Tonga Fifita

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Tonga Fifita
Born (1959-02-03) February 3, 1959 (age 55)[1]
Nukuʻalofa, Tonga[1]
Resides Kissimmee, Florida[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Haku[1]
King Haku[1]
King Tonga[1]
Meng[1]
Prince Tonga[1]
Tonga Fifita[1]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Billed weight 275 lb (125 kg)[1]
Billed from Tonga
Trained by Giant Baba[1]
Debut 1978[1]

Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifita (born February 3, 1959) is a semi-retired Tongan professional wrestler, known for his appearances in both World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[1] In WCW, he wrestled under the name Meng; in the WWF, he wrestled under the names King Tonga, King Haku, and Haku.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Growing up on the main island of the South Pacific island-kingdom of Tonga, Fifita attended Tonga College where he played rugby union. At the age of 10, he was part of a group of teenagers sent by the King of Tonga to Japan to study Sumo. Sione Vailahi, who would later become better known as pro-wrestler "The Barbarian", was also a part of this group. After moving to Japan in 1974, he competed under the shikona (sumo name) of Fukunoshima (福ノ島?). He made his debut in November 1974 and reached the rank of Makushita 27. However, in 1975 the stablemaster who recruited him died, and he and five other Tongan wrestlers got entangled in a dispute with his successor, which led to him being forced to retire by the Japan Sumo Association in 1976.[2]

Under the guidance of two other former sumotori who had turned to puroresu, Genichiro Tenryu and Takashi Ishikawa, he joined their home promotion, All Japan Pro Wrestling. Early in his career, he also refereed matches in the Amarillo territory. Nevertheless, this merely served as a springboard for him to wrestle all over the world.

In the early 1980s, Fifita, taking the name King Tonga, wrestled in Canada for Frank Valois' International Wrestling promotion based in Montreal. The heel Tonga was managed by former wrestler Tarzan "The Boot" Tyler. Tonga feuded with the top stars of the promotion, including Dino Bravo. A face turn appeared to be in the offing, as Tonga interfered in a tag match, attacking Road Warrior Animal and Paul Ellering during a bout with Jos LeDuc and Jacques Rougeau, Jr. A miscommunication in another tag match with partner Butch Reed led to Reed and Tyler attacking Tonga. He worked in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council where he feuded with Invader 1 and won many titles such as the WWC North American Tag Team Championship with El Gran Apolo, The WWC World Tag Team Championship with Hercules Hernandez and the WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship. Tonga formed a team with his until-then rival Dino Bravo, and the two became successful, including a win over the Road Warriors at the Montreal Forum.

World Wrestling Federation (1986-1992)[edit]

In 1986, King Tonga, in his rookie year in the World Wrestling Federation, became a star by bodyslamming Big John Studd on Championship Wrestling, though predictably Studd's manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan didn't pay him the US$15,000 he promised to anyone who could body slam Studd. He made a name for himself as Haku in the WWF as half of "The Islanders" with Tama. Originally a fan-favorite team, The Islanders had mixed success, though they did win a $50,000 Tag-team Battle Royal at Madison Square Garden in October 1986. They turned heel in 1987 during a match on the WWF Superstars of Wrestling with the Can-Am Connection (Tom Zenk and Rick Martel). Earlier in the show heel manager Bobby "The Brain" had announced he would have a new tag-team that night and everyone thought he was going to introduce a new team to the WWF. Instead he showed up at ringside during the match where it became known his "new" team was in fact The Islanders. The team had a classic feud with the British Bulldogs that was started when the Islanders, along with Bobby Heenan, kidnapped the Bulldogs' mascot, a Bulldog named Matilda. Their feud ended after a 6-man tag team match at Wrestlemania IV where The Islanders and Heenan (wearing an attack dog outfit) defeated the Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware when Heenan pinned Koko.

