The family of wrestling star Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka has reported via Instagram that he has passed away. No cause of death was immediately released, although he had been in hospice care since mid-December. Tamina Snuka posted the following image on Instagram on January 15:
A photo posted by SaronaSnuka (@saronasnukawwe) on Jan 15, 2017 at 11:19am PST
Snuka was one of the early stars of the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), and his theatrical, daredevil style set the stage for much of wrestling’s current image and persona. Here he was as The Undertaker’s first “victim” in Wrestlemania VII:
Snuka’s career began tapering off in the mid-1990s, and by the 2000s he was only appearing in cameo and non-wrestling roles. However, in 2015 even those appearances were halted when a legal matter from Snuka’s past resurfaced.
In 1983, shortly after Snuka made an appearance in Allentown, Pennsylvania, his girlfriend Nancy Argentino died in their hotel room after suffering what an autopsy determined was extensive blunt force trauma. Snuka was not charged at the time, but a 2013 newspaper investigation incited local officials to reopen the cold case. Snuka was charged with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, but those charges were dropped recently when a judge determined him unfit to stand trial.
Snuka was 73, and is survived by his wife and four children.