Wrestling legend Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka made waves in the 80s as a champion wrestler with a big personality. Snuka was a major star during the 80s wrestling heyday, starring in the first Wrestlemania in 1985 alongside Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, as well as being a character in the Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling animated series. Now he’s making headlines in a much different way. According to newspaper The Morning Call, Snuka was arrested earlier today in his New Jersey home for the 1983 death of his then girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, after he surrendered to a Lehigh County detective. He was sent to county jail, but later posted $100,000 bail.
The decades old cold-case was reopened last year following an investigation by the Allentown, Pennsylvania newspaper The Morning Call which uncovered a previously unseen autopsy report ruling Argentino’s death a homicide. An autopsy reported that Argentino died of traumatic brain injuries and suffered over two dozen cuts and bruises on her head, back, arms, buttocks, and more, leading many to assume spousal abuse. In fact, four months before her death Snuka was charged with assaulting her in a New York hotel room, to which he plead guilty.
The 23 year old was found in a motel outside Allentown gasping for air and oozing yellow fluid from her mouth and nose according to the newspaper, and she was pronounced dead the next day. There has been speculation in wrestling circles and the media about Snuka’s involvement ever since, especially after he told at least five people at the time that he had shoved Argentino, resulting in her hitting her head. He has since changed his story saying that she slipped and fell.
In his 2012 autobiography Snuka still maintained his innocence, and he claimed her death ruined his life. “Many terrible things have been written about me hurting Nancy and being responsible for her death, but they are not true,” he wrote in Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story. “This has been very hard on me and very hard on my family. To this day, I get nasty notes and threats. It hurts. I never hit Nancy or threatened her.”
Argention’s family won a wrongful death lawsuit against Snuka in 1985, but he has never paid them the $500,000 awarded them saying that he was destitute and couldn’t afford legal defense. This is the first time criminal charges have been brought against the now 72 year old. The WWE have released a short statement:
“WWE expresses its continued sympathy to the Argentino family for their loss. Ultimately this legal matter will be decided by our judicial system.”
We will be following this story closely, and will update with any new developments.