Peter Maivia
Maivia in 1977
Birth nameFanene Pita Anderson
Born(1937-04-06)April 6, 1937
American Samoa
DiedJune 13, 1982(1982-06-13) (aged 45)
Hawaii, U.S.
Cause of deathCancer
(m. 1953; died 1982)
RelativesDwayne Johnson (grandson)
Nia Jax (grandniece)
FamilyAnoa'i family
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Prince Peter Maivia
High Chief Peter Maivia
Billed height5 ft 9 in (175 cm)[1]
Billed weight275 lb (125 kg)[1]
Billed from"The Isle of Samoa"[1]
Trained bySteve Rickard[1]
RetiredFebruary 11, 1982

Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia (born Fanene Pita Anderson; April 6, 1937 – June 13, 1982), better known as Peter Maivia, was a Samoan-American professional wrestler, actor and stunt coordinator.[2] Maivia was the grandfather of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson via adoption, and was also part of the famous Anoa'i family via blood brother pact. He was also the promoter of the National Wrestling Alliance member Polynesian Pro Wrestling in Hawaii.[1]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1960–1964)

Maivia made his debut in 1960 at the age of 23.[3] He worked for NWA Hawaii, and in other places including France, and the United Kingdom.[3]

New Zealand and Australia (1964–1968)

After spending his first twenty years in American Samoa, Maivia moved to New Zealand.[2] He began competing, wrestling under the ring name Prince Peter Maivia.[3] Athletic, naturally talented and quick to learn, Maivia received training in New Zealand, under the watchful eye of local wrestler and promoter Steve Rickard.[2][3]

Both in and out of the ring, Rickard taught the young Samoan a great deal about professional wrestling, and under his guidance, Maivia developed at an amazing rate. On August 3, 1964, after less than a year in the business, the rookie sensation stunned New Zealand by defeating Rickard to win the prestigious New Zealand Heavyweight Championship.[2] The title victory was impressive, however Maivia's reign was extremely short, and he held the championship for just three days, dropping the championship back to Rickard on August 6, 1964.[2] The point had been made though, and from then onward, Maivia enjoyed main-event status in the NWA's New Zealand territory.[3]

Later in 1964, Maivia followed up his previous success by winning the NWA Australasian Heavyweight Championship.[3] Maivia became the new Australasian champion by defeating Kangaroo Kennedy, and he carried the belt for four years before finally losing it to Steve Rickard in 1968.[2] After developing his repertoire and ring skills in New Zealand, Maivia slowly began to branch out and take bookings in larger promotions, with success invariably following the popular islander.[2][3]

Maivia in 1975

Various promotions (1968–1977)

Maivia continued working mainly in Hawaii during most of his career. In 1968 he worked for International Wrestling Enterprise in Japan.[2] From 1969 to 1975 he worked in NWA San Francisco, NWA Hollywood, WCCW, Houston Wrestling, and the AWA winning many championships in the process.[2]

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1977–1981)

Maivia in 1977

He joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation in mid-1977.[2] He was one of the company's biggest stars, working matches with many top wrestlers such as Superstar Billy Graham, Ivan Putski and Bob Backlund.[2][3] He turned heel for the first time in his career in 1978 on Backlund in a match against Spiros Arion and Victor Rivera.[2][3] During his tenure in the WWWF, he also competed in Hawaii, Japan, Toronto, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Zealand. He left the WWWF, which had now been renamed to the WWF, in 1981.

Later career (1981–1982)

After leaving the WWF, Maivia returned to California and won the NWA Americas Heavyweight Championship.[2] He wrestled in his last match in Hawaii in February 1982, defeating Victor Rivera in a singles match. He retired on February 11, 1982, due to his battle with cancer.[4]

Personal life

Maivia, also known as the Flyinʻ Hawaiian, was of the Ali'i lineage of Malietoa.[5] Maivia's traditional Samoan tattoos, which covered his abdomen and legs, were a symbol of his High Chief status.[1] According to Superstar Billy Graham, they were completed in three days. His wife Ofelia Fuataga, more commonly known as Lia Maivia, was one of the first female professional wrestling promoters.[6][7] Maivia had two children; his two sons, Jarrod Holbrook (Toa Maivia) and Peter Jr., are also wrestlers; mostly wrestling in Hawaii and West Coast-based promotions. He also later adopted Lia's daughter Ata.[7][8]

Maivia was the blood brother of Amituanai Anoa'i, the father of the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika), and thus the Anoa'i family regard the Maivia family as part of their own family.

Maivia was also an actor, appearing in the fifth James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, where he played a driver who transports a disguised Bond to Osato headquarters. His character also fights Bond, is hit with a sofa, wields a katana, and is put down when a statue is broken on his head. He was also the film's stunt fight co-ordinator.


In 1981, Maivia was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, having reportedly ignored symptoms along with his friends and family's requests to see a doctor.[3] He died on June 13, 1982, at the age of 45.[1]


Maivia was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, along with his daughter's ex-husband Rocky Johnson, in 2008 by his grandson Dwayne Johnson, with the award being accepted on his behalf by his daughter Ata Maivia-Johnson.[1]

In the 2016 Disney animated film, Moana, the character design of Maui was derived from photographs of Peter Maivia, according to interviews with his grandson, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who voices Maui in the film.[9]


Championships and accomplishments

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Hall of Fame: High Chief Peter Maivia". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Peter Maivia profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Von Slagle, Stephen (June 4, 2020). "Peter Maivia". History of Wrestling. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Peter Maivia". Cagematch. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  5. ^ Ahching, Leiataua Ahching. Polynesian Interconnections (p.19)
  6. ^ Oliver, Greg (October 23, 2008). "Lia Maivia was a pioneering woman promoter". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Grasso, John (2014). Historical Dictionary of Wrestling. Scarecrow Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780810879263. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  8. ^ Brecher, Elinor J. (25 October 2008). "Grandmother of 'The Rock,' promoter". Miami Herald.
  9. ^ McCarthy, Kelly (November 21, 2016). "Dwayne Johnson Shed 'Manly Tears' Making Disney's 'Moana'". ABC News. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  10. ^ "Hawaii Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  11. ^ "Hawaii Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  12. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  13. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  14. ^ "NWA Americas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  15. ^ "British Empire Heavyweight Title (New Zealand)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  16. ^ "AWA/NWA United States Heavyweight Title (San Francisco)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  17. ^ Johnson, Mike (November 20, 2015). "PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING HALL OF FAME MOVING FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK TO TEXAS". PWInsider. Retrieved November 20, 2015.