Nia Jax is the current RAW Woman’s Champion in the WWE. She won the title at WrestleMania 34, and will defend it at the upcoming Money in the Bank against challenger Ronda Rousey. That being said, Jax, born Savelina Fanene, is not the only famous champion in her family. According to The Richest, she is actually a member of the Anoa’i clan, widely considered to be one of the most respected and beloved names in wrestling.
Jax has been quick to praise the family that came before her, and she has a close relationship with many of them who are currently wrestling in the WWE, including The Usos, Roman Reigns, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Here’s what you need to know about Nia Jax and her family:
1. Her Aunt Ata Maivia-Johnson Encouraged Her To Join The WWE
Jax started off her professional career as plus-size model, but she always had a soft spot for wrestling. “I always had a love for the business,” she told WWE in 2015, “I remember hearing the stories about the patriarch of our family, ‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia, starting out wrestling in a rundown gym back in Auckland, New Zealand, then traveling the world, wrestling all over.”
Jax revealed that one of her biggest reservations in becoming a wrestler was her figure. “I considered wrestling at a young age,” she said, “But I never could relate to any of the Divas. I have always been a bigger girl, and I did not think that WWE would want a girl my size, so I never expressed my dream to wrestle.”
It was only after talking with Ata Maivia-Johnson, Jax’s aunt and the mother of WWE superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, that she decided to follow her dream. She credits Ata, along with her parents Joseph and Renate Fanene, with the great success she’s had since.
Jax also believes that her humble beginnings in New Zealand, Australia helped form her ruthless stage persona. “My mother worked multiple jobs and always made sure that her kids never had to want for anything,” she explained, “My parents always kept my brothers and I in sports to keep us out of trouble. Having two brothers made it tough and very competitive. My dad always had me play sports with the boys because he believed that it made me more aggressive and fearless.”
2. She’s Very Close With Her Cousin Dwayne Johnson
Among the other WWE wrestlers in her family, Jax is closest with Dwayne Johnson. In an interview with Fightful in 2015, Jax claimed that Johnson is “constantly” giving her advice, and genuinely cares about her career. The wrestler added that “People who see him on social media and the public eye are like ‘oh he’s a great guy’ and he really is. He truly cares.” Jax also cited Johnson’s fame as a great source of encouragement, telling WWE “I remember being ringside at WrestleMania 28, watching my cousin Dwayne face [John] Cena, and thinking to myself, ‘I have to do this!’”
Johnson has been equally forthcoming with praise for his younger cousin. He posted a photo of the two of them working out in 2015, and wrote about much he loves “spending hours with her chopping it up because she’s so coachable & enthusiastic to learn the wrestling business inside and out from me.” Read the full post below.
Johnson also praises Jax’s status as a role model, writing that she “Represents millions of young girls around the world who don’t fit the “traditional mold” of what girls in the entertainment industry look like. She’s an inspiring example that regardless of your look, height, weight, race, the most powerful thing you can always be is yourself. Because you’re perfect.”
Jax took a much-noted leave of absence from WWE in 2017, and when asked about why, she revealed that it was because she felt overworked. Jax told Sports Illustrated that she asked Johnson for advice, and he said that if she was unhappy she should walk away. She has since returned to WWE full-time.
3. She And Ata Maivia-Johnson Were In a Serious Car Accident In 2014
In 2014, Jax and Ata Maivia-Johnson were both involved in a serious a car accident. According to The National Post, the pair were hit by a drunk driver while on their way back from a charity event in Minneola, Florida. Dwayne Johnson broke the news on his Instagram account, posting a photo of the wreckage along with a caption that read:
First reaction is to find the person who did this and do unrelenting harm to them. But then you realize the most important thing is my family lived thru this and we can hug each other that much tighter these days. Hug your own family tighter today and be grateful you can tell them you love them.
Neither Jax nor her aunt were mortally wounded in the accident, but subsequent Instagram photos did show that Jax was hospitalized and had to wear a sling on her arm. A few days after the accident, she took to Instagram to update her fans, writing: “Not sure why the woman decided to drive her car, head first, into our car…but I do know that we are extremely lucky to be alive and that everything we have is fixable. It’s a bump in the road, but we will get past it and be stronger than before.” You can read the full post here.
The accident inspired one of Jax’s other relatives, Afa the Wild Samoan (born Afa Anoa’i), to start a drunk driving campaign on social media.”I was the first one allowed to go in to see Ata and Lina in the emergency room,” he wrote on Facebook, “I thank God that [they] had such a strong, safe vehicle, because they survived what could have been a fatal tragedy.”
In 2017, Jax appeared on an episode of “Ride Along” with WWE announcers Tom Phillips & Corey Graves. During the interview, Jax revealed that the car wreck led to her having a metal plate put in her clavicle. She joked that it made her a “bionic woman.” Watch a clip from the episode here.
4. Her Cousin Roman Reigns Will Also Compete At ‘Money in the Bank’
Jax’s cousin Roman Reigns will also compete at Money in the Bank 2018. Reigns, born Leati Joseph “Joe” Anoaʻi, is slated to fight former WWE Champion Jinder Mahal in a singles match. Reigns and Jax have never addressed their relation publicly, but it is said that they are supportive of one another.
Reigns has been vocal about his support for the rest of the Anoa’i family, even when he challenged Dwayne Johnson to a match at WrestleMania. “We represent the same family tree and having the opportunity to represent our culture,” Reigns told The Sun, “There would obviously have to be a sit down and we would have to express how we feel and the light we want to do this in because there’s a lot of people we represent watching.”
In April 2017, Reigns’ brother Matt Anoa’i passed away after being hospitalized for congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Anoa’i wrestled under the name Rosey, and previously held the WWE Tag-Team Championship.“Right now, it’s one of those situations where it’s a lot of mixed feelings,” Reigns told WWE, “When you live in a big family, it’s always great to be able to come together, but to have to come together to send off a brother and not only was he my brother, but in our family, even when you’re cousins, we’re all so close that we feel like brothers.”
Reigns praised his family’s sense of unity after Anoa’i’s death. “Everybody’s grieving,” he said, “But to see our family come together and have a hundred-plus family and friends come together to celebrate my brother’s life really meant a lot. It just continually picks up our family and keeps us moving on.”
5. She Is The Most Recent Anoa’i To Win A Championship Title
As is to be expected from a family with so many famed wrestlers, the Anoa’i have a high number of titles to their name. They have 6 Tag-Team Championships courtesy of The Wild Samoans, The Headshrinkers, and The Usos, and three WWE World Championships courtesy of Yokozuna, Dwayne Johnson and Roman Reigns. Nia Jax was the latest to add to this dynasty when she won the RAW Women’s Championship in 2017.
In a post-win interview with WWE, Jax spoke on why she felt her title was so important. “I’m glad [about] what it represents more than anything”, she said, “What I fought for, the message I want to send to everybody, the message I want to send young boys and girls… to stand up for themselves, to never be bullied or feel ‘less than’ or let anyone make you feel insecure about yourself.” Watch the full interview above.
Jax will be defending her title against Ronda Rousey at Money in the Bank.