Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum PI actor Taylor Wiley dies aged 56

Taylor Wiley (CBS )
Taylor Wiley (CBS )

Former sumo wrestler and American actor Taylor Wily, best known for his roles in Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum PI, has died. He was 56.

Wily’s passing was announced on Thursday (June 20) by local Hawaii KITV Island News reporter Lina Girl, who said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I share the news of the passing of a Hawaii celebrity, who is also a family friend, Taylor Wily, former sumo wrestler, MMA fighter and actor passed away today in Hurricane, Utah.”

As a sumo wrestler, he wrestled under the name Takamikuni before eventually retiring due to knee problems, Girl said during the live broadcast.

“A lot of people know him for his acting roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and as Kamekona on the Hawaii Five-0 redo,” she added, “but for our family, he is one of my mom’s boys and my husband Sam’s childhood friend. He was and always will be our Big T.”

A cause of death has not yet been released.

Wily was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 14, 1968. In 1987 he was recruited as a sumo wrestler in Japan. Weighing in at nearly 440 lbs (200 kg), he was among the largest sumo wrestlers in the world. He was promoted to makushita, the third-highest division, where he became the first foreign-born wrestler to ever win the division’s championship. By March 1989, he reached Makushita 2, his highest rank ever, before retiring that July.

Taylor Wiley as Kamekona in behind-the-scenes footage of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ (CBS)
Taylor Wiley as Kamekona in behind-the-scenes footage of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ (CBS)

The next year, he tried his hand at mixed martial arts (MMA), joining New Japan Pro Wrestling as a trainee. He went on to compete as Teila Tuli in his first and only Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in November 1993. During the match against savate expert Gerard Gordeau, Wily landed a punch that broke Gordeau’s hand. The referee ended up calling an end to the fight, declaring Gordeau the winner on a technical knockout (TKO).

Following a few on-screen appearances in the original Eighties Magnum PI, the one-season drama Marker and the two-season drama One West Waikiki, Wily eventually landed a small role in the 2008 classic romcom Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He portrayed Kemo, the hotel worker who befriends Jason Segel’s lead character.

Then, two years later, Wily landed his recurring role in the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, which ran from 2010 to 2020. He starred as confidential informant Kamekona in 171 episodes of the police procedural.

He later reprised Kamekona in seven episodes of the Magnum PI reboot and one episode of the MacGyver reboot, both of which exist in the same world as Hawaii Five-0.

Wily is survived by his wife, Halona, and their two children.