Being in the WWE is quite an interesting thing for an athlete. It’s not just about being a good wrestler – there’s the all-important elements of showmanship, marketability and becoming a fan favorite – and that’s after working a path through the development leagues and up in the ranks of the organization. But that’s exactly what Kofi Kingston has done. Born Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, the 32-year-old Ghana-born, Boston-bred WWE Superstar is 6 feet tall and 212 pounds, which makes him smaller than many of his counterparts. But he was determined to do it after giving a post-college desk job a try. Since 2006, Kingston has won ten championships, including a World Tag Team Champion with CM Punk, working his way up from Chaotic Wresting and the ECW into the WWE Development circuit and finally landing in the SmackDown division. His signature move is called Trouble In Paradise and his storyline feuds rank up there with some of the best. On the phone days before the WWE Live match in Dallas – which will not be televised, he recalls, “I have a special history down there because I won the Intercontinental Championship a while ago against Chris Jericho there in 2008. Dallas is a great crowd to perform in front of – when we feel that energy we can give more energy back and forth until the whole roof blows off. It’s definitely going to be a great show to be a part of.” Kingston is also happy that being a non-televised show, he gets more time with the fans. He says proudly, “These shows that aren’t shown have a more intimate feeling and we get to interact a lot more with the people, which makes it great.”
Here’s more from Kingston:
AMFM: It has to be a great feeling going into these matches having proven yourself as a champion and one of the most popular wrestlers on the bill after working your way up.
Kofi Kingston: Definitely. Right now I’m not a champion, but I’m always a champion of the people as they say. Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton will be there, along with CM Punk, Curtis Axel – and Fandango will be dancing around and while the crowd hums his song and starts dancing around and having a good time. We’re definitely bringing the good times to Dallas, Texas.
AMFM: Who were your favorite wrestlers growing up?
KK: I always liked the high flying wrestlers and mudsliders, so I liked Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. He was the perfect hybrid: he came out to the ring with a dragon and breathing fire wearing all of these bright colors. That’s kind of what I do when I come out there. He was one of the guys that was a big influence in terms of guys who got me interested in WWE so I hope I’m doing the same thing for the next generation of WWE Superstars.
AMFM: Some of these storylines are nuts. Do you have any influence on them as a performer?
KK: Yeah, we do have a bit of influence. You’d be foolish not to interject a little of your opinion on the way things are going to go but regardless of what ends up happening, the crowd at the WWE are the ones that are going to get a great show no matter what. That’s what separates us from any other sporting event. We have no off-season and we’re the longest running episodic show in the history of television and the reason we are is because we’re entertaining from week to week because we always have great storylines and that’s what we deal with week to week. We get in there and every match is a story. If you have a guy like me in there – or Daniel Bryan – he’s not the biggest guy, he’s not the strongest guy but you might not think to have him as the face of the company. Then you have a guy like Randy Orton, who’s 6’ 5” and is the epitome of what you think the face of the business would look like. Now you have these guys going up against each other and it’s almost like David and Goliath. You see a guy trying to overcome insurmountable odds. That’s what you see when you see a WWE match.
AMFM: You have the most passionate fans and they follow you everywhere. What is it like to be on and in character all of the time?
KK: We definitely realize that without the fans, there is no us, you know what I mean? We have one of the strongest fanbases in entertainment. We have fans that wait for hours and hours and hours outside just to hope to get a glimpse of their favorite WWE superstars. I always try and go over and sign autographs and take pictures, but most of the time that may not happen but our show is so entertaining and such a fun thing to be a part of that you can’t help but being affected by it. It’s awesome to see out there in the front row a kid smiling at you that you gave a high five to and you made his day. It’s humbling because at one point I was on the other side of the barrier looking to get a high five. And now being on social media, it’s on a whole different level. Being on Twitter, you can actually communicate with us. You can see everything said – good and bad – and have access to your favorite WWE superstars. We’re very interactive. That’s a big part of who we are and we definitely appreciate it.
AMFM: What advice would you give someone looking to get into wresting? It’s not the easiest thing to break into.
KK: Everyone has their own story, but to me, the main thing to be a WWE superstar is to never give up. As stereotypical as that sounds, this is one of the hardest industries to break into. You’ll be told by a lot of people that you can’t make it. I was always told that I wasn’t big enough, tall enough, strong enough, I wasn’t 6’ 3” and 280 so I wouldn’t make it and now here I am and I’ve been a champion of WWE ten times. I’ve traveled all over the world and met a lot of great people and the same people that told me I wasn’t going to be here are asking for my autograph. You just can’t give up no matter who tells you that you can’t do it. You have to know in your heart that you can do it and have to do everything you can to get there. As long as you do that, you will make it.
AMFM: So what was your “Hail Mary” moment?
KK: That was going for it in my career. For some reason when we grow up and get to be adults we haven’t even tried to follow our dreams. I graduated from high school, graduated from college, got a job in the corporate world and was in a cubicle and it wasn’t for me. I’m sure I could have done it and I would have been fine – or I could pursue my dreams and that’s what I did do and I’m so glad that I did because I’m one of the very few I know that can say I’m living out my childhood dreams and it’s a great, great thing.
AMFM: Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans before you see them on Saturday?
KK: To all the Kofi Kingston fans, I was to say thank you for supporting me and the entire WWE universe. We all appreciate each and every one of you and without you there is no us. That being said, come to the show in Dallas at 7:30 Saturday, September 28th at American Airlines Center. It’s going to be something you don’t want to miss – for sure!