Wrestler 'Umaga' Edward Fatu dies of heart attack, friend says
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
- Known as "The Samoan Bulldozer," Fatu was a member of the Anoa'i wrestling family
- Relatives include cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and uncles The Wild Samoans
- WWE says it terminated his contract for violating Wellness Program, refusing to enter rehab
- Fatu was looking forward to spending time with children after leaving WWE, friend says
(CNN) -- Wrestler Edward Fatu, better known as the hulking, tattooed WWE superstar "Umaga," died Friday of a heart attack in a Houston, Texas, hospital, a family friend said.
Born in American Samoa, Fatu, 36, was a member of the famous Anoa'i wrestling family, which includes cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, his two uncles, who wrestled as The Wild Samoans in the 1980s, and brothers, Sam "Tonga Kid" and Solofa Jr. "Rikishi," according to Wrestlers Rescue, a support group for retired professional wrestlers.
The two-time WWE Intercontinental champion, also known as "The Samoan Bulldozer," squared off with the likes of Triple H, John Cena and Ric Flair before the WWE terminated his contract in June for having violated the WWE's Wellness Program and refusing to enter rehab, the WWE said on its site.
The organization offered its condolences to his family in a brief statement on its site.
To friends and family, Fatu was a devoted father who was looking forward to spending more time with his children after leaving the WWE.
"He had his demons, but he found a lot of strength in his family," said Dawn Marie Psaltis, family friend and founder of Wrestlers Rescue. "He was always a jokester, he was always playing a practical joke on someone. He comes from a long line of professional wrestlers and did his family proud."