WWE: The 100mph, 17-year journey that took Ali from wrestling to the police and back again

The latest name to make it on Smackdown Live speaks to The Independent about how he nearly gave up on his dream of reaching the WWE

Matty Paddock@MattyPaddock
Sunday 12 May 2019 12:15
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WWE superstar Ali nearly gave up on his dream when he became a police officer
WWE superstar Ali nearly gave up on his dream when he became a police officer

Professional wrestling is no stranger to larger-than-life stories, but few can compare to that of young WWE star Ali, who is currently on his first UK tour with the company.

Real name Adeel Alam, the starlet is one of the fastest rising stars in sports entertainment's biggest company. He's joined the likes of Roman Reigns and AJ Styles as part of their UK & Europe tour that includes two nights of television in London early next week.

That in itself is enough of a story, but it does little to chronicle the journey of the 33-year-old who is making quite the home for himself as part of the company's Smackdown Live roster.

At such a relatively young age, it seems almost unthinkable that the father of two is already 17 years into what is a second career - having woven his passion for professional wrestling into a spell as a police officer in the United States, wrestling in his spare time to try and make a name for himself.

The Independent spoke exclusively to the high-flyer, who talked candidly about the challenges of grappling the two demanding jobs - admitting he'd opted to join the police with the fear he'd never be able to make it as a wrestler.

After four years in uniform in his hometown of Chicago, however, he finally managed to crack the big time after being signed to a permanent WWE contract.

"Wrestling was a lifelong dream," said Ali, an articulate and engaging talent. "I started when I was 16 years old and it has been a 17-year journey to get where I'm at now.

"I'd always had the dream that when I closed my eyes, I could see myself vividly, wrestling on pay per views and doing media calls like this.

"But when I opened my eyes, I didn't see it and reality would set in - money, a house, a sick family member; real life stuff would get in the way.

"I would always chase this dream on the side and, eventually, I thought this dream wasn't going to happen and it was kind of one foot in, and one foot out with it.

Ali finally got his second chance with his WWE breakthrough

"An opportunity came up to be a police officer - I had a friend who was an independent wrestler and a cop, and he was telling me how much he loved the job and how meaningful he found his work.

"I was at the stage where I felt like law enforcement would be meaningful work - you could actually do something and change somebody's life.

"That was it - I went into it with the intention of making it my career and retiring at whatever [age] and having a full law enforcement career. But, for some reason, I couldn't let go of wrestling.

"While I was a police officer, I'd do independent wrestling shows on the side. That was a crazy schedule."

Ali found himself rushing from independent shows to his police officer shifts

Ali is, if anything, downplaying his workload.

The role of a police officer is, in the best of circumstances, a trying and challenging career in itself, without the sheer madness of throwing yourself around a ring in a bid to reach stardom in the wacky yet ridiculously-competitive world of professional wrestling.

It's little wonder, then, that Ali continually cut things fine - using every last minute to shift between wrestling matches and duty on the police roster.

His torment over whether his dream of becoming a wrestler would truly be realised also lasted until the last possible moment.

Ali finally won himself a a permanent professional contract to join the WWE

"It wasn't until the official offer came from WWE that I resigned," he went on to say.

"I was working as a cop the entire time I was doing the Cruiserweight Classic and the NXT stuff, and, on the side, I was doing independent wrestling shows!

"I'd do a show at 9pm, jump in my car and race to the police station to make it for 11pm for when my shift started.

"I always showed up for the roll call with a minute to spare and I'd be sweaty and have a black eye, and guys were like 'what is wrong with this kid?!'

"I left the law enforcement career behind, but my last day at work was a Friday, and the following week I came to TV on the Monday to start [with WWE.]

Ali is already making a name for himself in the WWE

"I worked all the way up to when my contract started and left nothing to chance.

"Somehow I held on to the dream and, in the end, I'd say it all worked out."

Ali joins the likes of Kofi Kingston, Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns on the WWE live tour of the UK. To find a show and venue near you, visit wwe.com.

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