In 1988, following King Harley Race's legitimate stomach injury sustained in a match against Hulk Hogan, Haku was given Race's crown and robe and was rechristened "King Haku." He would cement his position as king by successfully defending his crown against the returning Race in a match at the 1989 Royal Rumble at The Summit in Houston. He would later lose the "crown" to Hacksaw Jim Duggan who himself was crowned as "King Duggan". Haku would later go on to form the tag team known as The Colossal Connection with André the Giant and win the WWF Tag Team Championship from Demolition on the December 30 edition of Superstars (taped on December 13). Haku and André lost the titles at WrestleMania VI, when Demolition defeated the Colossal Connection to regain the titles. Haku never legally tagged Andre into the match (due to André's poor health). Late in the match André attempted to interfere, but Haku accidentally struck him with a savate kick which left André tied in the ropes; Haku was pinned shortly after this. The team's manager, Bobby Heenan, blamed André for the loss and even slapped the Giant, who retaliated by 'paint-brushing" Heenan. Haku tried to ambush André; however, The Giant blocked Haku's kick and struck him repeatedly before leaving the ring alone to a standing ovation. André's face turn meant that the team had split. Due to his poor health it would be the last ever match for André the Giant in the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) although he would go on to wrestle for several years afterwards in Japan.

Just after Wrestlemania Haku became the first wrestler to challenge the new WWF champion, The Ultimate Warrior, but he lost the match. He formed a tag team shortly after this with fellow Heenan family member The Barbarian. Their most notable match was a defeat in the opening match of Wrestlemania VII against The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty).[3]

Shortly after competing in the Royal Rumble of 1992, Haku left the WWF.

Japan and Mexico (1991-1994)[edit]

Coming towards the end of Fifita's WWF career, he would wrestle under the name King Haku for Japanese promotion Super World of Sports. On February 14, 1992, Haku and Yoshiaki Yatsu became the first SWS Tag Team Champions. They lost the championship on April 16 when they lost them to George and Shunji Takano but would regain them on April 18, holding them until June 19 when SWS closed. With SWS closing, King Haku wrestled for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico and New Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestle Association R in Japan, before finally joining World Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling (1994-2001)[edit]

In WCW, (because the name Haku was trademarked by the WWF) Fifita wrestled as Meng. He was initially portrayed as the mysterious and intimidating bodyguard of Col. Rob Parker,[4] wearing business suits and shades while maintaining a quiet demeanor. His last night as a bodyguard was at Superbrawl V when Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestled Bunkhouse Buck, then after the match, Meng attacked Duggan, Later when Blacktop Bully was scheduled to wrestle Dustin Rhodes, WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel come out and escorted Meng back to the dressing room because of the attack on Duggan earlier in the show, The next week, Col. Parker announced that Meng will no longer be a bodyguard, but will be a wrestler from now on, winning his first match against a jobber with one fast high kick. Teaming with Kurasawa, he feuded against Sting and Road Warrior Hawk.[5]

Later, he faced Sting in a losing effort for the vacated United States title at The Great American Bash '95. Meng later joined the Dungeon of Doom forming a tag team named the Faces of Fear with his old partner The Barbarian. He was touted as being a former bodyguard to the Emperor of Japan. Meng's finishing maneuver was the feared Tongan Death Grip, a nerve grip on the Adam's apple applied to a standing victim who would drop into a supine position and experience the full effect of the hold.

Meng spent much of 1997 facing mainly lower and mid-card performers before starting a small rampage of a winning streak in the summer of 1998. This led to his main event World Championship match with Goldberg on the August 10 edition of Monday Nitro. Goldberg, too, had an impressive winning streak. Goldberg won and retained his title that night and thus added another wrestler in his winning streak, making it 160-0. In the spring of 1999, when Ric Flair was the (kayfabe) president on WCW programming, the barbaric Meng would often annihilate Flair's enemies per his instructions. Later on, Meng had a short-lived feud with Sting and occasionally faced uppercard stars like Lex Luger and WCW Champion Bret Hart. He also participated in matches for the newly introduced WCW Hardcore Championship toward the end of 1999. Meng finally won the title at the Sin pay-per-view on January 14, 2001. He became the final WCW Hardcore Champion.

