When one talks of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s name is bound to pop up during the conversation. It would be safe to say that he’s the Hulk Hogan of our generation. Johnson’s enormous popularity extends far beyond the wrestling world, with the California native having become one of Hollywood’s most successful superstars, and widely popular across the world.
All that popularity hasn’t diminished his humility though; The Rock is one of the nicest celebrities around, always happy to oblige his fans with selfies or autographs. One thing that has always intrigued people is Dwayne Johnson’s ethnicity, with the wrestler possessing a mixed heritage.
Johnson was born into a family of wrestlers, with his grandfather, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, a well-known wrestler. His father, Rocky Johnson, created history by becoming the first black wrestler to win the WWF Tag Team Championship, along with partner Tony Atlas.
Johnson briefly lived in New Zealand with his mother’s family, before returning to the United States to finish his schooling, at the President William McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. A multi-talented athlete, Johnson was part of his school’s track, football and wrestling teams.
He was an exceptionally talented footballer and even won a full scholarship from the University of Miami, where he was a part of the national championship team of 1991. However, he always knew his future lay in wrestling, and he eventually made his WWF bow in 1996, under the name Rocky Maivia.
Johnson’s original character proved to be unpopular due to his colourful choice of clothing and ridiculously clean-cut image. That prompted the top brass at WWF to transform him into the funky, incredibly charming, highly talented, crowd-pleasing and loud-mouthed wonder – The Rock!
Johnson’s family boasts of a rich, multi-cultural heritage. Johnson’s mother is Samoan, while his father is of Black Nova Scotian heritage. That makes him a descendant of the African-Americans who left the United States along with the British after the end of the American Revolution, having chosen to side with their captors.
He also has some Irish ancestry, from his father’s side of the family. Johnson’s paternal grandparents, James and Lilian Bowles, were both of African origin, while his maternal grandparents, Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia and Ofelia “Lia” Fuataga, were Samoan, and had a rich wrestling history. So it seems Johnson inherited his incredible wrestling talent from both sides of his family.
Johnson’s distinguished family heritage and strong genes have helped him become a master at whatever trade he takes up. From performing extraordinary feats in the ring, to giving the bad guys nightmares in the Fast & Furious franchise, The Rock has done it all.
Johnson’s incredible story is narrated by the man himself in his 2000 autobiography, The Rock Says..., which debuted at Number 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List and stood strong for several weeks.
Wherever his origins lie, this man has repeatedly wowed us with his talent and created a permanent niche for himself in our hearts. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that we’ve been caught between a Rock and a wonderful place ever since 1996.Published 11 Sep 2015, 18:16 IST