If you’ve ever seen World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) World Heavyweight Champion David Bautista (better known as Batista) in action, you know why he earned the nickname “The Animal.” WWE has had famous big men, but none like Batista—combining speed, agility, energy, power and a massive chiseled physique all in one.
A truly unique individual, Batista’s life has been equally remarkable, rising from humble roots and dealing with many obstacles before rising to the top and becoming the face of WWE, loved and respected by millions around the world.
Batista grew up in the Washington, D.C. area making his living as a bouncer. While his original dream was to become a bodybuilder, no matter how massive he became, his height (6 feet, 6 inches) made him look less developed than most and eventually he gave up that dream.
He got into wrestling after meeting WWE legends Road Warrior “Animal” and “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig at a body building show in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He learned the basics of the business from Arthur “Afa” Anoa’i at the Wild Samoan Training Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and debuted as “Kahn” in World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW). He remained with WXW for seven months before heading to Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE’s training ground for up and coming superstars. During that time, he battled future WWE superstars such as Kane, The Big Show, Randy Orton, John Cena and the The Undertaker.
Finally, on May 9, 2002, Batista made his debut with WWE, and since then, his career has gained momentum, and now he finds himself atop the heap. Now, Batista is prepping for his next big match, WrestleMania XXIV on March 30, 2008, live at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Make sure to catch Batista and The Road to WrestleMania XXIV beginning January 27, 2008 at the Royal Rumble live on Pay-Per-View from Madison Square Garden.
You’ve mentioned you had it rough growing up. What kind of stuff did you have to deal with as a kid?
Growing up in D.C., it wasn’t bad back then as it is now. Me and my sister were the only kids in the neighborhood who weren’t Black, so we were kind of out of place to begin with. My sister also had a big mouth, so I was constantly fighting for her and sticking up for her. We also witnessed a lot of poverty and violence. There were a lot of times when we couldn’t even afford to eat. My mom would make us one meal that had to last us all week. There’s one story I tell in my book, where she made this big pot of Navy bean soup—it was supposed to last all week—and she burned the crap out of it, but it was all we had to eat, so we ate burned bean soup the whole week. It’s a story I always tell my kids because they’ve been kind of spoiled, but I want them to know that they come from humble roots and not to ever let anything go to their heads or take anything for granted.
Growing up, who was your favorite professional wrestler, and why?
Most guys say Hulk Hogan or the Macho Man…Ric Flair. But my favorite growing up was The Warlord ’cause he was so massive; he was the most massive human being I had ever seen. That’s kind of why I watched when I was a kid; I liked to see all the big muscle guys, but The Warlord was my favorite.
What inspired you to pursue professional wrestling as a career?
Honestly, when I first got into pro-wrestling it was just to make a buck. I had been bouncing for 10 years and had nothing to show for it. I kind of stumbled into wrestling. My first trial, I failed miserably and they told me I’d never be a pro-wrestler, which, for about a day, it broke my heart; then it just pissed me off. So, it became a challenge, then passion, an obsession. I was just so driven.