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How Frequent Migration and Bullying Shaped Up the Legend of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Image: The Rock/Instagram

Image: The Rock/Instagram

On Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's 47th birthday, we take a look at how a WWE superstar became a formidable box office success.

Devasheesh Pandey
  • Last Updated: May 2, 2019, 9:05 AM IST
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Dwayne Johnson was 'cooking up' entertainment aplenty inside the wrestling ring before he stepped up in front of the camera and became one of the biggest celebrities of his time. Even in WWE, The Rock was not just a resilient, bulked-up wrestler, he was the eyebrow-raising, trash-talking, adrenaline-pumping, integrity-raising people's champ, a character who not only had strength, but values, which in turn made him universally likable.

If you need any kind of a testimony to his global stardom, go chance upon his Instagram account. Apart from his 140 million+ strong followers, his comments feed is flooded with appreciation and admiration for the person that he is, someone whose success feels real and his method simple but effective--hard work, dedication and some more of the same.

Much of Johnson's life is out of the spotlight, but if one digs enough there are a few known things that made him the icon that he is today.

A Bullied-Child-turned-Saviour

Johnson is a self-confessed victim of bullying in school. Born to a black father from Canada, named Rocky, and mother of Samoan descent, Johnson has revealed that he was often targetted during school years, since he moved around a lot and was always the 'new-kid.'

In an interview in 2016, Johnson said, "I was always the new kid so that made me a target. We moved so much that we lived in fourteen different states because my dad was on the road which was unsettling and disorientating. I used to get into a lot of fights. I wouldn’t start them, but you know when you’re the new kid."

It's only natural for him to play a saviour in films. With his imposing figure he keeps no second thoughts about the bad-guys.

View this post on Instagram

My nightmare aka my very first TV "appearance" when I was 11yrs old. At a WWE TV taping in Allentown, PA. Since my dad was always on the road wrestling, any father/son time we got in was great, so I was super pumped to travel with him. It was backstage that I'd meet a man who years later we'd enjoy tremendous success together and he'd become one of my strongest mentors in business - Vince McMahon. I'll never forget he shook my hand, looked down at me and said "We gotta get you on camera tonight young man!". I thought, "WHOA I'm gonna be on TV... can't wait to tell my friends... AWESOME!". So I'm sitting there in the crowd, the camera man comes over and tells me he's getting ready to shoot so be ready.. It was in that defining moment that I just realized something awful... I was just getting over a bad case of Chicken Pox (you can clearly see a few "post pox" on my face) and I thought "Holy sh*t this is terrible! The world will see me for the first time and I look like someone set fire to my face and stomped it out with cleats". Looking back at this gem of a picture, there's two things I've learned: Things are never as bad as they seem (especially at 11yrs old) and instead of worrying about my Chicken Pox I should've been concerned with the world questioning whether I was a boy or a girl. Which, for the record happened all the time to me when I was a kid. #PrePubertyWasABitch #StopWorryingSweatheart #GetYourLittleAssInTheGym #TBT

A post shared by therock (@therock) on

Footballer Turned Wrestler

Johnson is a graduate from the University of Miami, with a Bachelor of General Studies with concentrations in criminology and physiology. He graduated in 1995. In fact, he received a full scholarship from the University, where he also played football as a defensive tackle.

After graduation, Johnson moved to Canada, his father's native place, where he received an offer for wrestling. He sacrificed his spot at a Canadian football team to pursue his dream of wrestling, which was also his family's profession.

Inside the Ring, The Rock Becomes a Legend

After leaving football, Johnson emerged as Rocky Maivia and made it to the WWE in 1996 where he transformed into The Rock. His flair and charisma made audiences go wild, as he won the world championship eight times in his career.

Inside the ring, Johnson was a villain-turned-anti-hero, and by the time he semi-retired, he had become the biggest superstar in televised history. His theatrics were enough to get people rallying behind him as he jumped around the ring elbowing the opponent, with the crowd always in his favour.

Saturday Night Live Appearance

Charmed by his in-ring persona and showmanship, Johnson was approached to host the prestigious late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live. He first appeared on it in 2000 and later became part of the Five-Timers Club, alongside the likes of Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin, after being asked to host the comedy show five times.

It was here that he catapulted to universal fame, courtesy his entertaining ways and goofed-up-fast-talking act.

Hollywood Success

Johnson first starred opposite Brendan Fraser in The Mummy Returns (2001) and was so well-received that the studio made him the star of the prequel, The Scorpion King, the following year. Successful films like The Other Guys, The Game Plan, Ballers and the Fast & Furious franchise brought him to the stage where he is now, the most bankable star in the industry, someone who is universally liked.

According to Forbes, Johnson made USD 124 million between 2017 and 2018, which puts him on the top of the billing list of actors. In the latest feat, Johnson has also made it to the TIME 100 Most Influential List, and that's all just a start.

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