American Icon: John Cena
“To succeed, I have to believe every night in my heart that I’m the best”. This is one of the most powerful quotes by the legendary John Cena. True to his words, he has believed and risen to become one of the best professional wrestlers in the history of the United States.
Cena is undoubtedly one of the most adored American celebrities of the 21st century. His wit, charisma and passion for children has made him a darling to many- both young and old. He is a professional wrestler, actor, media personality and rapper. Currently, he is signed at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) where he is a free agent who appears for both Raw and SmackDown wrestling brands.
CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION
John Cena was born on April 23, 1977 in West Newbury, Massachussetts, to Carol and John Cena Sr. He has an older brother named Dan and three younger brothers named Matt, Steve, and Sean. His maternal grandfather was baseball player Tony Lupien. Cena is of English, French-Canadian, and Italian descent. He originally attended Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, before transferring to Cushing Academy, a private prep boarding school. After graduating from Cushing Academy, he attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. In college, he became a member of the football team wearing the number 54, which is still used on some of his WWE merchandise. He graduated from college in 1998 with a degree in exercise physiology and body movement after which he pursued a career in bodybuilding and worked as a driver for a limousine company.
RISE TO STARDOM
Cena started his professional wrestling career in 1999 with Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) and won the UPW Heavyweight Championship the following year. He signed a developmental contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) (in 2011 renamed World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) debuting on the WWE main roster in 2002. From a generic character in 2002, he morphed into a rapper for the time period of 2002–2004, which earned him fame within the SmackDown audience. He later transitioned to his current character, which he describes as a "goody-two shoes Superman". Cena has been labeled the “most polarizing professional wrestler ever” by some commentators, supporters and detractors. For much of the last 18 years, he has served as the WWE public face and franchise player. Renowned industry veterans such as Kurt Angle and Paul Heyman have called Cena the greatest WWE star of all time.
Throughout his WWE career, Cena has won 25 championships, with 16 reigns as a world champion- 13 times as WWE Champion and three times as WWE's World Heavyweight Champion,an accomplishment only previously achieved by Ric Flair, a now retired professional wrestler. He is also a five-time United States Champion and a four-time world tag team champion. Cena has the fourth-highest number of combined days as WWE Champion. He has also headlined WWE's flagship event WrestleMania on five different occasions over the course of his career, as well as many other pay-per-view events.
Outside of wrestling, Cena released the 2005 rap album You Can't See Me, which debuted at No. 15 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. In 2006, Cena began an acting career in feature films with his first role being in The Marine. He went on star and appear in other films such as 12 Rounds, The Reunion, Legendary , Sisters, Trainwreck , and Daddy's Home . He has also made several appearances on television shows including Manhunt, Parks and Recreation, Saturday night Live, and MADtv, Cena is the host of American Grit, a military inspired competition that airs on Fox. He is involved in numerous philanthropic causes, most notably with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that targets children with life threatening illnesses. The organization arranges experiences described as ‘wishes’ to eligible children between the ages of 3 and 17. Cena holds the title for the most wishes granted by a single individual, with over 500 wishes.
From late 2011 until WrestleMania XXVIII, Cena wore a black "Rise Above Hate" T-shirt promoting WWE's "Be a Star" anti-bullying campaign. In September and October 2012, Cena wore pink and black with the phrase "Rise above Cancer" in partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In November 2016 Cena appeared in a public service announcement, "We Are America" as part of its "Love Has No Labels", a campaign that encourages people to examine and challenge their own implicit bias.
In his own unique way, Cena has made a difference in today’s American society. While some celebrities choose to focus on themselves, Cena has chosen to identify the needs of the people around him and make possible what he can. He has become a living legend in the professional wrestling industry and used his fame as an opportunity to help other people. For his kind heart, tender spirit, and pursuit to make the world a better place, American Sunglass would like to call him an ICON!