One of the funniest moments I remember of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka was while attending the 2012 Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet dinner in Amsterdam, New York. Snuka was being inducted that night and right at the end of his acceptance speech, he said this:
I'm honored to be inducted on the same weekend as my birthday. I'm 69 years old. ... my favorite number, bruddas.
I'm paraphrasing, but that was the punchline. The room laughed and "Superfly" flashed one of his trademark smiles, and the "I love you" hand gesture that wrestling fans have associated with him for decades.
This scene mostly describes Snuka's new autobiography -- "Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story." A man, nearing 70 years of age, full of respect, gratitude and humor, with a sprinkle of bitterness, reflecting on his career in a very cold and unforgiving business. Throw in "brudda" every third sentence, and you have the book's essence.
At 213 pages, the bio isn't a heavy read, and a quick reader can get through it in a few hours -- the back pages are dedicated to a "Snuk-tionary" (which are words and terms Snuka often uses, along with definitions), a timeline of important matches/results throughout his career, and a Snuka family tree -- all things that were welcome and informative, even if designed primarily to add pages to the book.
The book spends a fair amount of time on Snuka's childhood, particularly the poor treatment he received from his stepfather, including getting physically and mentally abused. Snuka moved around a lot, from island to island in the Pacific, but it is clear that he is very proud of his Fijian heritage -- the first page even begins with "bula bula vinaka," which translates to "hello" from his native language.
As most wrestling fans would hope, the majority of the book focuses on Snuka's wrestling career -- including the days before he became the "Superfly." There are stories and anecdotes equally about life inside and outside the ring.
The most interesting story inside the ring to me was when Snuka was scheduled to become WWWF champion, beating Bob Backlund -- so he claims, he refused the opportunity when he was offered, to prolong the feud, stating multiple times throughout the book that the title, and the glory that came with it, didn't mean all that much to him.
That moment never came again for him, and sadly, a parallel theme to this is his perceived bitterness to many injustices he feels happened to him in his career. Toward the likes of Hulk Hogan getting a main-event push rather than him, which was apparently promised to him, and Hogan refusing to work with him at WrestleMania 6. Also toward the fact that he wasn't in a wrestling role at the first WrestleMania and Mr. T was.
There is one other line in the book, which many fans have heard all too often regarding veteran pro wrestlers: "I can honestly say that I have none of the money I earned during my biggest WWF days."
A lot of that money was spent in the moment. Personal demons are a dominant part of the book -- Snuka pulls no punches talking about his ways with alcohol, drugs, steroids and women, and how his lifestyle was a big downfall in his never taking the next step in his career. He talks in detail about his infidelity on the road, and even a story or two about colleagues. Snuka also addresses his deep personal and financial issues with his first wife, Sharon, and discusses in detail the death of Nancy Argentino, whom he was linked to.
At times throughout the bio, it sounds like Snuka still wants to perform in the ring, despite years of wear and tear on his body, having endured countless injuries. This is not surprising. Nor is the fact that he claims he was contacted by producers to be the original inspiration behind Mickey Rourke's character Randy "The Ram" Robinson in the movie, "The Wrestler." Much like any pro wrestler, who is programmed to get themselves attention and convince crowds to feel a certain emotion and emit a certain response, Snuka claims, true or not, that many things were his idea (for example, The Rock's eyebrow).
One big positive of the book is the inclusion of several points of view -- including siblings, his wife Carole, his children (including former WWE Superstar Deuce and current WWE Diva Tamina Snuka), and many colleagues and opponents in pro wrestling. The foreword was written by Roddy Piper and the introduction by Mick Foley.
Overall, the book certainly has it's charm and fair share of interesting stories.
You can purchase the book from the publisher, Triumph Books, here.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun