WWE star Roman Reigns breaks character on live TV to announce cancer battle

WWE superstar Roman Reigns has announced that his real-life battle with leukaemia will force him to step away from the ring, effective immediately.

He made the announcement to the world on live television on Tuesday (NZ time).

Reigns, real name Joe Anoa'i, relinquished his WWE Universal Title in the opening segment of WWE Raw, in an interview that was not scripted nor part of an on-going story-line.

The 33-year-old was originally diagnosed in 2008, at the age of 22, and although he quickly went into remission, Reigns told the audience he has been fighting back the disease ever since.

Reigns broke character for the first time in his career, something rarely seen on WWE television.

"That's all lies and it's a lie, because the reality is my name is Joe and I've been living with leukaemia for 11 years, and unfortunately it's back," he said.

"Because the leukaemia is back, I can't fulfil my role. I can't be that fighting champion and I'm going to have to relinquish the universal championship.

"I'm not going to lie, I'll take every prayer you can send my way, but I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not looking for you to feel bad for me, because I have faith."

Reigns has been the company's main star the past five years, main-eventing WWE's WrestleMania event since 2015.

The former college American football standout vowed to beat the disease one more time.

"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 I will be back - so you will see me very, very soon."

Reigns older brother, former WWE superstar Rosey (Matthew Anoa'i), passed away in 2017, due to congestive heart failure.

Reigns is the cousin of WWE legend Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and the son of Hall of Fame inductee, The Wild Samoan Sika.


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