Fanene Pita Anderson (ring name: High Chief Peter Maivia born April 6, 1937–June 13, 1982) was a professional Wrestler better known as ‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia. He was head of the famous Samoan wrestling family (Maivia/Anoa’i), and was also the promoter for the National Wrestling Alliance’s promotions in Hawaii. He was Husband to Lia (who passed away in 2008), Father of Ata (who married former wrestler Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson), and Grandfather of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
In the early 1960s, the ‘High Chief’ moved to New Zealand to begin his wrestling career training under South Pacific legend, Steve Rickard. It is said he was wrestling under his name Peter Faanene Anderson before changing it to High Chief Peter Maivia while wrestling in the U.K, as ‘Anderson’ did not sound exotic enough for a Samoan wrestler.
At the time of changing his name, another Samoan wrestler by the name of Neff Maiava was already a known wrestler in America, and it is believed that promoters for the ‘High Chief’, altered Neff Maiava’s last name to Maivia and the ring name ‘High Chief Peter Maivia’ was born. Since then, after meeting each other in Hawaii years later, both Maiava and Maivia considered each other as family – something that Maivia would also find with the Anoa’i family of wrestlers.
Maivia quickly took to his profession, winning numerous championships in the South Pacific and Hawaii before finally coming to the United States in 1970. He dominated the west coast in the 1970s, winning multiple championships in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. At different times, he held versions of the NWA Tag Team Championship with such greats as Pat Patterson, former World Tag Team Champion Billy White Wolf and Ray “The Crippler” Stevens. During his time in California, he also formed a close mentor-student relationship with “Superstar” Billy Graham.
Maivia also competed in Texas for a short spell, but rose to national prominence when he entered WWE in the late-1970s. He was very popular, and well-known partially because of the tribal tattoos that adorned his body; the ink was indicative of his status as a Samoan High Chief.
Maivia was also active outside the ring. He helped train numerous future Superstars, such as Billy Graham, ‘Wild Samoan’ Afa Anoa’i and Rocky Johnson (The Rock’s father), and also took over the reigns of the NWA’s Hawaiian operations in 1980. He also played a vile henchman in the 1967 James Bond film – You Only Live Twice, perhaps foreshadowing a silver screen legacy that would be carried on by The Rock 36 years later, who started his film career in 2001.
Highlights & Awards:
- NWA World Tag Team Champion
- Held several Pacific and West Coast regional NWA Titles
- Promoter for NWA’a Hawwaiian operations
- Forefather of the Samoan wrestling dynasty
- Father-in-law of Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson and grandfather of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
- Starred in the 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice”
- Inducted in to the WWE Hall Of Fame 2008 by grandson Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
- Considered to be the first popular Samoan wrestler to come out of the WWF (now the WWE) on a world-stage level that had not been achieved by other Samoan wrestlers before him.
- He launched one of the most famous family wrestling dynasty’s in the world – the Anoa’i family, which is the only wrestling dynasty of Samoan heritage