John Cena speaks on stage during the CinemaCon Paramount Pictures Exclusive Presentation at the Colosseum Caesars Palace on April 4, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. ( AFP / VALERIE MACON)

False reports claim John Cena died from Covid-19

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Social media posts shared thousands of times claim that American wrestler and actor John Cena died on August 11, 2021 after being infected with Covid-19. The claim is false: Cena competed in WWE's Summer Slam 2021 on August 21. He has also been active on social media since the hoax reports circulated.

"Even the strong ones can die of Covid-19," reads a Burmese-language Facebook post from August 14, 2021.

It has been shared more than 6,000 times.

"WWE wrestler John Cena died suddenly of Covid-19. He contracted the virus last week and died on August 11, 2021 around 6:00PM at the New York General Hospital while receiving treatment".

Screenshot take on August 20, 2021 of the misleading post

AFP found similar posts on Facebook in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar, and on TikTok in Indonesia.

The claim, however, is false.

Cena competed in the WWE's Summer Slam 2021 on August 21. He was defeated by Universal Champion Roman Reigns.

There have been no credible media reports on Cena's purported death and no such announcement published on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s website, as of August 23, 2021.

Since the death hoax circulated online, the 44-year-old wrestler has been active on social media, posting regularly on his verified Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Some of the social media posts which share the hoax purport to show photos of Cena's funeral. However, reverse image searches on Google shows that the images were taken from various different events.

Coffin image

The image apparently showing photos of Cena next to a coffin has been doctored.

The original photo shows the funeral of "Hollywood Superman" Christopher Dennis, a street performer on Hollywood Boulevard.

The original image was published in an article by US entertainment site Deadline here.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in misleading posts (left) and the original image (right):

screenshot comparison of the image from the misleading post (L) to the original image (R)

Hospital bed

Another photo purportedly showing Cena in a hospital bed with his eyes taped over has in fact circulated online since at least 2013.

AFP traced the image to a blog post debunking a previous hoax about Cena's death.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading post (left) and the image in the blog post (right):

screenshot comparisons of the image from the misleading post (L) to the image from the blog post (R)

Casket photo

The photo showing wrestler and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson standing over a casket was in fact taken at his father's funeral in 2020.

British tabloid The Sun published the photo in an article on February 8, 2020.

It reports on the star's eulogy at his father Ricky's funeral.

The image's caption reads: "Dwayne Johnson touched his father's chest before saying goodbye one last time".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading post (left) and the original image (right):

screenshot comparisons of the image from the misleading post (L) to the image from the blog post (R)

Funeral congregation

The final photo was taken at the funeral of late US civil rights icon John Lewis, who died in July 2020.

The image was published in an article by the Associated Press news agency.

It was titled: "Fox News Channel viewers tune out for John Lewis' funeral".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading post (left) and the original image (right):

screenshot comparisons of the image from the misleading post (L) to the image from the blog post (R)

AFP has previously debunked false reports of the deaths of various celebrities, including Elon Musk and Rowan Atkinson.

COVID-19