WWE star Roman Reigns reveals battle with leukemia

On Monday night, WWE star Roman Reigns – real name Joe Anoa’i – revealed that he was taking a leave of absence as he battles leukemia.

The stunning announcement opened “Raw” as Anoa’i revealed that he has battled the disease in the past and that he had been in remission since 2008.

Anoa’i, one of the biggest stars in the WWE, revealed that due to his health, he would be relinquishing the Universal Championship, which he was set to defend in a triple-threat match against Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman at the “Crown Jewel” event set to take place next month in Saudi Arabia.

“My real name is Joe and I’ve been living with Leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately, it’s back. And because the leukemia is back, I cannot fulfill my role, I can’t be that fighting champion [I said I would be],” Anoa’i announced.

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DUESSELDORF, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 22: Roman Reigns reacts during to the WWE Live Duesseldorf event at ISS Dome on February 22, 2017 in Duesseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Lukas Schulze/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Roman Reigns, right, and Joelle Anoa'i arrives at the Kids' Choice Sports Awards at the Barker Hangar on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns celebrate their victory at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)
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SANTA MONICA, CA - JULY 19: Wrestler Roman Reigns poses in the Green Room at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports 2018 at Barker Hangar on July 19, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/VMN18/Getty Images For Nickelodeon)
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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: (L-R) Titus O'Neil, Hulk Hogan, Chris Jericho, and Roman Reigns attend the 2015 NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Upfront at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on May 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
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The crowd, which normally heavily boos the former Georgia Tech football star, gave Anoa’i an emotional ovation and chanted “Thank you, Roman” during the announcement. Anoa’i laid his championship belt in the center of the ring and was then joined by his stablemates Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as he made his teary-eyed departure.

Anoa’i, who said his previous bout with the cancer ended his football career, vowed to return to WWE.

“I want to make one thing clear, by no means is this a retirement speech, because after I’m done [beating] Leukemia once again, I’m coming back home.”

Following Anoa’i’s announcement, support from around the wrestling world poured in.

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