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Rikishi On Umaga Playing Football: ‘He Couldn’t Run In Cleats, So He Played Football Barefoot’

Umaga was unique for many reasons, and it turns out that extended from the squared circle to the gridiron.

Rikishi recently appeared on ‘Stories With Brisco & Bradshaw’ and explained how Umaga (his brother, Eddie Fatu) would play high school Football while barefoot because he couldn’t run in cleats.

“Well Umaga, he was supposed to go and play NFL football. So, my brother, he wasn’t raised in the United States, he grew up back in the islands and he was a huge star playing in high school. He was like 230 when he was a sophomore and he was like 6’2 but he was playing running back and back home, those days, for some reason, he couldn’t run in cleats. So, when it came time to play, he’d be the only one out there running barefoot, with no cleats.

“So, he was a huge, huge star. Now, my uncle’s Afa and Sika took independent wrestling back home to the islands and they would bring guys like Kamala, Ken Patera and SD Jones over there and some of the kids watching this don’t even know who those guys were but Umaga would be the one who helped my uncle’s back in the islands. So, he was a natural athlete, he’d be in the locker room and help my uncle’s Afa and Sika and the boys get their stuff. Finally, one day, he told my parents and said he wanted to try his hand into the industry and they said ‘oh no, another one? You’re too gifted at playing football, go to the NFL.’ But he wanted to try it and we put him through the same thing that Afa and Sika and he ended up becoming one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. Gone too soon.”

Umaga passed away in 2009 due to a heart attack brought on by acute toxicity of multiple substances. The former two-time Intercontinental Champion was 36 at the time of his death.

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