Wrestling legend focuses
on fighting Alzheimer’s

For someone who has had his head banged on a wrestling mat a million times, and who has spent a couple of decades dealing with jabbering tourists on the beach at Waikiki, and who unleashes a tumbling tsunami of wordy jive when he speaks, "King" Curtis Iaukea is a pretty focused guy.

15th Hawaii All-Collectors Show

Where: Blaisdell Center, 777 Ward Ave.
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: $4 for adults, $2 for ages 7 to 11, and free Sunday for 65 and older
Call: 941-9754, or visit www.ukulele.com

"Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's," chants Iaukea. "You can't say it enough, you gotta let the people know about it. Say it, say it, say it at end of your story, my friend; Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's."

Sorry, Curtis, we're putting it way up here, it's just that important. Iaukea, a legend of Hawaii professional wrestling, is coming out of semi-retirement this weekend at the Hawaii All-Collectors Show to help raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association Aloha Chapter. Both Iaukea and friend Wayne Nishimoto know family and friends with folks in the final stages of the brain-wasting disease. Nishimoto volunteered to ramrod the fund-raising efforts, which include a rare press conference tomorrow by Iaukea -- whose wild and woolly press conferences as "Da Bull" became the stuff of Hawaii wrestling legend.

"Everyone on this island, directly or otherwise, has felt the effects of Alzheimer's," said Iaukea. "It's very personal for everyone involved."

The effort is called "Keeping the Memories Alive," and features exhibits of "50th State Big Time Wrestling," including artifacts and products. A DVD of Hawaii wrestling is being prepared, and profits from all merchandise -- Civic Auditorium wrestling T-shirts! Mexican masks! -- go to the Alzheimer's Association. Iaukea will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. each day for autographs and to talk story.

What has Da Bull been up to?

After contracting a nasty virus in Singapore in the late '70s -- "whacking my head on dirty mats, split open my forehead" -- that made his joints ache, Iaukea hung up his wrestling belts and returned to his first love, the beach of Waikiki.

"That was where Lord Blears found me and convinced me to start wrestling instead of just surfing. Best years of my life were in Waikiki," recalled Iaukea. "I got to stay in my hometown and grow old! No wrestler gets to do that.

"Waikiki is the best, no ka oi. I had one friend came from Big Island homestead, and he said, 'Hey, this is turning into little Miami.' No way! I says. Waikiki is more exclusive -- we get the tradewinds. I get to touch the ocean and feel the sun and the breeze every day of my life remaining. Makes it one fabulous life."

| | |
E-mail to Features Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com