This weekend, The Cenation Leader, The Face That Runs the Place, The Champ, John Cena, turns 40. For more than a decade, he’s been the biggest name in pro wrestling, but he hasn’t always been the John Cena. There was a time when Cena was just another muscular dude, fumbling his way through the business on luck and determination. Was John Cena destined for greatness? Maybe, but nobody’s life is a straight line.
Here are a few things you might not know about the years before The Champ truly arrived…
John Cena’s battles began during his birth.
John Felix Anthony Cena brappadooed his way into the world on April 23, 1977, although the birth wasn’t without complications. According to comments made by John Cena Sr., little Johnny was born with the umbilical cord wrapped three times around his neck, which was obviously an extremely scary situation. Miraculously, Cena survived his difficult birth unscathed, not suffering any long-term effects. John Cena, overcoming the odds since birth.
12-year-old Cena asked for a weightlifting bench for Christmas.
John was the second-oldest of five kids (all boys) and pro wrestling was the Cena family’s main source of televised entertainment. The Cena boys would set up makeshift rings in the basement out of mattresses, and battle for hand-drawn cardboard belts. John was, of course, the mastermind and perennial champ of the Cena Basement Wrestling Federation.
John also got into body building early on. Like, really early on. Cena was being picked on at school, so when he was 12, he asked Santa for a weightlifting bench. He got it. By the time Cena graduated high school, he was massive and competing in bodybuilding contests. If you’ve ever wanted to know what’s under those jorts, there are more pictures of thong-clad bodybuilder John Cena out there than you might think. Just sayin’.