Neff Alfred Maiava (May 1, 1924 – April 21, 2018) was an American Samoan professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances in the United States with the Honolulu, Hawaii-based promotion 50th State Big Time Wrestling in the late-1950s and 1960s.[1][2][3][6]

Neff Maiava
Birth nameNeff Alfred Maiava[1]
Born(1924-05-01)May 1, 1924
Tula, Tutuila, American Samoa[1]
DiedApril 21, 2018(2018-04-21) (aged 93)[2]
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States[1]
FamilyKaluka Maiava (grandson)[4]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Neff Maiava
Prince Maiava
Prince Ulu Maiava
Billed height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)[2]
Billed weight282 lb (128 kg)[2]
Billed from"Samoa"[5]
Trained byAl Karasik[2]

Early lifeEdit

Maiava was born in Tula in American Samoa on May 1, 1924.[1] When he was two years old, his family relocated to Laie, Hawaii in the United States.[6][8]

Professional wrestling careerEdit

Maiava was trained to wrestle by Al Karasik, debuting in 1952.[6] In 1955, he wrestled for Ed Don George in Syracuse, New York as "Prince Ulu Maiava".[5] From 1955 to 1958, he wrestled in Canada for the Calgary, Alberta-based Big Time Wrestling promotion as "Prince Maiava".[9][10] In 1956, he briefly held the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship with Ray Gunkel while working for the Dallas Wrestling Club in Dallas, Texas.[11] In 1958, Maiava began wrestling for the Salt Lake City, Utah-based Salt Lake Wrestling Club, where he and Oni Wiki Wiki briefly held the NWA World Tag Team Championship.[12][13] In late-1960, he briefly wrestled for the World Wide Wrestling Federation in Washington, D.C..[10]

Maiava became a highly popular wrestler due to his "combination of athletic ability, comedy and exotic flair".[3] Playing on his Samoan origin, Maiava developed a "colorful and charismatic" character. He became known for antics such as performing fire knife dances, playing a ukulele, walking on a bed of nails,[6] breaking wooden boards over his head, and wearing a necklace made from boar's teeth.[14] During his matches, Maiava would use his wild hair to entrap and "cut" opponents' hands. His finishing move, the "Coconut Head-butt", gave rise to the professional wrestling trope that Samoan wrestlers have "hard heads". He was managed by Coconut Willie, who supposedly issued orders to Maiava by beating a drum.[3][15] On one occasion, he wrestled a bear. To preserve the mystique of his character, Maiava did not speak English in public while travelling outside of Hawaii.[3]

In the late-1950s, Maiava began appearing regularly with the Honolulu, Hawaii-based promotion 50th State Big Time Wrestling.[10] Between 1961 and 1966, he held the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship on six occasions, trading the championship with wrestlers including King Curtis Iaukea, Gene LeBell, Hard Boiled Haggerty, and Gene Kiniski.[16][17] He also held the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship on six occasions, teaming with Billy White Wolf, Lord James Blears, and Pampero Firpo.[18] On August 16, 1961, Maiava defended his NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship in a bout with King Curtis Iaukea at the Civic Auditorium in front of approximately 3,000 people. After Iaukea won, members of the audience began rioting, with eight people ultimately arrested and nine people (including four police officers) injured.[19][20] In October 1961, Maiava defeated Maurice Vachon in a hair versus hair match.[21] Fellow American Samoan professional wrestler Fanene Anderson took his ring name, Peter Maivia, from Maiava. In 1968, Maiava and Maivia formed a tag team in 50th State Big Time Wrestling.[6]

Maiava retired from professional wrestling in 1974.[6] He went on to run a tree-trimming company and purchased a portfolio of rental properties on Oahu.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Maiava had five sons and four daughters.[3] His grandchildren included American football linebacker Kaluka Maiava.[4]

In 1997, Maiava published "Da Grouchy Moocher Boogie Man", a children's book.[22]


Maiava died in his sleep on April 21, 2018 in Honolulu at the age of 93.[1][3] At the time of his death he was reckoned by journalist Dave Meltzer to be the world's second oldest living professional wrestler.[6] He was inurned with military honors at the Diamond Head Mortuary.[7]


  • Da Grouchy Moocher Boogie Man (1997)

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Neff Alfred "Prince Neff" Maiava". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Black Press. May 25, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Philip Kreikenbohm. "Neff Maiava". Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Michael Tsai (May 3, 2018). "Pioneering pro wrestler 'Prince' Maiava from Laie dies at 93". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Black Press. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Jodie Valade (October 14, 2012). "Cleveland Browns Kaluka Maiava on wrestling, The Rock and winter weather: five questions". Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Chris Tolos grapples South Sea Islander". Syracuse Herald-Journal (via March 8, 1955. p. 22. Chris Tolos, Canadian heavyweight, will attempt to ruin the Syracuse wrestling debut of Prince Ulu Maiava of Samoa when they meet tonight in the feature of the grappling show on the War Memorial mat.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dave Meltzer (May 5, 2018). "Prince Neff Maiava passes away at 93 years old". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Services to be held for Hawaii wrestling pioneer Neff Maiava". KHON-TV. May 31, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  8. ^ Warren Nishimoto (July 31, 1992). "Oral history interview #451-1 with John Meatoga" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved November 15, 2018. JM: [...] Neff [Maiava] came here when he was two years old. I believe he's three years older than I am. So anyway... WN: Neff was born in Samoa? JM: He was born in Samoa.
  9. ^ Bruce Hart (2011). Straight from the Hart. ECW Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-77090-004-2.
  10. ^ a b c Philip Kreikenbohm. "Neff Maiava – Career". Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "NWA Texas Tag Team Title". October 3, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "World Tag Team Title [Northwest Tri-State]". April 11, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Western Tag Team Title [Idaho / Utah]". March 14, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Bob D'Angelo (May 4, 2018). "Pioneering pro wrestler 'Prince' Neff Maiava dead at 93". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Blaine Van Der Griend (December 28, 2011). "Islanders put family first in wrestling business". Retrieved November 15, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Hawaii Heavyweight Title". September 7, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Steven Verrier (2018). Gene Kiniski: Canadian Wrestling Legend. McFarland & Co. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-4766-7483-4.
  18. ^ a b "NWA Hawaii Tag Team Title". September 7, 2017. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  19. ^ "HPD History: Wrestling Riot 1961". Honolulu Police Department. May 5, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  20. ^ "8 charged in wrestling show riot". The Honolulu Advertiser (via August 18, 1961. p. 4.
  21. ^ Bertrand Hébert; Pat Laprade (2005). Mad Dog: The Maurice Vachon Story. ECW Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-77305-065-2.
  22. ^ John Grasso (2014). Historical Dictionary of Wrestling. Scarecrow Press. p. 409. ISBN 978-0-8108-7926-3.
  23. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Tag Team Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 275–276. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.

External linksEdit