Albert “Al” Lolotai (ring-name: Alo Leilani born June 22, 1920 in Laie, Hawaii – died September 30, 1990 in Pago Pago, American Samoa) was a National Football League (NFL) player for the Washington Redskins and an All-America Football Conference player for the Los Angeles Dons. Lolotai spent 5 years playing football before switching to Professional Wrestling in 1950.
Lolotai played college football and is a graduate of the Weber State University, Utah.
Lolotai became a pioneer for future Samoan National Football League players by being the first Samoan and Polynesian to play in the NFL for the Washington Redskins in 1945. A year later in 1946, Lolotai joined rival football league All-American Football Conference (AAFC) to play for the Los Angeles Dons. Three years later in 1949, the AAFC merged with the NFL, but the Dons were not one of the three teams admitted to the NFL and instead decided to merge their franchise with the Rams. It would be the L.A Dons last season and Lolotai’s last time playing professional football.
In 1950, after the season had come to an end with the L.A Dons franchise, Lolotai decided to steer his career towards becoming a professional wrestler, adopting the ring-name Alo Leilani.
On November 29, 1951 he defeated Jimmy Coffield to win his first title as the NWA Central States Heavyweight champion. His next victory on December 16, 1955 over George Bollas, would see him win the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title. The following year in 1956, he defeated Tom Rice to win the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title a second time.
In May 1959, Lolotai lost his title to Ed Francis, who would become one of Lolotai’s notable feuds in wrestling. A few months later on July 8, 1959, Lolotai met Ed Francis a second time, only this time, he went on to defeat Francis to regain the NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title back.
It had been nineteen years since his last title victory in 1959, but Lolotai still had it in him to win in November 1978 by defeating Kasavudu to claim the NWA North American Heavyweight title, he was approximately 58 years old by then. His final match on record was December 1st, 1978 where he was defeated by Big Daddy Ritter (Junkyard Dog), losing the NWA North American Heavyweight title. Lolotai spent almost all his life in football and professional wrestling, he died at age 70 in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Highlights and Awards:
- Won NWA (Central States) Heart of America Heavyweight title – November 29, 1951
- Won NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title – December 16, 1955
- Won NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title – May 19, 1957
- Won NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title – July 8, 1959
- Won Stampede North American Heavyweight title – November, 1978
- He is considered to be the first Samoan and Polynesian player to play in the NFL (Redskins in 1945)
- He is considered to be the first Samoan in professional Wrestling, beginning his career in the 1950s