Dwayne Douglas Johnson is considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time; Johnson was born on May 2, 1972, at Hayward, California, but moved to Florida in 1989.
He was a college football player for the University of Miami, with whom he won a national championship in 1991, also known by his ring name The Rock, is an American actor, producer, and semi-retired professional wrestler.
After initially aspiring for a career in football, Johnson began training as a professional wrestler in the summer of 1995, after being cut from the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL).
In 1996, Johnson secured a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), and was promoted as the first third-generation wrestler in the company’s history.
He gained mainstream fame after adopting the persona of a charismatic, trash-talking bully named The Rock, and won his first singles title, the WWF Championship, in 1998.
He subsequently ushered the WWF, alongside fellow mainstream industry star Stone Cold Steve Austin, as the principal leaders of the Attitude Era, a boom period in company business in the latter 1990s and early 2000s.
The Rock has headlined several major WWE pay-per-view events, closing the company’s flagship annual event, Wrestle Mania, five times.
He has also won several championships in his career, is a two-time Intercontinental Champion, a five-time world tag team champion, and a ten-time world champion.
He is also a Royal Rumble match winner, and a Triple Crown champion after entering into a hiatus in 2004, The Rock returned to WWE part-time from 2011 to 2013 and continues to make occasional appearances.
Dwayne Johnson spent much of his childhood bouncing between homes in California and New Zealand. To say that wrestling was “in his blood” would be a gross understatement.
His father, Rocky Johnson, continued the family lineage first started by his grandparents, Peter and Lia Maivia, who were responsible for building Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling and who also had close “blood” ties to the legendary Anoaʻi family who counted Rikishi, Yokozuna, Roman Reigns and the Usos as would-be wrestlers.
When Johnson was 14, the family relocated to Honolulu while his father bounced around the wrestling circuits for the WWF.
Ultimately, the family’s financial disrepair forced Dwayne Johnson down a destructive path as a teenager.
“It was about, ‘What can I control with these two hands?’ he said. “The only thing I could do was train and builds my body. The successful men I knew were men who built their bodies.”
By the time Johnson was 16 years old, he was 6’4 225lbs, he continued to bounce around high schools in the States including stops at Glencliff and McGavock High Schools in Nashville, TN before a final stop at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, PA where he would finally put that ample frame to good use on the football field.
“I had a very bad mustache and a chip on my shoulder,” he said.
As Johnson quickly flourished on the football field as an agile defensive lineman, other areas in his life began to improve as well.
“My grades got better, and I started getting recruited from every college across the country,” he said. “
My thought process started to change. That’s when I started thinking about goals and what I wanted to accomplish.”
Johnson credits much of his success at an early age to Coach Cwik.
“I love that man. I’ll never forget the impact that he had on my life,” Johnson says.
“My take away from that amazing relationship that I had was the empathy that he had for a punk kid who treated him so rudely and disrespectfully.
He looked past that BS and said, ‘I believe in you and I want to turn you around.’”
Johnson graduated from Miami in 1995 with a Bachelor of General Studies degree in criminology and physiology but he wasn’t quite ready to give up on his football dreams despite the lack of interest from the NFL.
He ultimately joined the Calgary Stampede as a backup linebacker but was cut two months into the season.
Dwayne Johnson turned to the physicality of building up his body and ultimately football to overcome a rocky patch at home. Once again forced to sift through the rubble that was his life, it seemed only natural for him to once again look inward at what made him special; his wrestling pedigree.
“For me, I wasn’t just having ‘a tryout match,” because I had never actually had a real match in my life. Ever,” Johnson remembered.
“WWE thought that I already had multiple matches under my belt, but little did they know. What they also didn’t know was that I was broke as hell and didn’t actually own wrestling gear – no boots, knee pads or most importantly wrestling trunks.
I went to Sports Authority and bought some bright ass white volleyball knee pads, called my Uncle and asked if he had any trunks I could use for my tryout.”
Although he eventually found success in the ring – notably grabbing the intercontinental title from Triple H while wrestling on Monday Night Raw – his reception amongst fans was tepid at best.
Following a knee injury, Johnson refused to try and win back the adoration of the crowd. Instead, he became a member of the “Nation of Domination” alongside Faarooq, D’Lo Brown and Kama where he embraced the “heel” aspect of professional wrestling. And just like that, the wrestler who favored talking about himself in the third-person was born. Rocky Maivia was now just, “The Rock.”
Outside of wrestling, Johnson has attained success as an actor, producer, and writer , he has had leading film roles in The Scorpion King (2002), San Andreas (2015), Central Intelligence (2016), Moana (2016), and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and is widely known for his prominent role as Luke Hobbs in The Fast and the Furious franchise.
He has also produced several films under his production company Seven Bucks Productions and released his autobiography The Rock Says… in 2000, which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list.
He is consistently ranked among the world’s highest paid actors; Johnson was also named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016