Savelina Fanene whose ring name is Nia Jax (formerly Zada) is a professional women wrestling champion and also a plus-size model. She is signed to the RAW platform (Women Division) and became RAW Women’s Champion shortly after.
Nia Jax is regarded as a heel (villainess) in the division and has a history of professional feuds. There is so much you should know about this female wrestler. Read on…
Early Life and Rise to Fame
Nia Jax was born Savelina Fanene on May 29, 1984, in Sydney, Australia. She was however raised by her parents – Joseph Fanene and Renate Fanene in Honolulu, Hawaii. Some sources, however, claim she was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in the United States because that is where she grew up.
Nia Jax is of mixed ancestry as her father, Joseph is from the Samoan lineage. He belongs to the Anoaʻi family which descends from American Samoa; these guys are known to produce professional fighters and wrestlers. On the other hand, her mother is of German descent. Nia learned to speak the German language from her mother.
It is worthy of mention here that she is a cousin to retired WWE superstar, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who spurred her into pursuing a career in professional wrestling, Dwayne remains her biggest fan.
Based on the suggestion that she was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, she is named as one of the six superstars whose place of origin could be traced to the Islands of Aloha. Coming from the Anoaʻi wrestling family, Nia Jax did not initially show interest in the sport, rather she picked up interest in karate, judo, and kickboxing as a child. Her parents, who did not want to force her against her own wish encouraged her by enrolling her in karate and judo classes. She, however, got into trouble and was sent home for assaulting another child. Her trainers reported that she was too strong for the class as she was fond of beating up her classmates.
She shifted her attention to basketball which she played in her high school, Carlsbad High School in California where she was part of the school’s basketball team. After high school, Nia proceeded to the Palomar College in San Marcos, California, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and also played college basketball
Nia Jax is an Australian and American citizen, she’s 6 ft (1.83 m) tall and weighs 123 kg (272 lbs).
Nia Jax’s Modeling and WWE Career
Nia Jax played basketball in high school as she had the height for it. Her performance in the sport earned her a college scholarship which saw her attend Palomar College where she continued playing basketball. In 2003, her team won the Pacific Coast Conference Championship. Nia was so good that she was going to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). But then, she opted for a change and chased after a career in professional wrestling.
Professional Wrestling – WWE Career
Even though she ignored it at the beginning, it was only inevitable that Nia Jax will embrace life as a wrestler someday having being plucked out of the Anoa’i family, notoriously known for forging professional wrestlers and champions of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Having had a rather successful stint with basketball (in college) and modeling, she honored her bloodline by signing up for wrestling after she saw the Wrestlemania match dubbed “Once in a Lifetime Match” between her cousin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida.
The April 1, 2012 match ended with The Rock emerging victorious, but he was not the only victor as WWE also got the signature of another female wrestling superstar – Nia Jax.
She decided to put a pause on her burgeoning modeling career to become a professional wrestler and The Rock was a big supporter. He took her to the WWE Performance Center in Florida and hooked her up with the best trainers who could help her get the best possible results in the field.
Nia signed her first WWE contract in 2014 and started competing in the WWE development category, NXT. She got her first ring fight – an introductory vignette – on May 7, 2015, in a tag team wrestling match. Nia entered the competition with the ring name “Zada” was tagged with Devin Taylor against Carmella (Leah Van Dale) and Bayley (Pamela Rose Martinez). She lost the match and fought in other vignettes before changing her ring name to “Nia Jax”.
October 14, 2015, saw her make her NXT mark, defeating Evie (Cheree Crowley). The victory spurred her on and she went on a winning streak – including defeating Carmella in a singles match – before going ahead to form a wrestling alliance with Eva Marie which they dubbed “The Power Alliance.”
Nia Jax continued her impressive NXT Women Championship showings at RAW following her selection at the 2016 WWE Draft on July 19, 2016. This means she would spend just a little above one year in NXT which was a very rare occurrence as aspiring wrestlers would spend years developing within the NXT ranks before getting the opportunity on the big stage.
Nia fought (and wounded) Britt Baker on RAW debut at the Monday Night Raw in July 2016. In 2018, she challenged Ronda Rousey to a wrestling match which Rousey obliged.
Her Modeling Career
The WWE star is also a plus-size model which was a source of livelihood before the fortunes of wrestling started flowing in. Nia was previously ashamed of her body but she saw it was a gift when she was approached in an event she attended in California. It was a modeling event and one of the judges on the show met her and offered her the opportunity to showcase her body in a modeling project for plus-size women. She accepted and soon had had several photoshoots in bikinis and beach wears.
The experience changed her self-image and made her believe in herself more. Since then, she has been an advocate, promoting self-love and body positivity as she understands the challenges she went through while growing up with a big body. Nia believes that no matter the body type, there is a positive to derive from it, and despite her WWE career, she still does her plus-size modeling, using it as a weapon to inspire confidence in other women.
Nia Jax’s wrestling career would have been cut short in its prime had she not survived a fatal accident that occurred on August 2, 2014. She was involved in a head-on car collision with another vehicle whose driver was drunk. Nia was in the car with Dwayne Johnson’s mother, Ata Maivia-Johnson (her aunt) and luckily, no life was lost.
The star only sustained few injuries and was discharged from the hospital a few days later while the driver was charged for driving under the influence (DUI).
Her Love Life, Who’s Nia’s Boyfriend?
Nia Jax is not yet married but she is in a relationship. Her social media accounts show that she is in a romantic tangle with Josh Woods, who is also a wrestler.
Their relationship seems to be blossoming and the couple looks happy together from the picture posts on Instagram. They have been very open about their relationship and their fans wish them well. Maybe we will hear the wedding bells ring soon.