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Hawaii Five-0 Actor Taylor Wily Passes Away At 56, UFC Fans React

Taylor Wily passed away at the age of 56 on June 20, 2024. He was known for his role as Kamekona Tupuola in the TV reboot of "Hawaii Five-0" and his historic appearance in UFC 1.

Taylor Wily passed away on June 20 at the age of 56. Photo: X

Taylor Wily, a pioneer in mixed martial arts and a beloved actor, passed away on June 20, 2024, at the age of 56. He was known for his memorable role as Kamekona Tupuola in the TV reboot of "Hawaii Five-0" and his historic appearance in UFC 1. Wily left an indelible mark on both the sports and entertainment worlds.

Wily’s death was confirmed by Peter M. Lenkov, the executive producer of "Hawaii Five-0." Lenkov expressed his heartbreak on Instagram, reminiscing about their first meeting and the strong bond they formed over the years. “T, as I told you many times, I fell in love with you at the first audition. You came in with a towel on your head mopping up sweat, and I was smitten. You charmed me into making you a regular… on the show… and in my life. You were family. And I will miss you every day, brother.”

The cause of death has not been made public. Wily is survived by his wife Halona and their two children.

Born and raised in Laie, Hawaii, Wily was recruited into the Azumazeki stable of sumo in 1987, wrestling under the name Takamikuni. He quickly made history by becoming the first foreign-born wrestler to win the championship in the sport’s makushita division. Despite his early success, Wily retired from sumo due to knee issues.

Wily’s sports career took a pivotal turn when he appeared in the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship event in 1993. Competing as Teila Tuli, he faced Dutch kickboxer Gerard Gordeau in a bout famously remembered as a "David vs. Goliath" matchup. Though he lost by technical knockout, his participation cemented his legacy as a pioneer in mixed martial arts.

While following his fighting career, Wily gradually transitioned into acting. His role as Kamekona Tupuola in "Hawaii Five-0" endeared him to fans, who appreciated his portrayal of the lovable shrimp truck owner and informant. Wily also appeared in the comedy film, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", and an episode of "The Amazing Race."

Fans react to Taylor Wily's death

The news of Wily’s passing prompted an outpouring of tributes from fans and colleagues alike. UFC fans took to social media platform X to honor his contributions to the sport.

One fan shared on X: 'Teila Tuli—one half of the first TELEVISED UFC bout in history—has died aged 56. Prior to NHB, Tuli was a sumo wrestler. Regardless of the result Tuli was part of one of the most iconic moments in combat sports history.'

Another wrote: 'Teila Tuli, the first fighter to EVER step into the octagon in 1993, sadly passed away today at aged 56. A true pioneer of MMA,' another wrote.

'The first fighter to ever step inside the UFC octagon for the first ever fight. A pioneer of MMA. Rip Teila Tuli,' shared another fan on X.

Carmen Bidalot, a film industry veteran who knew Wily personally, expressed her sorrow on social media: “It was with sadness that I learned of the death of actor Teila Tuli also known as Taylor Wily. He played the unforgettable Kamekona in the American television series Hawaii Five-0. All my thoughts are with his family.”