During the 1970s, the King of Tonga chose five teenagers to go study sumo in Japan. One of the lucky ones was Sione Vailahi, who would someday become known as the Barbarian in the NWA and WWE. The training would provide him a little boost as a professional wrestler.
In 1986, the Warlord started working out at a new gym when he was approached by the owner, better known to wrestling fans as Road Warrior Animal, about a possible career change. Animal sent him to Dusty Rhodes, and a contract with the NWA shortly followed.