I began watching wrestling at the age of 7 and very soon after that it became an obsession. As I grew older, I seemed to outgrow everything else, but I could never get enough wrestling. It was something that I always dreamed to be a part of. I was never very athletic but I always enjoyed being able to entertain people. From doing DJ gigs, I had been told I had a good voice, so I developed an interest in one day becoming a ring announcer.
In the summer of 2000, I saw an ad in the paper for a wrestling company that was holding a live event at a local high school. I found the name of the company to be WXW and proceeded to look it up on the internet. I also found out that it was run by Afa The Wild Samoan; one of the many stars I grew up watching on television. On a whim, I decided to email the contact address listed on the website, asking how I might break into the wrestling business as a ring announcer. In less than 10 minutes, I received a response back, and was shocked it was from Afa himself. He asked me to see if I could sell a few tickets for the event and to bring a suit with me to the show. I was so excited at the opportunity, I went out and sold 13 tickets within an hour or two. The night of the show, Afa welcomed me into the dressing room and introduced me to some of the wrestlers. As nervous as I was, Afa made it a point to make me feel at home. Following the show, Afa invited me to come to Sportsfest the following night in Allentown, but couldn't guarantee I'd be able to announce. I had seen Sportsfest on television a couple years in a row so I was familiar with the event, and was excited just to be going.
The following night at Sportsfest, I got to meet some of the wrestlers backstage, many of whom I had grown up watching on television. About 20 minutes to belltime, Afa found me and told me to get dressed, and that I would be announcing the last part of the show. I was shocked because up until that point, I figured there was no way I would be able to announce at such a big event as Sportsfest, especially since it was only my second night. But Afa believed in me and gave me the chance to go out and announced in front of thousands of people on live television.
Ever since then, I have been involved in WXW in one way or another. Over the years, the man I once referred to as Afa became Pops. He and his wife Lynn became like second parents to me. They welcomed me into their home and treated me as family. I have been given so many wonderful opportunities through them, and have been able to do so many things I never would have dreamed of; learning how the business works, being able to meet and work with so many of my childhood heroes, and even having the chance to appear on Monday Night Raw and work directly for Vince McMahon. Over the last six years, I have tried to give back as much as I can, and lend some of my experience in return for the opportunities I have been given, which has included editing and writing for television, helping with the promotion and running of live events, and so much more.
I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience in not only the wrestling business, but also in life in general. Pops and Mom have also helped me through some rough personal times and have always stood by me. They've always been supportive of me and I am eternally grateful for everything they've done. Even though I do consider them family, they are also some of the best friends I have. I'd just like to say thank you to Mom and Pops for taking the time out and for all they have done.
Love, your son, Matt
Young men and women grow up watching pro-wrestling entertainment and dream of working in the business. Yet, few realize that there is an organization which can help them fulfill that dream. My husband Patrick and I grew up watching it on TV, but we never anticipated a future in the business. Patrick dreamed of becoming a pro-wrestler, and I always wanted to work in the entertainment business. Thanks to Afa and Lynn Anoa’i, who are affectionately known as Pops and Mom, our wants and dreams were met with open arms.
We have been working with them for over 5 years, and gained a lot of knowledge in several areas of the business. We received hands on experience with top of the line video cameras and editing equipment to help produce the Rage TV show, WXW DVD’s, and cable television commercials. We learned how to work in studio settings; as well as, the fast paced environment of live events. Just by being apart of the company we learned so much more, including how to run a business. We were able to contribute our ideas and creativity as we worked together as a family to produce a wonderful product.
Pops and Mom helped Patrick and I garner many accomplishments that we will always be proud of. As I attended college for broadcasting, I felt that I was a step above those in my class because of my work with the Anoai’s. I was also able to receive college credit for what I was producing. Today I have a well rounded resume and a reference from a respectable source that will help me in my future endeavors. As a professional wrestler, Patrick gained his skills and confidence from Afa and his teachings, but on top of it he has the behind the scenes experience. He has become a professional who is able to work on many different levels of the business. One of our proudest moments was seeing our work on national television when the Travel Channel aired, Pro-wrestling- Tricks of the Trade. There are not many organizations which offer such an opportunity, and we were both lucky to have the education without having to pay for it.
As a young couple seeking a future in the business we look to Pops and Mom as role models. Since working with them we have produced our own live wrestling event, and a television show. Yet, we were novices, so we went to them for help and advice, which they gladly gave to us. We couldn’t have done it without them, and we know they are there for us no matter what we may need.
They excepted us into their organization and into their lives, often giving us a place a to eat, sleep, and feel at home. Today, we bring other wrestling hopefuls to the training center for them to seek out their dreams, and we know that they will be as welcomed as we were. Pops and Mom taught us many valuable lessons which will carry with us for the rest of our lives. Patrick and I look forward to working with them in the future, and would like to follow in their footsteps.
