Peter Maivia
Peter Maivia.jpg
Birth nameFanene Pita Anderson
Born(1937-04-06)April 6, 1937
American Samoa
Died13 June 1982(1982-06-13) (aged 45)
Hawaii, U.S.
Cause of deathCancer
Spouse(s)Lia Maivia
RelativesDwayne Johnson (grandson)
Nia Jax (grandniece)
FamilyAnoa'i family
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Peter Anderson
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]

Fanene Leifi Pita "Peter" Maivia (born Fanene Pita Anderson; April 6, 1937 – June 13, 1982) was a Samoan-American professional wrestler.[2] Maivia was the maternal grandfather of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and was also part of the famous Anoa'i family. He was also a promoter for the National Wrestling Alliance in Hawaii.[1]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1960-1964)

Maivia made his debut in 1962 at the age of 24.[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 his wrestling career, wrestling not as The High Chief, but as Prince Peter Maivia.[3] Athletic, naturally talented and a quick study, Maivia received his original ring training in New Zealand, under the watchful eye of local wrestler/promoter Steve Rickard.[2][3]

Both in and out of the ring, Rickard taught the young Samoan a great deal about his new profession, and under his guidance, Maivia developed at an amazing rate. On August 3, 1964, after less than a year in the business, the popular rookie sensation stunned New Zealand by toppling the rugged, experienced Rickard to win the prestigious New Zealand Heavyweight title in Auckland.[2] The title victory was impressive, indeed, however Maivia's reign turned out to be extremely short, and he held the coveted New Zealand title for just three days, dropping the championship back to Steve Rickard in Wellington on August 6, 1964.[2] The point had been made though, and from that period forward, Maivia enjoyed main-event status in the NWA's New Zealand territory.[3]

Later in 1964, Maivia followed up his previous success by winning another very prestigious championship, the NWA Australasian Heavyweight title.[3] Maivia became the new Australasian champion by defeating Kangaroo Kennedy in Auckland, and he carried the belt for four consecutive years before finally losing his title 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 other (and often larger) promotions, with success invariably following the popular islander.[2][3]

Maivia in 1975
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, World Class Championship Wrestling, Houston Wrestling, and the American Wrestling Association winning many titles.[2]

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1970–1981)

Maivia in 1977
Maivia in 1977

He joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation in mid-1977.[2] He was one of the company's most prominent stars, making numerous appearances on Championship Wrestling. He worked matches with many well-known wrestlers who later became WWE Hall of Famers, 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 made trips to Hawaii, Japan, Toronto, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New Zealand. He left WWF (WWWF) in 1981.

Later career (1981–1982)

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

Personal life

Maivia, also known as the Flying 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, who became known as Lia Maivia, was regarded as one of the first female wrestling promoters.[6][7] He also adopted Lia's daughter Ata.[7][8]

Maivia disapproved of his daughter's relationship with Rocky Johnson because he was a wrestler.[9] The duo married despite Maivia's objections.[1][2] His sons are Jarrod Holbrook and Peter Jr., also wrestled in Hawaii and the West Coast after the passing of Peter Sr. sometimes under the name "Prince Peter Maivia".

Maivia was considered a "blood brother" by Amituanai Anoa'i, the father of the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika), thus the Anoa'i family regard the Maivia line from him on forward as an extension of their own clan.

Maivia was also in the fifth James Bond film, You Only Live Twice (1967), where he plays 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 the (uncredited) stunt fight co-ordinator for the film.


In 1981, Maivia was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, having reportedly ignored symptoms along with his friends and family’s admonitions 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 son-in-law Rocky Johnson, in 2008 by his grandson Dwayne Johnson; the award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter Ata Maivia-Johnson.[1] On October 19, 2008, Maivia's wife, Lia Maivia, died.[6]


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.[10]


Championships and accomplishments

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "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 n "Peter Maivia profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Peter Maivia". Cagematch. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Ahching, Leiataua Ahching. Polynesian Interconnections (p.19)
  6. ^ a b Oliver, Greg (October 23, 2008). "Lia Maivia was a pioneering woman promoter". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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. ^ The Rock. The Rock Says... (p.6-7)
  10. ^ McCarthy, Kelly (November 21, 2016). "Dwayne Johnson Shed 'Manly Tears' Making Disney's 'Moana'". ABC News. Retrieved November 29, 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "Hawaii Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Hawaii Tag Team Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  15. ^ "NWA Americas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  16. ^ "British Empire Heavyweight Title (New Zealand)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "AWA/NWA United States Heavyweight Title (San Francisco)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 24, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Johnson, Mike (November 20, 2015). "PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING HALL OF FAME MOVING FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK TO TEXAS". PWInsider. Retrieved November 20, 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)