Fijian WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka died today at the age of 73 after a battle with stomach cancer.
The death evokes mixed feelings for many wrestling fans. Snuka was one of the most popular performers in what was then called the World Wrestling Federation during the 1980’s, but has been embroiled in real-life controversy including being arrested in September 2015 and charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in relation to the May 1983 death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino.
Snuka pleaded not guilty to the charges, and in June 2016 was deemed unfit to stand trial due to being diagnosed with dementia. In December his lawyer announced that he was terminally ill, and just last week the charge was dropped. While he was never convicted of any crime, a great deal of mystery still surrounds the mysterious death, and he is the only known suspect.
While his personal life is murky, there’s no ambiguity about Superfly’s excellence in the fing. He was a pioneer in the industry for his innovative high-flying style, which is now commonplace in wrestling. After debuting with the company in 1982, he continued to make sporadic appearances for the next several decades, last appearing on Raw in 2010.
Here’s video of Snuka’s most iconic moment, when at Madison Square Garden he did the unheard of and jumped from the top of a steel cage.
Snuka was inducted into the WWF (now WWE) Hall of Fame in 1996. His daughter Tamina has been a WWE performer since 2010.