Wrestling is a game of drama as well as athleticism, with convoluted story-lines brought to the fray as pro athletes throw each other around and perform signature moves.

But the news this morning is anything but entertaining as current legend of the sport Roman Reigns announced that he has been suffering with leukemia.

Real name Joe Anoa’i, Reigns said that while he was diagnosed back in 2008, at the age of 22, the disease promptly went into remission, meaning he was able to continue with his career.

Sadly though, the WWE’s universal champion said that he was now going to have to step away from the ring, and announced that he would relinquish his title with immediate effect.

He said:

That’s all lies and it’s a lie because the reality is my name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately it’s back.

Because the leukemia is back, I can’t fulfill 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.”

He went on to say that this wasn’t a retirement speech though:

Sometimes life throws you a curveball and the best thing for me to do is to go home and focus on my health. But I want to make one thing clear: By no means is this a retirement speech because after I’m done whupping leukemia’s ass, I’m coming back home. And when I do, it’s not going to be about titles and being on top, it’s about a purpose.

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.”

WWE released a statement shortly after the opening segment:

Tonight on Monday Night Raw, Roman Reigns (aka Joe Anoa’i) announced that he is relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship and taking a leave of absence from WWE as he once again fights leukemia, which had been in remission since late 2008. Reigns is taking his battle with leukemia public in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research in order to advance cures for the disease.

We wish Anoa’i the best, and hope he can make a full recovery.

Images via Getty