Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rough road to the top for wrestler, by Scott Casey - Brisbane Times - 18th June 2008

Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) lives a glamorous life of global jetsetting, fine clothes, exquisite jewellery and beautiful women - so it's difficult to imagine that his long journey to the top actually began at the very bottom.

MVP, born Alvin Burke, had to grow up fast when at age 16, after running with gangs and getting in scrapes with the law, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping.

During the nine years MVP spent on the inside, he decided to take his life down another path.

"It was at work release where I became a gym rat ... I was what they call 'permanent party' so I couldn't leave the work release facility, I worked in the kitchen, so all I did was eat and work out," he told

"When I got to work release I was 207 pounds (93 kilograms) and by the time I got transferred ... I was 245 pounds (111kg)."

During the work release program, MVP was approached by wrestler "Primetime" Darryl D, who, upon MVP's release, gave him the opportunity to train with another wrestler, "Soul man" Alex G.

While building up his skills and his reputation as an independent wrestler, MVP worked a variety of jobs to support himself.

"I worked primarily in nightclubs ... bodyguard work, things of that sort. I did that work for two reasons: one, because I'm a convicted felon it was hard to find work; and two, because it gave me the flexibility to go to the independent shows."

He managed to turn his difficulty finding work into a positive, and now helps former prisoners to get their lives back on track.

"You send a guy to prison, you put that black mark on him and he gets out he can't live anywhere, can't work anywhere, his options are extremely limited," he said.

"I'd like to show people your options are limited but you need to have the resolve within to overcome."

Now that MVP is at the top of his profession, he looks forward to the expansion of WWE into new markets across the world.

"People that can't even speak English can say, 'MVP you suck!'... I'm excited about the fact we opened up an office in China," he said.

"They talk about WWE being a slice of Americana - well, now it's becoming a slice of Australia and a slice of Brazil and a slice of all these other places where people are just overwhelmed by WWE and this mania."

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