WWE star John Cena, who was the recipient of this year’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for Excellence, recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about receiving the prestigious award and his career in and out of a WWE ring.
During the interview, Cena spoke about his character in WWE, and made note of using his real name in the ring as a means to blend the character aspect of John Cena with the real man. “It’s very much John Cena the character hoping, over the course of 30 minutes to an hour, to let them know John Cena the person,” he says of time with kids, “and to know they’re not too far apart—that me and the guy in the ball cap are the same.”
The SI piece also focuses on Cena’s philanthropic work outside of a WWE ring, which includes granting over 500 wishes for the Make-A-Wish foundation, and Cena revealed he often times works requests from Make-A-Wish kids into his WWE matches. “It’s the ability of Babe Ruth to call his shot, all the time,” Cena says. When things don’t go as the kids had hoped, that too offers an opportunity. “I go and see them after I lose,” says Cena, “and that’s a great message to send: Hey, don’t worry, I promise you—I promise you—I will get up and be able to keep going. I’ve seen kids break down and cry, and then in a split second turn their emotions to say, ‘Right on, I believe you.'”
Many fans have questioned John Cena’s future in WWE considering his Hollywood career has taken serious flight in the past couple years, with his new movie Bumblebee set to open this month, and Project X, a new movie co-starring Jackie Chan, recently completed in China.
During the SI interview, Cena admitted he is in the “twilight” of his career in WWE, and although he has no plans to quit altogether, he added, “it’s a giant relay race, and I’m in the phase where I’m handing the stick off,” he says. “My time is up,” he adds, riffing on the lyrics to his WWE entrance theme. “Someone else’s time is now.”