Many thanks and love to Afa, Lynn, and the Anoa’i family, Angela and Patrick Walsh
I'll never forget the day I walked through the doors of the Wild Samoan Training Center. There was a horrible snow storm taking place and it was a hundred mile trek from State College to Hazelton, but nothing was going to stop me. I had a tryout scheduled with Afa to possibly become one of his students and fulfill one of my lifelong dreams. After Afa had taken me through the tryout, he pulled me aside, sat me down, and put his arm around my shoulder. He told me, "Son, I see a lot of potential in you. If you are willing to work hard, you will be successful. You will be a champion. From now on, you'll call me 'Pops' because we are a family here. We help each other; we look out for each other; we take care of each other. Welcome to our family."
That was seven years ago and those words still resonate through my mind with crystal clear clarity. From that day forward, I was part of Afa and Lynn's family and they became part of mine. My dad, mom, brother, and sister came to every show to support me and Lynn always took the time to stop, talk to them, and catch up with their lives. Not long into my wrestling career, my dad suffered through a nine month battle with a terminal illness. During that time, I tried to take over his role within my own family, but often times the weight seemed like too much to bear. I frequently turned to Afa and Lynn for support and, despite what was going on in their lives, they always listened.
In November of that year, I won the "Wrestler of the Year Award" at our annual banquet. It tore me up inside knowing that my dad couldn't be there; that he was lying in a hospital bed unable to attend. But in the pictures from the banquet, Pops stood beside me with his arm around me. It felt wonderful to have him there. Later that night, when I shared the story with my dad at the hospital, he smiled and asked who I'd be wrestling next.
Unfortunately, there weren't many more smiles and stories to share. My dad's battle ended in May of that year and I remember the horrible feeling of loneliness that surrounded me. At his service, I was to make a speech about his life. I didn't think that I could do it. As the viewing moved along and the time grew closer, I saw a familiar contingent of faces enter through the door (it's hard to miss a group of Samoans). Everyone was there, led by Pops right up front. When he reached me, I said, "Pops, I don't think I can do this." And, once again, Pops put his arm around my shoulder and whispered, "Yes you can, Son. You need to do it. And we're all here with you to hold you up and help you do it."
I've always been blessed with opportunity and wonderful people in my life. I grew up in a nice neighborhood, went through a good school district, attended a great college and graduate school, and have had the good fortune to achieve success in my career as first a teacher, coach, and now a high school principal. I did all this with the support of strong family, teachers, and mentors in my life. Every day, I watch children walk through this world with no direction, no guidance, and no goals. And time and time again, I see the powerful influence that one person can make in the lives of these children. Just one person; just one positive experience can literally make the difference between fulfilling one's potential or watching it waste away.
Pops is that one person. Usos is that one positive experience. When an underprivileged youth walks through the doors of the Wild Samoan Training Center, all that they've ever heard has been "can't" and "won't." Somewhere deep inside, though, in the places that they are too afraid to share with anyone, they might have a dream to become a professional wrestler. Afa and Lynn help bring that dream to the surface. They use phrases like "You can!" and "You will!" Eventually, that young person realizes the value of self-worth and self-esteem and they begin to rise above their surroundings. Their dreams expand from wrestling to maybe getting a college education, to getting a good job, and maybe starting a family of their own someday.
I come to work everyday with one goal and mind: "Do what's right for kids. Make a difference." When I pull aside a troubled youth and put my arm around him, I remember Pops doing the same to me. I tell that child, "If you are willing to work hard, you will be successful. You will be a champion. And I'll be here to help you. You're part of our family now."
And so now I challenge you: Do what's right for kids. Make a difference. Join Usos and become a part of our family.
Sincerely, Nicholas Indeglio
I must have been around 7 years old, when I watched my first wrestling match with my Dad. He had been a fan since he was a small boy himself, and he grew up idolizing men like Lou Thesz, The Mighty Atlas and Antonino Rocca. Of course, by the time I was introduced to the sport, those men were gone and replaced by a new generation of grapplers. Instead of old-time wrestlers like Dick the Bruiser and Haystacks Calhoun, I watched “The Incredible” Hulk Hogan and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff.
Tag teams like The Fabulous Kangaroos had been replaced by The Wild Samoans and The Dream Team. I remember when Hogan pinned the Sheik for his first WWF World Championship and I remember when Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas beat the Samoans for their first (and only) WWF World Tag Team Championship. I didn’t know back then that is was a bittersweet loss for the Samoans, as Rocky Johnson was a close member of the Samoans' family.
