Shock waves were sent across the wrestling world when World Wrestling Entertainment star Kofi Kingston was crowned world champion at Wrestlemania 35 this past weekend. It was the crowning achievement for the 11-year veteran, who became the first African-born performer to be named WWE champion. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the only other black man to hold the coveted title previously.
While professional wrestling is scripted, Kingston’s run for the title captured the hearts of wrestling fans and non-fans alike. Here are five things to know about Kingston and his journey to the top of the wrestling mountain top.
He Immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana
Kingston, whose real name is Kofi Nahaje Sarkodie-Mensah, was born in the city of Kumasi inside Ghana’s Ashanti region. When he was 2 years old, he moved with his parents to the United States. The family bounced around a few places, including Pennsylvania and Louisiana, before settling in Winchester, Massachusetts.
Kingston excelled as an amateur wrestler at Winchester High School, where he was the team captain. Coached by local wrestling legend Larry Tremblay, Kingston was a sectional champion at 130 pounds. He was also a state finalist and placed fourth at the All-State championships. He would go on to graduate from Boston College with a business degree in 2003.