Former professional wrestler Jimmy Snuka has has died, aged 73. The Fijian who was popularly known as “Superfly” had been living in hospice care and was told in late 2016 that he had just months to live. Snuka wrestled for several promotions from the 1970s to 2010s. He was best known for his time in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) in the early to mid-1980s and was credited with introducing the high-flying style of wrestling to the WWF. He was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996. Snuka was the first WrestleMania opponent of The Undertaker (at the seventh annual event), this being the first match in The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. Snuka was the inaugural ECW Heavyweight Champion (a title he held twice) in Eastern Championship Wrestling (later Extreme Championship Wrestling). His children, Jimmy Reiher, Jr. and Tamina Snuka, are also wrestlers.
Snuka was indicted and arrested in September 2015 on third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, in relation to the May 1983 death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, who died from injuries a coroner described as consistent with domestic violence. In the decades before the criminal charges, Argentino’s suspected homicide was a cold case in which Snuka was the only suspect. Snuka pleaded not guilty, but was ultimately found unfit to stand trial in June 2016 due to being diagnosed with dementia. His health had further declined, and in December 2016 his legal representative announced he had 6 months left to live due to his terminal illness. The charges were dismissed on January 3, 2017, when Snuka was deemed unfit to stand trial. He died twelve days later.
Snuka was the part-owner of Body Slam University and Coastal Championship Wrestling in South Florida with Dan Ackerman and Bruno Sassi. He wrote an autobiography, Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story, which was published on December 1, 2012. Snuka was married three times. His second marriage was to Sharon, with whom he had four children: Sarona, James, Jr., Liana, and Ata. His third marriage was to Carole on September 4, 2004. He was stepfather to Carole’s three children: Bridget, Richard, and Dennis.