Jimmy Snuka, the legendary wrestler whose fame was at its peak in the 1970’s and 1980’s, is battling stomach cancer, TMZ is reporting.
In an interview with wrestling reporter Bill Apter, Jimmy’s wife, Carole Snuka, revealed that Jimmy recently underwent surgery that removed part of his stomach and lymph nodes. You can watch a video of the interview, originally posted on YouTube, below.
“The doctors said he did very well. They’re very happy with the outcome. He still has a long road ahead of him, and the doctor says he’s an amazingly strong man. We all know how strong Jimmy is, and Jimmy can take a beating…. He also wants to let his fans know that he’s not done yet.”
This is not the first major health issue to face Jimmy Snuka: in 2011, the then-68-year-old wrestler underwent ankle surgery, and fans helped pay the $24,000 cost of that surgery, according to Bleacher Report. At the time, Snuka was barely able to walk as his ankles having endured decades of punishment in the ring.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka (real name: James Wiley Reiher) became one of the most famous wrestlers of his day, known for his trademark phrase, “Bruddah,” his high-flying acrobatic moves, and his intense rivalry with Rowdy Roddy Piper. In one particularly memorable incident, Snuka appeared in Piper’s Pit for an interview, only to have Piper smash a coconut on his head when Snuka wasn’t looking.
Despite their manufactured-for-the-cameras rivalry, the two men actually respected and loved one another. In Sunday’s interview, Carole Snuka said that Jimmy was devastated by the news of Roddy Piper’s passing last week, and she issued a statement on behalf of her husband.
“Jimmy and I would just like to, first-off, extend our heartfelt condolences to Roddy Piper’s wife, Kitty, and their four children. It was very difficult for me to tell Jimmy about the passing of his wrestling brother. But I did, and we cried together, and Jimmy reminisced about their many good times that they had together.”
As has been the case for many former professional wrestlers, life outside the ring has not been kind to Jimmy Snuka. His body is in shambles due to decades of punishing abuse in the ring, and he’s battled with drug and alcohol addiction.
Nevertheless, the Snuka family name lives on in professional wrestling: Jimmy Snuka’s daughter, Tamina, currently competes in the WWE Divas Division.
[Image courtesy of Twitter]