The Houston Chronicle Picks Up Story On Umaga’s Death

Matt Boone

The following is an article from the Houston Chronicle website:

Heart attack suspected in wrestler Umaga’s death
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Dec. 6, 2009, 12:44PM

A well-known professional wrestler died of an apparent heart attack Friday at a Houston hospital.

Eddie Fatu, a 36-year-old Houstonian who performed under the name Umaga, died at Northwest Medical Center, a family member said.

“Our hearts are broken, and words can’t express what each of us are feeling,” Afa Anoa’i, his uncle, stated on the pro-wrestling site pwinsider.com.

The site reported that Fatu’s wife found him Thursday night not breathing, with blood coming out of his nose.

Fellow wrestlers and fans mourned the loss Saturday throughout the Internet and blogosphere. There were hundreds of anguished messages about his death on Twitter. On Facebook, a tribute page had 545 fans by Saturday.

Fatu was a cousin of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who went from pro wrestling into a movie career.

Although he never gained the prominence Johnson has, Fatu wrestled for World Wrestling Entertainment and toured nationally and internationally.

Fatu had just returned home after being part of the “Hulkamania Tour” in Australia.

He was let go by the WWE last June.

Fatu’s death came as a shock to industry observers like James Caldwell, who writes for Pro Wrestling Torch, a Web site that covers the pro-wrestling business. In Australia, people had said Fatu was looking healthy and strong, Caldwell said.

“One of the biggest factors is everybody liked him. Everybody from top to bottom said he was a good guy,” Caldwell said.

Pro wrestling has been plagued by the premature deaths of stars in recent years. Dozens have died before the age of 60.

Theories for the high death rate have included the physical punishment the wrestlers are subjected to in the ring, as well as drug use.

The WWE says it’s trying to do more to keep its current and former stars healthy.

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