Superfly Jimmy Snuka electrified crowds soaring off the top rope like a real-life Tarzan.
However, there was more behind the man in leopard print.
In the legend’s “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story” autobiography (with the help of writer Jon Chattman), Snuka recounts his life beginning in the Fiji Islands to forging through the jungles of pro wrestling, which started in 1969.
Snuka, 69, spent four months to tell his interesting tale from his highest of highs to lowest of lows. For the hall of famer, it was important not to hold anything back. The process was therapeutic.
“I had to write this book and tell my story and life,” Snuka said. “I just want to be honest. I was going to be honest about anything I didn’t do right and felt bad about it. That is why I wrote the book. This way I could be free.”
The memoir covers some heavy topics. Snuka is candid about his illiteracy growing up and even the infidelity in his marriage. He talks clashes with his stepfather as a child and eventually meeting his biological father. The wrestling star discusses his drug use and how it may have jeopardized opportunities in WWE. Nothing appeared off-limits, even the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino. He hopes overcoming his demons inspires readers to learn from his struggles.
“To be honest with you brudda, if I did it, everybody else can do it, too, bro,” Snuka said. “That is all it takes. You have to be honest, work hard at it and make sure you take care of number one and go with it. You have to be straight with yourself, and everything will work out right.
“Everything was an open book. That is the way I wanted it. I wanted it to be understandable. I had a good time with brudda Jon [Chattman] going back to my young days. Writing this book wasn’t an easy thing because I had to get some help from Jon to keep talking to me so I could remember all these things that I’ve endured coming up in this beautiful world. It’s about teaching everyone in this world the right thing to do, and that is what I wanted to do, brudda. I feel good about the way it came out.”
Fans will enjoy Snuka reminiscing his most memorable moments, including Rowdy Roddy Piper smashing a coconut over his head and the historic leap off the top of the cage on Don Magnificent Muraco in Madison Square Garden. I myself enjoyed reading about his friendship with Andre the Giant.
Best-selling author Mick Foley, who witnessed the Snuka Splash at MSG in person, provided the introduction to the autobiography. Piper wrote the foreword. Words from family and other colleagues in the business, along with lots of photos, are a fun addition to this easy read.
Snuka was grateful to have many people share words for the book. Among them was a former opponent of his, Bob Backlund, who will join Foley in the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013. A hall of famer himself in WWE and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, N.Y., Snuka loves that Backlund and Foley are going to be honored at the WWE ceremony in MSG during WrestleMania 29 Week.
“They deserve it,” Snuka said. “Mick Foley and Bob deserve everything. It makes me feel good to see all these guys getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and meeting them and talking to them. They have just a lovable spirit.”
This literary project helped occupy Snuka’s time as he recuperated from a very extensive ankle replacement. It was a foot reconstruction in January 2012 that required six or seven months of pretty much doing nothing, which Snuka isn’t accustomed to.
There are bolts in his heel, his toes, and he basically has a new ankle, but he believes he is walking now better than he has in years. As Snuka reiterates in the memoir, he believes his days in the ring aren’t over.
He has wrestled twice already but says he had to wear his boots instead of going barefoot (a trademark) as a precaution.
“It has worked out so far,” Snuka said. “That was three months ago. Whenever they call, these promoters, my wife takes care of that. I’m ready. I’ve been training hard and trying to get back in shape. If I don’t get back in shape, then I may as well forget about the ring…I still love what I do and can still do it. It’s up to me to prove it to the people.”
Aside from his own career, Snuka has enjoyed watching his son, Jimmy Snuka Jr. (former WWE superstar Sim Snuka and Domino) and daughter, Tamina. The WWE diva has paid tribute to her dad by using his Superfly Splash and shaka (I Love You) hand signal in the past.
“She loved [wrestling] ever since she was young,” Snuka said. “Most of the time when I would come back and try to go to sleep, the kids would Superfly Splash me in bed. That tells me, ‘Uh oh, okay then.’
“I made sure, though, all my kids graduated college. Sarona [Tamina] is a very smart girl. She wanted to learn martial arts, just like my son. I taught them both. I’m so proud of her out there. Hopefully, things will work out good for her.
“…I’m very grateful to my daughter for keeping her name on the list there. I’m really proud of her. She really surprises me at times when she is in there. I get tears in my eyes. That’s the love that I have for her. It’s a beautiful trademark brudda.”
The proud dad wouldn’t mind stepping into a WWE ring one day with his children.
“That would be great if they can bring me back for a show and bring my son back and have a three-way tag team,” he said. “That would be a family affair.”
• “Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story” (Triumph Books, 256 pages) is available now. For information on the book and signings, visit http://www.jimmysuperflysnuka.com.
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