Superstar Lookback: Yokozuna

Rodney A. Anoa’i or better known for his in-ring name, Yokozuna, was a renowned two-time heavyweight champion in WWE. The term yokozuna refers to the highest rank in professional sumo wrestling in Japan. Although the “Yokozuna” character was portrayed as a champion sumo wrestler, Anoa’i had never competed as an actual sumotori and he was never a Japanese.

He was a Samoan wrestler and had strong ties with many other wrestlers in the corporation. Afa and Sika were his uncles. Samu, Rosey, Rikishi and Hollywood actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were amongst his long list of cousins.

His first debut in American Wrestling Association, in 1980s, created much stir. Back then, wrestling was not cooked up. At one of his few early appearances, he literally broke the leg of Greg Gagne, ending his luxurious career. He switched to WWE soon after, with a new manager and new gimmick.

At that time Anoa’i was one of the few Samoan wrestler who was underpaid. Despite intense competition then, he was loyal and never left WWE for ECW or WCW. He had many famous feud, including Undertaker, Owen Hart, Jake Roberts, Disel, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.

He departed the world at the age of 34. As we are riding towards the 21st Royal Rumble wave, let’s us take a minute and applaud for the 6th Royal Rumble winner, Yokozuna.

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