Kofi Kingston recently spoke to USA Today about the importance of on-screen representation for people of color. Below are some highlights of what he had to say.
Kofi on the stagnate nature of his matches before The New Day:
“I never had a doubt about the group. I always knew that once we were able to get ourselves onto television, out chemistry would excel. And Vince [McMahon] kind of put that to the test when he gave us the gimmick of being three gospel preachers on an international platform.
But even before that, I was at a point where like… it was very boring for me. I knew what kind of match I was going to have. I was probably going to come in with high-flying, cool moves, get everyone to cheer for me, and then I’d probably end up losing the match. And that pattern became just monotonous over a couple years. And then I was at the point where I’m not having fun, really, at work anymore. I feel like in any job, if you’re not enjoying yourself, then you should probably get a different job, you know? Find something else to do. Luckily, I was approached by E and Woods, and they came to me with the idea of this group, and like I said, I was at the point where I wanted to do something different. The more we started to hang out, the more chemistry we realized that we had. I just knew that we were going to be successful as long as we were given an opportunity.”
Kofi on the moment with his sons in the ring at WrestleMania:
“Well, its funny because we don’t really have our kids watch a whole lot of TV, so needless to say the only time they really get to see WWE is when they come and see me wrestle…. Oh, my son is saying when they go away, when they go to hotels he gets to watch TV.
But it’s one of those things – they didn’t really have any idea of like the storyline or any of the struggles that I went through to get there. They’re just happy to be there. I think it’s the coolest thing that one day they’re going to look back and realize what they were in the middle of, how big that moment actually was. As big as it felt right now, they’ll realize how much bigger it was once they get the backstory and all that. But they’ve been enjoying, they’ve had the time of their lives in New York. They got to do a lot of fun things with Axxess, met up with some family members. They had a really good week.”
Kofi on being the first African-born WWE Champion:
“It means a lot, especially from a representation standpoint. It’s always important for people to be able to watch WWE, especially because it’s a global product, it’s important for people all over the world to be able to look at the screen and see somebody who looks like them doing great things. And in turn, that inspires them to do great things. For me to inspire people who look like me to do awesome things, and they can look at the screen and say ‘hey, I can do this because I can see someone that looks like me and he’s doing it.’
It’s equally as important too that people who don’t necessarily look like me and can also look to my story for inspiration, because the main thing is I struggled, you know? To get here it’s been a long, hard struggle to make it to this point, and anybody out there, whether you’re black, white, Asian, South American, whatever, you can look to my story and see I struggled to get here but I kept fighting through. I didn’t give up, I didn’t take no for an answer, and I did it. It took me a long time to do it, but I did it. Anything is possible for anybody if they work hard enough.”
To read the full interview, click here.