Superstars and Divas' bodybuilding pasts
Being in prime physical condition is a requirement for any Superstar or Diva mixing it up in the squared circle. But several competitors have also showcased their amazing physiques on the bodybuilding stage. In addition to WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn, see who else had the drive and focus to get in phenomenal physical shape.
Bodybuilding claim to fame: Teenage Mr. New Hampshire 1988
It can be said that the man who would one day become The King of Kings built the very foundations of The Game on an incredible passion for bodybuilding. For Triple H truly began his journey to the squared circle with an early interest in the sculpting arts in his teen years.
The determined competitor would go on to participate in several formal competitions, getting his first taste of championship gold when he was crowned “Teenage Mr. New Hampshire” in 1988.
Soon after, Triple H would leave bodybuilding to pursue a career as the ring’s resident “Ass Kicker.” But, the 13-time World Champion has never forgotten his bodybuilding roots, continuing to hit the gym religiously and being featured in several health and fitness magazines. The Game has even penned a number of publications on weight training and overall fitness, including the popular bodybuilding bible, “Making the Game.”
WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn
Bodybuilding claim to fame: Arnold Classic Figure Championship (top five placing)
WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn got an early start in the world of bodybuilding, beginning her training at 18.
“I did really well in several NPC shows in Texas,” the Divas Champion said. “The first show I ever did, I trained all on my own and didn’t have a nutritionist or a trainer. I just loved bodybuilding and fitness ever since I was a kid. I placed 10th out of 20, which is pretty good for doing everything on my own at 18.
One year later, she came back and won the same show.
However, Kaitlyn’s favorite moment was competing in the Arnold Classic figure division at the amateur level. “I was the youngest competitor on stage,” she said. “Even though I didn’t win the show, I placed top five. Just being in the top five in the Arnold Classic — a huge international show that I was invited to — was such cool moment for me.”
Recalling the rigors of bodybuilding competition, Kaitlyn revealed her secret to success.
“A lot of people say the diet is the hardest thing. But once you commit to doing it, the diet just becomes routine. The hardest thing is staying mentally focused. Once you accept this [diet and cardio] is what you have to do, it’s easy. The second that you get out of the right mindset, it screws everything up.”
Certainly, Kaitlyn has figured out the key to success in WWE as well.
WWE Champion John Cena
Bodybuilding claim to fame: Yankee Classic (overall winner)
Before becoming an 11-time WWE Champion, John Cena seized the spotlight as a bodybuilder, competing from the ages of 18 to 22 in the Yankee Classic in Massachusetts, as well as the Natural Iron Man and Natural Santa Monica Classic in California.
“[Bodybuilding] really wasn’t for me,” admitted Cena. “However, it kept me disciplined. It kept my nutrition regimented. That’s what I take away from it. It got me used to regimenting my nutrition to eat for performance.”
But, even among the many difficulties that sculpting one’s body can present, the dietary regiment can be extremely challenging, especially for a competitor who enjoys his meals.
Luckily for the WWE Universe, Cena soon found another way to stand out as a strength and performance athlete.
WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas
Bodybuilding claim to fame: Three-time Mr. USA
WWE Hall of Famer Tony Atlas was a powerful foe to any adversary in the ring, using his massive strength to become a decorated athlete. This included capturing the WWE World Tag Team Titles alongside fellow Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, becoming the first African-American tandem to do so.
Check out exclusive Tony Atlas photos
But while he was ripping up the WWE Universe, Atlas was also a ripped bodybuilder — competing from 1972-1985 and powerlifting all the way up to 1998. His biggest accolades included contending for the prestigious title of “Mr. Universe” and winning the “Mr. USA” competition three times!
“My favorite memories from that life,” remembered Atlas, “was the enormous recognition that wrestling provided me with during those competitions.
“Fans wanted to know more about my physical appearance and would follow me there,” he continued. “And every competition I won was important for me because it kept me in the mainstream and credible. That would push me to raise the bar for the next time.”
The Great Khali
Bodybuilding claim to fame: 1997 and 1998 Mr. India
Before trouncing opponents in WWE, The Great Khali competed for four years in bodybuilding in India.
Khali recalls one of his first competitions in 1995 as being one of his favorite memories. At a height of 7'1,” he was much taller than all other competitors. As a member of Punjab Police at the time, some of his skeptical colleagues were at the show. However, when they saw him compete on stage, they finally acknowledged his potential to be a successful bodybuilder.
The Punjabi Giant went on to win the 1997 and 1998 Mr. India competitions.
It wasn’t long before WWE realized Khali’s great potential, too.
Bodybuilding claim to fame: 1964 Mr. Universe
Earl Maynard’s career stands as a shining example of a man of many talents. At the same time that he was competing in the ring – alongside the likes of The Rock’s father, WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson – he was also starting a film acting career and amassing a stunning array of bodybuilding honors.
The most prominent among them was the coveted Universe Title in 1964. The prestigious accolade helped earn Maynard the squared circle moniker, "Mr. Universe."