The Superfly 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 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 inaugural ECW World Heavyweight Champion (a title he held twice) in Eastern Championship Wrestling (later Extreme Championship Wrestling). His children, Sim Snuka and Tamina Snuka are both professional wrestlers.
Snuka opted to go into the more lucrative career of professional wrestling due to the uncertainty of his making a living in bodybuilding. Snuka made his debut as Jimmy Kealoha fighting Maxwell “Bunny” Butler in Hawaii in 1970.
He later moved to the mainland and wrestled for Don Owen’s NWA Pacific Northwest territory where he held the belt as heavyweight champion six times. He first won the title by pinning Bull Ramos on November 16, 1973. It was in this territory that he transformed himself into Jimmy Snuka. Snuka also held the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship six times with partner Dutch Savage. Snuka also had a two-year feud with another rookie, Jesse “the Body” Ventura. Snuka eventually made his way to the NAWA where he had a long standing feud with The Godfather Tony Capone which lasted on and off for decades.
In August 2015, Snuka’s wife, Carole, announced that he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. On December 2, 2016, it was announced that Snuka was in hospice and had six months left to live, due to a terminal illness.
He died on January 15, 2017, at age 73 in Pompano Beach, Florida.