Return to WWF (2001-2002)[edit]

Exactly one week after his WCW Hardcore Championship win at Sin, Fifita returned to the WWF as Haku and made a surprise appearance at the 2001 Royal Rumble. After the Rumble, he formed a tag team with Rikishi, but the team did not last long due to Rikishi's injury. Haku was left to wrestle on the lower card shows like Sunday Night Heat. He was eventually released from WWF, his final opponent being Shawn Stasiak on a WWF Jakked taping in Buffalo, New York on July 23, 2001. He would return to WWF house shows for a few months in the beginning of 2002.

Independent circuit (2000-present)[edit]

Fafita, under the name Meng, wrestled for World League Wrestling winning the WLW Heavyweight Championship on two occasions in 2000. He would return in 2003 to win the championship for the third time. Since 2003, Fifita has been essentially retired, returning to the wrestling ring on a few occasions over the years. In 2009, as King Haku, he would wrestle regularly for World Xtreme Wrestling where he won the WXW Hardcore Championship twice. He would return to semi retirement after his stint. Haku appeared at Chikara's King of Trios 2012 tournament, held on September 14–16 in Easton, Pennsylvania, teaming with The Barbarian and The Warlord. On September 14, the team was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by Team ROH (Mike Bennett, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson).[6][7]

Personal life[edit]

Fifita is married to Dorothy Koloamatangi. They have a daughter, Vika; a son, Tevita who is also a wrestler; and two adopted sons, Alipate and Taula. His son Tevita played football as a defensive end for the University of Texas at El Paso and is now on the WWE roster, as Camacho. Alipate currently wrestles for New Japan Pro Wrestling as Tama Tonga. His parents are Kelepi Fifita (father) and Atiola Vikilani Fifita (mother). Among Fifita's cousins are New England Patriots defensive tackle Steve Fifita[8] and Australian Wallabies rugby player Tatafu Polota-Nau. Fifita made a cameo appearance in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley along with many other professional wrestlers.[9]

He currently works as a car spa manager at David Maus Toyota in Sanford, Florida.[10]

Notoriety and incidents[edit]

In 1987, Haku had a backstage fight with Jesse Barr (who wrestled in the WWF as Jimmy Jack Funk) which allegedly resulted in Fifita gouging one of Barr's eyeballs out, causing Barr to later wear a glass eye. After this fight, Fifita had a reputation that steered wrestlers away from backstage confrontations. Regarding the rumor, Fifita, in a 2011 interview, stated "I didn't take his eyeballs off. I was ready to, my hands were in there, ready to take his eye off, but then I realized how stupid we were. Here we are brothers on the road together. I told Jim after all these things, and he got fired for it, and all these things here, and I feel bad for him, Jim. It was something that happened at that moment."[11]

In another incident, Fifita got into an altercation with some men at the Baltimore Airport bar who called wrestling "fake", and during the fight, Fifita bit off the nose of one of the men. Fifita stated, "Yeah. It was in Baltimore Airport. There was a hotel there. We were staying at another hotel - the Marriott or something. There was another hotel there, though. It was hopping at the time. The music was playing and it was packed. It was during the week I believe. Me and Siva Afi went over and there were lots of babyfaces there at the bar. So we went and sat in the other corner away from them. When they were ready to close, we had a few drinks, and on our way out there were five guys just sitting there. Of course, the same thing came out. The 'fake' stuff. 'Hey, are you guys with those guys - wrestlers? The fake wrestlers on TV?' You know. I said, 'Yeah. I'll show you.' And I reached over without thinking - there are four other guys there (laughs) - grabbed his face, and bit his nose off. Then the fight started. Me and Siva kind of cleaned house there and left. I'll never forget it (laughs)."[12]

