Read on to learn whether boxing legend Muhammad Ali had a role to play in WWE superstar, The Rock’s life, if Ali helped Dwayne Johnson in the initial phase of his WWE career, and how it worked for Johnson.
The Rock made his WWE debut in 1996 ( WWE )
Hollywood star and former WWE wrestler, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is an inspiration for millions of fans around the world. But, there is one man who inspired The Rock, all through his life, and had a big role to play in his career.
The man is the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali. The Rock’s fans do not know that the phrase, “The People’s Champion” used by The Rock was in a way gifted to him by Muhammad Ali. The Rock, who entered the WWE scene in 1996, came in as Rocky Maivia, and he underwent a character transformation, a year later.
He played a heel character and thought of using ‘The People’s Champ’ title from Muhammad Ali. However, he also sought permission from Ali before using it.
How The Rock approached Muhammad Ali to use ‘The People’s champ’ phrase for his WWE character?
During a guest appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, the Rock shared how he requested the use of the title, ‘The People’s Champion’ from his icon, Muhammad Ali.
He recounted an event when Ali’s family attended a wrestling event in Louisville, Kentucky, and The Rock there took permission from Ali’s wife to use the phrase. Johnson said that he conveyed his deep respect for Muhammad Ali, and asked for permission to use ‘The People Champion’ nickname. He also told them that if Ali had an objection to it, he would immediately cease incorporating it into his character.
According to The Rock, Ali’s wife conveyed a powerful response to him. She told him that Muhammad Ali had conveyed that “The People’s Champion was now his to use.”
Since then, there was no looking back for The Rock, and he went on to use the iconic moniker, and it became a huge success. The Rock turned into a star overnight, and he had shed his Rocky Maivia character.
Dwayne Johnson went on to become the face of the company, a trusted Vince McMahon soldier who could drive the crowd crazy with his mic skills.
The Rock’s Hollywood success
The Rock climbed up the ladder of success not only in WWE but also in Hollywood, when he featured in the 2002 movie The Scorpion King. The film was a massive success and established The Rock as a star in Hollywood.
Over the years, The Rock has achieved nearly every milestone in his life. However, he never forgot to thank Muhammad Ali for the role he played in his life.
In one of the award shows, The Rock on stage quoted, Muhammad Ali. He said, “Muhammad Ali, in one of my favorite quotes says, “The service to others is the rent you pay for the room you have on earth”.