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Wrestler goes from paper cuts to pile drivers

WANT TO GO?

WWE Presents RAW World Tour 2013

WHERE: Charleston Civic Center

WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: $15, $25, $35, $50 and $95

INFO: 800-745-3000 or www.ticketmaster.comCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Part of what makes the WWE different from almost every other form of big league entertainment is that the performers can come from almost anywhere.

For example, would you believe that reigning U.S. Champion Kofi Kingston used to have a desk job selling office supplies? Almost 10 year ago, the then-recent Boston College graduate took a job at the corporate headquarters of office supply giant Staples.

"I worked at the corporate offices in Massachusetts," said Kingston, who headlines this Sunday when WWE presents RAW World Tour 2013 at the Charleston Civic Center.

"I was responsible for the buyer's catalogs. They're like 800 pages. You probably get them at your office in the mail and throw them away, but those catalogs were my life."

Far from a day spent throwing opponents around a ring, the six-foot, 212-pound future Superstar had to worry about all the mind-numbing, little details, like where the picture of each product went on each page.

Kingston groaned, "I had to think about whether they were too close to the middle of the book or if they needed to be on the outside. I had to worry about chairs and pushpins and paperclips ...

"It was awful for me."

Kingston said that working in a cubicle and a desk might be fine for some people, but they weren't so good for him.

"I remember walking into my cubicle,' he said. "I remember taking a breath and thinking, 'Oh, my God. I can't believe this is the rest of my life.' "

Lucky for him, it wasn't. Kingston eventually gave up a life that sounded suspiciously like a story on NBC's "The Office," went into training to become a professional wrestler and joined a well-known wrestling school called Chaotic Wrestling, where he learned the skills he needed to become what he is today: a 10-time world champion.

Still Kingston supposed he'd been on the path to becoming a WWE Superstar his whole life. He just didn't know it.

"We're a very different breed," he said. "A different kettle of fish. We're guys who definitely want to be the best."

But to be the best, it helps to have right material to work with -- a body capable of flinging itself off the top rope and sustaining quite a bit of trauma crashing into other bodies being flung around.

Kingston said he was a former student athlete who'd wrestled and played football and kept in shape after college. In high school and college, he'd taken part in school plays, the high school band and was even in a step dance group in college.

 "These are all forms entertainment, and you have to be a performer and very entertaining to be in the WWE," he said. "We definitely wear a lot of different hats. We're definitely more than wrestlers."

Kingston said the moment he started training with Chaotic Wrestling he knew that was what he was supposed to do.

And training, he said, is not optional. It's absolutely necessary.

Some of Kingston's best known moves, including his Trouble in Paradise finishing move, are inspired by things he saw in martial arts movies like "Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles II," the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers TV show and even Japanese cartoons.

"But make no mistake about it, I trained really hard and learned how to do it the right way," he added.

Which is why Kingston can do things like Trouble in Paradise -- a jumping roundhouse corkscrew kick -- and not end up in traction (probably) but that people at home might not be so lucky.

"That's why we tell everyone: don't do what we do at home."

Still, Kingston believes there are other moves people could learn from him. They could try believing in themselves a bit more.

"I tell people that if they have a dream and they don't follow it, it will definitely not come true."

The WWE Superstar figured the worst that could happen if you try and fail is you end up where you are now.

He added, "But the best that could happen is it could come true: you live out your dreams, meet cool people and travel all over the world, having a good time."

At least, that's what he's doing instead of hunting for his stapler.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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