Kolkata, July 9 (IANS) World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Alberto Del Rio says he is rooting for Portugal in the ongoing Euro football championship as Cristiano Ronaldo is the driving force behind the team.
The four-time world heavy-weight champion was initially supporting Spain but then the defending champions crashed out in the round of 16, losing to Italy 0-2.
“I was supporting Spain but unfortunately they did not do too well in this tournament. Now that they are out of the competition I am supporting Portugal for Ronaldo. I am a big supporter of Real Madrid and he is our most important player, so I am rooting for Portugal,” Del Rio told IANS in an interview while on a visit to the city.
The 39-year-old six-foot-five-inch Mexican wrestler is a ‘Money in the Bank’ contract winner and has also clinched the prestigious Royal Rumble in 2011. He is the only WWE fighter to win both high-voltage events in a calendar year.
Asked what was closer to his heart, winning the Royal Rumble or the first heavyweight title, Del Rio said: “These are two different things. Winning the Royal Rumble was one of the greatest moments of my career. That is the moment which put me out there and showed the world that Alberto Del Rio was a legit competitor.”
“But winning the first major title or becoming world champion (January 2013) was a really special night because it was in Los Angeles and there’s a big Latin or Mexican community there. A lot of people told me they felt really happy that night and my family was also present. So it is difficult to pick one.”
His advice to upcoming Indian wrestlers was simple. The superstar believes there are no short cuts to success and one needs to sacrifice a lot to climb to the top.
“They (Indian wrestlers) need to work hard and there are no secrets in achieving your goals, to succeed in life or in WWE. You have to work hard and be willing to make the sacrifices this career will demand,” said the former Mixed Martial Arts fighter.
“I am now in one of the most prestigious companies of the world because I made those sacrifices. I have been working really hard from as far back as I can remember to get here.”
Though much of the storyline is scripted in the WWE, Del Rio said the risks involved are real and the moves are not choreographed.
“For me it is completely real. The only thing which is scripted is the story line, like the fight between the good guy and the bad guy. But everything I do in the ring is real, I am a legit athlete, a legit wrestler, I was part of national team and took part in many fights over the years,” Del Rio said.
“For me all these have been real, it is not choreography. WWE in not one of them (choreographed), we have had some exceptional perfomers like Rey Mysterio, Big Show or me. We just go out and we wrestle. The risks are all real.”
Del Rio also said if not wrestling he would have surely made a career in architecture.
“I am also an architect. I would have had to fall back on that career if WWE did not work out. It has been a great career and I am fortunate enough to have a good living from wrestling,” he said.
He has also had a long-running feud with another WWE star, John Cena, and Del Rio believed the American wrestler is one of the best.
“John Cena is one of the best performers, one of the best wrestlers out there. Sometimes people don’t give John the credit he deserves. He is one of the best in wrestling history. I always had a lot of fun when I was in the ring with him. The fans enjoy seeing us,” he remarked.
Speaking about Indian WWE athlete ‘Khali’, Del Rio added: “We were never friends. I hope he is doing well. He has a wrestling school in India and I hope he helps all the Indian talent to maybe one day join WWE. But I don’t have plans to visit him.”
(Debdoot Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> )