Vale: King Curtis

Curtis Piehau Iaukea, III, better known as TV wrestler King Curtis died on the weekend, aged 73.

Curtis’ appeared in World Championship Wrestling with Jack Little at Channel Nine during the 1960s. His speciality was yelling down the barrel of the camera, telling opponents what he was going to do to them and captivating everyone from 9 to 90.

Wikipedia notes his first sojourns to Australia were in the 1964–1965 season, where he was a villain, teamed with Skull Murphy. The King Curtis tag was the one that stuck as he feuded against Mark Lewin. After becoming a fan favorite in time for the seventies, King Curtis feuded against Tiger Singh and various Japanese wrestlers.

He was best known at the leader (with Mark Lewin) of ‘The People’s Army’ against Big Bad John and his assorted ‘heels’.

Formerly a football star at the University of California, Iaukea headlined all over the world during his long career, known in particular for his bloody matches and feuds with Mark Lewin in a number of circuits.

After retiring in the mid-1980s, he turned to managing before he re-appeared briefly in the WWF as a manager and mouthpiece for wrestlers Kamala and Sika. He also appeared briefly as ‘The Master’ of The Dungeon of Doom stable in the mid-90s.

Under the name “Iau Kea” he also appeared in the film The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze with Moe Howard declaring “That’s not a man! That’s a committee!”.

His very last appearance was in a documentary made for and aired on Nine made by former wrestler Ron Miller called Ruff, Tuff and Real.

Source: Wikipedia, Fanhouse


  1. Daniel Dennis

    Many Australians will learn with sadness of the passing of the legendary Hawaiian super-heavyweight. In the late sixties and well into the seventies, watching the Sunday wrestling at noon with Jack Little and the boys was an Australian institution. Of all the riotous cast of good guys and berrer-than-bad guys, it is probably fair to say that none was as beloved as the wild, avuncular King Curtis. On Monday, talk at the office, over the counter, and in the school playground was often about the wild escapades of the improbable holds, the jaw dropping gimmicks, and the bizarre personalities from places overseas that seemed to Australians as distant as planets. In the business, King Curtis was guaranteed box office, filling our biggest venues to the brim with audiences, willing to literally bleed in battles night after night to take the fans to the peak of excitement. Anyone remember…

    King Curtis versus Bulldog Brower in a cage, racing round in circles until
    Brower got dizzy, fell over, and became victim of “The Hawaiian Splash”?

    The feuds with Mark Lewin, involving matches ending down the aisle
    and out into the street with heads being rammed against parked cars?

    Bloody matches against Tiger Singh that left both men having to be carried
    out of the ring?

    The end-of-match rants with Curtis roaring about Australia being in a state of
    war with Big Bad John’s “army”?

    King Curtis Iakeau – master showman, celebrity athlete, ambassador of the good life, and now treasured memory.

  2. I remember King Curtis from the 60’s and 70’s. he was never the greatest wrestling technician however he got himself across by being great on the mike.
    I remember going to the chanel 9 studios in Sydney where he challenged the then champion Mario Milano. Mario was doing him like a dinner but made the mistake of giving the 24 stoner the atomic drop well Marios knee was cactus and the King went on to win 2 falls to nil. After that he proceeded to hold a 30 minute interview with the crowd howling for more wrestling matches and dear old Roy Heffernan standing off camera trying to keep the crowd quiet.

  3. In the late 90s the US wrestling organisation WCW (now defunct) had a wrestler called Prince Iaukea. Not sure if he was really King Curtis’ son or not.

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