From that point on, I was hooked on professional wrestling. I watched the shows week in and week out, dreaming of one day being a wrestler myself. As I grew older, I still remained a fan, though I didn’t watch the matches as much I once did. I joined the Navy and moved overseas to work as a Cryptology Technician with Naval Intelligence. Unfortunately, while I was over there I was injured and as I was recovering from the three surgeries to repair nerve and tendon damage in my right hand, I also became very sick.
The doctors treated me as best they could, but it wasn’t something they could completely cure, so I was honorably discharged. I came back home and decided to go to college for Mass Communications and Business. I still had the dream of being involved in professional wrestling in some capacity, but for medical reasons I knew I would never be able to wrestle.
I graduated college and unfortunately, as is often the case with dreams, I pushed mine aside and moved forward with a more practical career in business. Things went well for a couple years until I lost my job and suddenly found myself at a crossroads in my life. I was unsure if I should continue on the business path or take a different direction and revisit my dream of working in professional wrestling. I talked with my Dad about using my degree in some sort of wrestling production role and he encouraged me to investigate the possibilities.
Then, my entire world as I knew it, changed forever. My biggest supporter, my best friend… my Dad, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. He had been in good health according to his doctor and though he seemed to have nothing more than a cold when I talked to him the morning of March 1, 2004, he was gone before the sun went down that evening. I felt very much lost inside and didn’t know where to go from there.
I tried a couple of different business jobs that year, so I could continue to pay the bills, but nothing felt right anymore. One night, I found the World X-treme Wrestling website and decided to contact them to inquire about the possibility of finding a job in the wrestling business. I was very surprised when Afa “The Wild Samoan” himself, e-mailed me back and invited me to come talk with him at their next show.
I did meet with Afa and his son, Samu, at the next show and they offered me a tryout doing promos with the wrestlers. I did a couple interviews for them and they invited me back to do some more at the next couple shows. I was also offered the opportunity to do commentary on their live TV show, which I happily accepted. About this time, though, the loss of my Dad was really starting to get to me as the initial shock and confusion gave way to a feeling of emptiness that I can not fully explain. I drifted away from everyone and everything, wrestling included, and I basically became a recluse.
After about 6 months, I started to pick up the pieces and gain a little control of my life again. I contacted Afa “The Wild Samoan” to apologize for disappearing the way I did, because I felt like he had given me the opportunity to live my dream and I owed him an apology and an explanation for my actions. To my surprise, not only did he forgive me, he invited me to the next show to do commentary again.
Though my first show back didn’t go very as well as I would have liked, Afa encouraged me to keep improving and not allow my setbacks to frustrate me. He offered me advice and told me about the personal losses he had been through with his son-in-law Gary Albright and his nephew Rodney Anoa'i. Over the course of the next year, I had many opportunities to sit down and talk with Afa about wrestling and life in general. He personally coached me to improve my commentary skills on a number of occasions and he welcomed me into his extended wrestling family with open arms.
At the most tumultuous time in my life when I didn’t know where to turn, Afa helped guide me and give me direction. It is because of the way I was treated by Afa and his family, along with my knowledge of the type of person he truly is behind the tough wrestler façade, that I am so passionate about the Usos Foundation. Afa and his wife, Lynn, created something very special in this organization and I am happy to help in any way that I can.
Many of the kids that come through the Usos Foundation don’t have the solid family base that I had growing up, and never experienced the type of relationship like the one that I had with my dad. To these kids, Afa and Lynn are their surrogate Mom and Dad and they are treated just like one of the family. The training these kids receive is wonderful and the skills they are given through Usos are certainly valuable, but the kindness and love that comes from Afa and Lynn is the real heart and soul of the Foundation.
Even though nobody will ever replace my beloved Mom and Dad, I am proud to be a member of the WXW / Wild Samoan Training Center / Usos Foundation family and I consider it an honor to call Afa “Pops” and Lynn “Moms”. They are two of the most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Benjamin R. Miller
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Usos Foundation Board Members
Executive Director: Andy Salgado
President: Afa Anoa'i
Vice President: Lynn Anoa'i
Usos Foundation files a yearly 990-N form to the Department of the Treasury
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Usos Foundation is proud to announce that we have partnered with Charity Wines for their newest brand, Legend Cellars. We are honored to be the first wrestling affiliation with this great fundraising opportunity. Legend Cellars recently released four brand new wines to accompany the eight original wines featuring professional wrestlers. The inaugural release included wines featuring wrestling superstars, The Wild Samoans, Rocky Johnson, Scott Hall, Samu, Haku, The Iron Sheik, Ricky Santana, and the late Davey Boy Smith. The four new wines feature High Chief Peter Maivia, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Magnificent Don Muraco, and the Alofa Forever sparkling white wine featuring High Chief Peter Maivia and his wife Lia Maivia. Proceeds from the sale of these wines benefits Usos - The Samoan Family Foundation.