The Anoa'i Family is one of the most famous in all of wrestling and includes Roman Reigns, Rikishi, The Usos and Yokozuna. One of their family members went through a scary situation last year when Reigns revealed that his leukemia had returned.
Reigns' cousin Rikishi talked about him going through that and if he was aware before the announcement when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"We all knew about it. But it was his timing and as a family we supported his thoughts and when it was right for him to come out with it," said Rikishi. "I can't tell you how proud I am of him of being able to speak up because it's a domino effect in helping other kids diagnosed with leukemia. As we see on a weekly basis, he's doing the charities and meet-and-greets and bringing awareness to that disease. It's a beautiful thing as he's utilizing his platform. It's bigger than wrestling and that's one thing we're so happy he's able to get out there and bring awareness."
He added that it's crazy to think about being told you are diagnosed with something that can kill you, and Reigns has been told two or three times. Rikishi said more athletes shouldn't be scared to tell their story.
Another member of the Anoa'i Family is The Rock who used the platform of wrestling to go into Hollywood. Reigns had an appearance in The Rock's latest film Hobbs & Shaw and Rikishi was asked if Reigns will get the acting bug and leave for Hollywood.
"Well, in pro wrestling your mind says you can go but at the end of the day it's how we feel," stated Rikishi. "Trust me, I miss the fans but my body hurts. You just can't do certain things anymore after putting it all on the line for years. Sooner or later those bones start to break down. At the end of the day, I know I can't perform as much as I like as the body isn't what it once was, but what can I do to utilize this platform and stay in the public eye?"
Rikishi spends most of his time these days running his wrestling school KnokX Pro Academy. He says the X in the name is meant to be a Samoan weapon and he talked about what he gets out of running the school.
"Most of my time is with the academy in Los Angeles and we have approximately 70 students. These kids keep me alive, man. I have a love and passion for the industry and I just want these kids to get it," said Rikishi.
He added that the first thing he asks young wrestlers is, "Are you a Playstation wrestler?" He tells all newcomers that they will find out pro wrestling is not like Playstation.
"Every single person that comes through it's the same story – they love pro wrestling. I'm straight up and I tell them, 'Some of you guys are gonna make it and some of you guys are not gonna make it.' By the time we go to the training, you're gonna find out it's not exactly what you thought it would be," revealed Rikishi. "It is not easy. We go in there and pound our bodies. That three-quarter plywood and that ring post – it wins every night. I don't give a sh*t how good you are. You gotta learn that the key word in pro wrestling is longevity."
Rikishi also has his own clothing line that was created for athletes. He talked about Black Out Fight gear and his Samoan Dynasty shirts.
"I've been busy going to a lot of MMA and Muay Thai fights so we're pretty much the gear makers for all of this," Rikishi said before adding that he used to get looked at weird when showing up at all the MMA fights.
"I said I'm here as an athlete. We're in different industries but we're in same arenas," stated Rikishi. "I'm sure every person back there is working and fighting to put food on the table for their families…
"I would never put my name to endorse anything unless I knew it would help athletes."
Rikishi will be appearing at the Alamo Comic-Con, on behalf of Bustin 4 Autism, which ends today. For more information please click here.
Rikishi's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. Featuring Rikishi discussing his upcoming appearance at the Alamo Comic-Con, his work with Bustin 4 Autism, the legacy of his sons The Usos, his cousin Roman Reigns' battle with leukemia, giving Vince McMahon the stinkface, his pro wrestling future, more.