Wrestler Perry Saturn, when asked who would win a bar fight between several real-life wrestling tough-guys, said, "Tonga. Nobody else would stand a chance. Not even a question. He could kill everyone without blinking and there is nothing anyone could do about it."[13]

Jake "The Snake" Roberts said during one of his shoot interviews: "If I had a gun and was sitting inside a tank with one shell left and Meng is 300 yards away, he's mine, right? Well the first thing I'm going to do is jump out of the tank and shoot myself because I don't want to wound that son of a bitch and have him pissed off at me."[14]

In a shoot interview Bobby Heenan talked extensively about Meng and referred to him as the toughest man (not just wrestler) he's ever met in his life. The craziest story he shared was in regards to a bar fight where he claimed Meng "took his two fingers on his right hand, his index finger and trigger finger, and he reached into the guy's mouth and he broke off the guy's bottom teeth." Heenan said that if he hadn't been there and seen it himself, he wouldn't believe it. After all the other stories that have been confirmed, it doesn't seem that unbelievable at all. Heenan was also close friends with Andre the Giant and claimed that the only two men in the word that Andre feared were Meng and Harley Race.[14] Heenan also praised Fifita as a good-hearted family man, who wanted nothing more than to feed his family,

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

  • Effort Award (1980)[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Haku profile". OWOW. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  2. ^ Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. p. 168. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X. 
  3. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0. 
  4. ^ a b "Stud Stable". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-08. 
  5. ^ World Championship Wrestling (1995-08-06). "Sting & Road Warrior Hawk vs Mong & Kurasawa /w Col. Robert Parker". WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI.
  6. ^ "Past results". Chikara. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  7. ^ Namako, Jason (2012-09-15). "9/14 Chikara "King of Trios: Night 1" Results: Easton, PA". WrestleView. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  8. ^ "Steve Fifita article at EnterpriseNews.com". Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  9. ^ "Full cast and crew for Paradise Alley (1978)". IMDb. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  10. ^ http://www.davidmaustoyota.com/dealership/staff.htm
  11. ^ http://bleacherreport.com/articles/859929-the-35-most-shocking-arrests-in-wrestling-history
  12. ^ http://www.prowrestling.net/artman/publish/WWE/article10021070.shtml
  13. ^ http://wrestlingclassics.com/cgi-bin/.ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=122858;p=0
  14. ^ a b http://www.mandatory.com/2014/02/19/meng-stories-of-the-scariest-man-in-the-history-of-wrestling/
  15. ^ a b c d e f g World Championship Wrestling (2001-01-03). "Meng VS Crowbar; Chair on a Pole Match". WCW Thunder.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g World Championship Wrestling (1997-06-15). "Chris Benoit Vs. Meng". WCW Great American Bash.
  17. ^ World Championship Wrestling, TNT (1996-10-07). "High Voltage vs The Faces of Fear". WCW Monday Nitro.
  18. ^ "Jimmy Hart profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  19. ^ http://www.prowrestlinghistory.com/supercards/japan/alljapan/miscaj.html#hvywt
  20. ^ "NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  21. ^ "NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  22. ^ "NWA Mid-America Six-Man Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  23. ^ "NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  24. ^ "SWS Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  25. ^ "東京スポーツ プロレス大賞". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  26. ^ "WCW Hardcore Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  27. ^ "WCW Hardcore Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  28. ^ "WLW Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  29. ^ "WLW Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  30. ^ "WWC North American Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  31. ^ "WWC North American Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  32. ^ "WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  33. ^ "WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  34. ^ "WWC World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  35. ^ "WWC World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  36. ^ "WWF/WWE World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  37. ^ "WWF/WWE World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  38. ^ "PWI Top 500 of the PWI Years page at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 2007-10-07. 

External links[edit]