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Sam Steamboat (1934-2006)

Real NameSamuel Kauaawa Mokuahi, Jr.

Lifespan - 5/4/1934 - 5/2/2006

6’ 220 lbs. - Honolulu, HA

Athletic BackgroundFootball [Weber College]; Swimming, Basketball [High School]; Surfing, Canoe Paddling

Teacher(s)Lord James Blears, Gene Kiniski, Sandor Kovacs, Don Curtis, Tony Morelli; Lou Thesz

Professional Background - n/a

Aliases - Sammy Steamboat

Peak Years - 1960s

Place in HistoryWhen Lord James Blears came across a handsome young Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach, he offered to train him at pro-wrestling in exchange for surfing lessons.  The boy’s father was an institution in the area known as the “Mayor of Wakiki”.  Blears and several others had a hand in breaking him in and starting his career off right.  His last name, Mokuahi, translates to “Steamboat,” which became the name Sammy used throughout his career.  Being a local boy, Sammy Steamboat was pushed to the top of the cards immediately.  Despite his good looks and lean build, Steamboat earned his spot and he came to sport two cauliflowered ears as proof.  On the mainland, Steamboat got over as the happy-go-lucky Hawaiian.  He started in California and worked his way east.  On the East Coast, he formed a partnership with Eddie Graham that is notable.  The two won tag titles in Georgia, the Carolinas and, of course, Florida.  It was in the latter territory that Steamboat enjoyed his most success.  He worked up and down the cards in the 1960s.  Steamboat wrestled in over a dozen NWA title match, most of them with his old friend Lou Thesz.  While he was certainly never in the running as a NWA champion, Sam Steamboat had the personality and physical credibility to be used in that challenger role.  Back in Hawaii, Sam Steamboat was a pushed to a top slot, feuding with Ripper Collins over the Hawaii Heavyweight title, Mad Dog Mayne and partners over the Hawaiian Tag titles and the likes of Gene Kiniski, Curtis Iaukea and Freddie Blassie over the North American title.  Steamboat finished up his career in the ring in late 1970s.  Curiously, Sam Steamboat’s legacy in pro-wrestling became tied to Ricky Steamboat.  A half-Japanese high school wrestling standout, Richard Blood was transformed into a Hawaiian by Eddie Graham in Florida.  Being called the nephew of Sammy Steamboat gave the youngster instant credibility and launched his career.  In a strange way, Ricky’s national fame bolstered Sammy’s legacy with fans who never saw him.  Sam Steamboat, like his father, became a local hero.  Helping kids build canoes, coaching paddling and promoting it as a high school sport until it became sanctioned by the state in 2000, became his focus in later years.  When he passed in 2006, Sam Mokuahi was memorialized as one of Hawaii’s favorite sons.