Before he became the face of pro wrestling, John Cena was just another guy living out of his car, trying to make it in Hollywood. John Cena was born in Northern Massachusetts in 1977, the second oldest of five siblings. Cena had a solid, middle class upbringing. He went to private schools, and had a stable family life.
Even though he was not from the mean streets, Cena was always one tough dude. When he was 12, he was at that point a committed weightlifter. In college, he was a Division III All American in football as an offensive lineman. Cena flirted with pursuing a career in football after graduation, but ultimately decided he was too short. After graduation, Cena moved to LA with $500 and a dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder.
He had the drive but success was fleeting. He folded towels in a local gym and took shifts as a limousine driver to pay the bills. Sometimes, he slept in the car. Cena eventually considered pro wrestling on a friend’s suggestion. He began his career in 1999, in short stints with Ultimate Pro Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. He rose up the ranks, and made his WWE debut in 2002, answering an open challenge from superstar Kurt Angle.
Cena’s WWE persona has undergone some evolution since his initial debut. He began as Terminator-style character, and then burst onto the scene as a rapper type, complete with a chain and backwards hat. But after a few years, his image morphed into the clean cut, heroic character he is today. Regardless of the changes Cena’s persona has gone through, there as one constant winning. In his WWE tenure, Cena has racked up 25 championships, including 16 reigns as world champion. That ties him with Ric Flair for the most in WWE history. Outside the ring, Cena has established a successful second career on the big screen.
He made his leading man debut in the 2006 film The Marine, and has followed it up with scene-stealing roles in movies like Trainwreck, Sisters, and his latest hit, 2018s Blockers. More than that, Cena is also a relentless philanthropist. He has granted more wishes to sick kids than any other celebrity in the history of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with more than 500 wishes granted.
Whether it’s in the ring, on the screen, or in people’s everyday lives, John Cena leaves his mark on everything he touches. It’s no wonder he is arguably the most popular man in America today.