WWE WRESTLING - How Kofi went from office worker to ring champ

SEVERAL years ago Kofi Kingston had a secure office job and a career path mapped out.

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n WWE star Kofi Kingston left  his office job to pursue a career in wrestling -- he's not looked back since
n WWE star Kofi Kingston left his office job to pursue a career in wrestling -- he's not looked back since

But he wanted to follow a different direction – and swapped desks and computers for drop kicks and clotheslines.

Now Kofi's a star with World Wrestling Entertainment, the biggest wrestling company on the planet, and heading to the Braehead Arena on Thursday night for the Wrestlemania Revenge tour.

Yet it was a big decision for Kofi to make that leap.

"It's always a gamble but in my mind I was very confident and I think you have to be of that mind-set," he says.

"There are no guarantees and I walked out of a secure, salaried job, which is a big risk for anybody.

"On top of that, not everybody makes it, and going back to old photos [of his early days in WWE there are always people who have come and gone so it's a tough business. But if you have a dream you need to follow it."

The acrobatic Kofi has certainly managed to make it. His athletic, high-flying style has made him a popular figure among WWE fans, and he's lifted several of the company's titles during his time there.

Although wrestling (or sports entertainment, as the WWE refer to themselves) has predetermined matches, it still requires athletic ability, as well as a grasp of performing before large crowds. For Kofi, he always had that ability in spades.

"Growing up I was in a few different plays and I was the captain of my high school wrestling team so I am used to being a leader and performer," he explains.

"I was even in a step team [a form of percussive dance] so I've always been one to enjoy the limelight. I always try to put myself in the crowd's shoes and think 'what would I want to come away from the arena with? What would get me talking to all my friends?'"

Born in Ghana, Kofi's parents moved to America when he was a young child, and while growing up he became a wrestling fan.

After debuting in 2006, he was snapped up by the WWE and eventually brought to their main roster in 2007, where he has been a mainstay ever since, always playing the role of a good guy.

But the cheerful star admits he wouldn't mind turning to the dark side if the company's storylines demanded it.

"Everybody on Twitter seems to want me to turn bad," he laughs.

"I would try my hand at anything and I think I could do it well."

Whether he was portraying a hero or a villain, Kofi is quick to stress his duties outside the ring, being involved in various charitable activities.

"There are so many things we do outside of the ring," he says.

"We do a lot of work in schools on anti-bullying through our 'Be A Star' campaign where we try to teach kids tolerance and respect, and if we reach one or two kids then we've made a difference.

"By default WWE Superstars are role models."

When it comes to matters inside the ring, however, Kofi hasn't had the best luck recently.

He didn't appear at the company's biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania, which took place before more than 70,000 people in New York at the start of April.

Various past grappling greats like Brock Lesnar and the Rock, now better known for his acting work, took the top matches on the card. However Kofi insists there's no annoyance at the company's part-time veterans being at the top.

"The Rock and Brock Lesnar have really paved the way for guys like me," he adds.

"Maybe somewhere down the line we can be the ones coming back for the big appearances and there is certainly a desire for young talent to come through to high profile matches. I'm sure you'll see that in the coming years."

There's one wrestler from the older generation that Kofi would love to see return, though – the self-styled Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels, who retired three years ago.

As Michaels was a hero of Kofi's, he'd love to work with him.

"Shawn Michaels would be my dream opponent because in my mind he's the greatest of all time," he says.

"I've never seen him have a bad match so to be there in the ring with Shawn would be amazing. He is one of the biggest reasons for me getting into the WWE."

For now though, he's just hoping to bring his Boom Drop move to Glasgow.

"We come to the UK twice a year and everybody is always fired up to see us," he adds.

"This is one of the tours we look forward to the most as the environment and culture are both very different to the USA. We often hear some pretty unique football chants at the Scottish shows."

n WWE, Braehead Arena, Thursday, £30-£60, 7pm.

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