By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter
Wrestling superstar R-Truth, whose real name is Ronnie Aaron Killings, is not just a professional wrestler who has been a one-time United States Champion and WWE Tag Team Champion. The multi-talented entertainer is also a rapper who is widely known for his over-the-top dancing styles.
In an exclusive interview with the Gulf Times, R-Truth revealed his story - one of struggle with injuries in his 17-year-long career and his determination to never give up.
How does R-Truth define himself? “That’s a hard question. Music just lives in me. It’s food for the soul. Wrestling is will (power) man, part of me just got bit by that bug when I first saw it. First, I had a desire to train; to want to do it. Once I learnt (it), that was it. So it’s just a combination of both,” he said.
R-Truth, said his father, a musician, was a big inspiration early on. “My father had absolutely no idea, no inclination at all that I would become a wrestler (one day). He thought I would become a musician. He loved my guitar and singing.”
Later, R-Truth would find that wrestling, too, was part of his true calling. “Mike Tyson, George Foreman... there are a lot of great people from my own time who inspired me, whom I’ve learnt from, just by watching and studying them,” he said.
R-Truth is now 41 years old, 17 of which have been spent fighting in the ring. When he recounts his list of injuries suffered over the year, it sounds like someone has survived a massive train crash.
“I’ve had quite a bit of injuries. I’ve had a knee surgery. I’ve had broken ribs, three at a time. I have had both shoulders dislocated. I’ve had a cracked sternum and a dislocated hip. I broke my foot, just below my knee, about six-eight weeks ago,” he recalled.
But he added, smiling: “Injuries are part of our job. That’s expected. We try to prevent it as much as possible. So, I think a guy can go on as long as he allows his body to go.”
How much more does R-Truth want his body to take? “As long as I am able to. I’m not done yet. I’m not the WWE champion yet. That’s my main goal,” he said.
Stressing that the job of a professional wrestler was very demanding, he said one needed adequate rest to survive. “You have to be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for this. There’s a lot of traveling involved. At times, we are on the road for 280 days a year. There is no off-season like in other sports.”
R-Truth revealed that he worked out every day, no matter which part of the world he was in. “No less than two hours at the gym is my routine,” he added.
The WWE superstar doesn’t have any special diet, just “a lot of commitment in the gym”. He also ensures that he takes the proper vitamins.
A father of two sons and as many daughters, R-Truth feels settling down as a professional wrestler and starting a family at the same time are not too hard to do if one knows how to maintain a balance between the two. “Sometimes I’m home three or four days a week, sometimes less than that. I think the family has just got used to it or they love me so much that they put up with it.”
There was a time when Killings was known as “K Malik Shahbaaz”, just like he is known as R-Truth today. The pseudonym given to him is a name commonly found in the subcontinent, especially in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
When asked how he managed to get such a pseudonym, R-Truth said laughing that the names are given by the companies they work with. “Back then, the company I was working for saw me, liked me and were like ‘ahh, you look like this great Muslim guy.
“They said we have a great name for you: K Malik Shahbaaz. And I was like, ah…OK! I’m K Malik Shahbaaz then.”
He said he didn’t even ask what it meant and just went with it.
R-Truth said every time he comes to Qatar, he is overwhelmed by the love and joy with which people receive him. “Doha has one of the greatest fans that one can think of.”
For all the people who looked up to him as a role model, R-Truth gave three advices: “One: listen to your parents, two: education, three: set your goals, set your dreams and try your best to achieve them coz they do come true.”
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