Evolution Of An Animal: What You Don’t Know About The Life And Wrestling Career Of Dave Bautista

While some people see Dave Bautista (or Batista, to use the WWE spelling) as a coddled WWE star, somebody hand-picked for his impressive physique, Big Dave has lived a tougher life than most in the company, and his ascent to the top of the wrestling business (and eventually, show business in Guardians of the Galaxy) was far from a sure thing. Batista isn’t perfect, but he’s a unique guy whose personality and passions might surprise you.

So, lace up your boots and get ready to walk for miles through these surprising facts about WWE’s Animal…

Three people died in Batista’s front yard before he was nine.

David Bautista Jr. was born in January 1969 in Washington, D.C. His father was second-generation Filipino American, while his mother Donna was of Greek descent. Dave’s dad wasn’t in the picture much during his younger years, so his mom raised him and his sister solo in the hardscrabble southeast section of the city. Things can still be hard in Washington, but things were particularly rough in the ’70s because, well, pretty much everything was rougher in the ’70s. Batista generally looks back on his time in Washington with nostalgia, every kid thinks their childhood is normal, but he was surrounded by gangs, drugs and other dangerous influences throughout his formative years.

According to Batista, two men were found dead in or near their front yard as a kid. It was a third death that forced Batista’s mom to pull up stakes. A man was shot in the head near Batista’s house, and a call to the police didn’t bring a response for nearly an hour. The neighborhood kids, including Dave and his sister, gathered around the man, but before long they were telling jokes and horsing around like usual as a man lay dying on the sidewalk. Batista’s mom, not wanting her kids to be desensitized to such tragedies, immediately packed up her family for an unknown future in San Francisco.

He was seriously into breakdancing as a kid.

If you’ve read a few of these facty wrestler biographies of mine, you know most famous pro wrestlers started off as gifted amateur athletes. Hell, even Mick Foley was star jock in high school. Batista wasn’t. This was mostly due to him not having the grades to get on any teams (he was booted off the wrestling team in his senior year). That said, young Dave did have one athletic outlet – The Animal loved to breakdance.

Yes, stiff-ass, wooden Batista, a guy whose hamstrings would probably tear off and fly away if he tried to touch his toes, was a b-boy at a teenager. Years later, WWE even had him show off his breakdancing skills in a SummerSlam promo (which you can watch above). I’m going to be very generous and assume he was a better dancer back before he became a 300-pound muscle monster. At least I hope he was.

A messy breakup led to him getting interested in pro wrestling.

After high school, Batista got seriously into bodybuilding and, like a lot of muscle guys, fell into bouncing. For Batista, who was even more ridiculously massive than he is now, it was easy money, so he ended up sticking with it for more than a decade.

In the late ’90s, he was finally shook from his comfortable rut when he set eyes on Angie, the woman who would become his second wife. Unfortunately, when he met Angie, he was still in the midst of a six-year relationship with another woman named Maryanne. Bautista started seeing Angie on the sly, but as is usually the case, the affair was found out and Maryanne broke it off and moved to Minneapolis.