Tamina Snuka announced on her Instagram page. He was 73.
A photo posted by SaronaSnuka (@saronasnukawwe) on
While dealing numerous legal troubles, the Fiji native Snuka was also fighting numerous health issues that gave him months to live. In August, 2015, Snuka’s wife Carole revealed to Bill Apter of 1Wrestling that Snucka was battling stomach cancer. She added that part of Snuka’s recovery included surgery to remove part of his stomach and lymph nodes.
“He still has a long road ahead of him, and the doctor says he’s an amazingly strong man,” Snuka’s wife Carole said at the time. “We all know how strong Jimmy is, and Jimmy can take a beating.”
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 15, 2017
In early December, it was reported that Snuka was living in Florida hospice care and had six months to live due to terminal illness.
In September 1, 2015, Snuka was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter — 32 years after the mysterious death of his then girlfriend Nancy Argentino. Snuka’s attorney revealed his client is battling dementia and claimed he is unfit to stand trial.
“Ask him a question, he smiles and nods,” Snuka’s attorney William E. Moore said of his client’s mental capability. (via New York Daily News) “Ask him enough questions, and he’ll admit to the Kennedy assassination — ‘Yeah, I was there on the grassy knoll.'”
Snuka’s legendary career aside, the last few months of his life were mired in legal trouble. His arrest brought back the infamous case of Argentino, where he was long known to be the only suspect, back into mainstream spotlight. However, on Jan.3, Snuka was cleared of murder charges after he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, as the Inquisitr reported.
Argentino passed away on May 10, 1983, after Snuka — who wrestled a WWF live event just hours earlier — placed a call for an ambulance for Argentino. She was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to the hospital; Snuka remained the only suspect in the case for over 30 years without any formal charges filed.
Snuka began his career as a professional bodybuilder in Hawaii but decided to turn to professional wrestling in search of a steadier income. He made his professional debut in 1970 under the name Jimmy Kealoha and wrestled for numerous National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) territories throughout the 1970s. Snuka held numerous tag team titles in that span and boasted one reign as NWA United States Heavyweight champion.
In 1982, Snuka made his way to the World Wrestling Federation as a villainous character alongside his manager Captain Lou Albano. Snuka’s matches with then champion Bob Backlund defined his career and catapulted him into stardom.
— TAZ (@OfficialTAZ) January 15, 2017
Snuka’s charisma and athletic style quickly made him a fan favorite and his feud with Don Muraco in 1983 cemented his place in history. An iconic dive off the top of a steel cage at Madison Square Garden on October 17, 1983, onto Muraco is an iconic moment in WWE history — future stars Mick Foley, The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, and Bubba Ray Dudley were all in attendance for that match and claimed it inspired them to pursue professional wrestling.
Snucka left WWF in 1985 and wrestled for the American Wrestling Association (AWA) for several years before returning to WWF in April 1989. Snuka is famous for being the first man The Undertaker defeated at Wrestlemania — beginning his iconic streak. He departed in 1992 into semi-retirement and made appearances for various companies, including Eastern Championship Wrestling, a return to WWF, and more.
Snucka was a part of the 1996 WWF Hall of Fame class.
[Featured Image by Joe Stevens/AP Photo]