The WWE's reigning universal champion, star wrestler Roman Reigns, stunned an audience at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, on Monday night, by admitting before an arena full of fans that he has leukemia.
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“My real name is Joe, and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years. And, unfortunately, it’s back,” Reigns, a polarizing performer, told the audience on Monday’s episode of “Raw.”.
"Because the leukemia is back, I cannot fulfill that role. I can't be that fighting champion, and I'm going to have to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship," Reigns, 33, whose real name is Joe Anoa'i, said as he held back tears.
“I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not looking for you to feel bad for me, because I have faith,” he said as the shocked crowd, some visibly crying, listened.
Anoa’i, 33, said he was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 when he was 22, but that he was able to get it into remission pretty quickly.
The wrestling champ, a former college football player at Georgia Tech, credited the WWE for giving him a chance when he was down, and said he's relinquishing his championship title immediately.
Anoa’i said he planned to go home and focus on his health, but he said it’s not over yet.
“I’m coming back because I want to show you all at home and my family and my children and my wife that, when life throws a curveball at me, I will choke up and I will swing for the fences every single time. I will beat this and will be back, so you will see me very, very soon.”