Kenneth Crawford, now known to millions of professional wrestling fans as Montez Ford, was apparently born to compete. The 31-year-old's trip to WWE has been a physical one, but his love of intense competition is only matched by his desire for entertainment.
Chicago-born Crawford was hailed as an athletic star at Anson High School after moving to rth Carolina, where he was named Athlete of the Year in 2007, my senior year, ”he says. “I ran the 400m and the 200m, both their relays. I also ran cross-country to keep my stamina up and was a member of the JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps) in high school. Well, I've just been running all my life (laughs). "
Crawford joined the military straight out of high school. “It's going to go running again,” says the charismatic athlete. “And the training on how to walk 100%. It was just going, going, going all the time, so the foundation of my physical fitness comes from. ”The athlete says he found parallels with his career, serving his country.
“There is no room for error,” he says. “It prepared me a lot for (the pressure of) live TV. On the track, there really isn't much room for error in a race, and the same is true in the military, there is no room for error in the various tasks that go on there. I feel like they both helped shape me for the WWE in terms of live TV programming. Thank god I had this training! (laughs). "
Crawford has always been interested in pro wrestling and after submitting his details to the recruitment website, WWE invited him for a trial session. While his athletic background proved to be a great stepping stone to a wrestling career, he found learning the ropes one of his greatest challenges.
"The crazy thing about it, a lot of people don't know, I actually had two trial sessions," he says. “I had one in 2013 and one in 2014 and was finally signed on the second tryout, so I didn't really start until mid-2015. One of the hardest things to remember was that watching wrestling is completely different from actually watching professional wrestling. The art and craft that go into the sequences. You realize that it is an art. You have to wait for certain moments or pause here or slow down there by also maneuvering your body in different ways.
“Like athletics or basketball, you have your regular fixed movements. It's straight on the track, or in basketball you might have to switch from side to side, and in football you have to use agility, but in wrestling you use every aspect. Whether jumping out of the ring or landing on a small area on the apron or climbing a ladder (laughs), there are so many different ways to use your mobility. "
Kenneth Crawford excelled on the mat, adopting Montez Ford as his WWE ring name. While at the NXT brand, Ford met his future real-life wife, Bianca (Blair) Belair, and his Street Profits tag team partner, Angelo Dorkins.
Fast forward to today and The Street Profits are now one of the most famous teams in WWE, having won the tag team titles on NXT, Raw and SmackDown. But that could change on October 1, when WWE launches their next draft – a WWE superstar cross-brand shake that sees wrestlers switch to different shows.
Courtesy of WWE
It's an unpredictable time of year as the talent discovers their future on live television, leaving little time to prepare for another tour schedule that could separate them from friends, partners and loved ones. Montez Ford remains positive, however. “The draft is one of the most exciting times of the year,” he says. “We've talked about this before, and there's always the potential for us to be divided (by the draft). We've had success with all three brands in the past including NXT, Raw and SmackDown, so we're prepared for that in terms of what actually happens. "
He adds, “In my case, that would not only mean leaving my team but also leaving my spouse, so it's one of those things that is bittersweet, but you try to prepare for it, and it's one very exciting time, there will be so many fresh faces, rivalries and new competition. "
Fortunately, The Street Profits and Bianca Belair have a special bond that cannot be broken by a WWE draft. Ford and Belair married in 2018, and at WrestleMania 37: Night One, the two celebrated in the ring after WWE's "EST" defeated Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship. And while Ford was overwhelmed with pride for his wife's accomplishments, it also helped start a fire regarding his own desire for the main event WrestleMania.
"It was not only a great and just a milestone for the WWE EST, but also motivating for me," says Ford. "You know, seeing her in this position, seeing that she not only does well, but does is also obviously successful by winning the title and being the main event, it is inspiring that I can do the same and one day Bianca can finally come. "And celebrate with me too."
In the individual competition, Ford, who manages an impressive height jump of 64 inches, has already shown that it has what it takes to keep up with the big dogs. Earlier this month, he battled Roman Reigns in an exciting main event that showed the potential of the 6 & # 39; 1 ″, 230-plus-pounder. It was a huge pressure test that he passed with flying colors. “I felt good after that because I knew I did,” says Ford. “If you can get through this and be successful, you can know that when that time comes you will be even better. t only have I been grateful and blessed that I was able to hold out with Roman Reigns, who is currently arguably the greatest in-ring performer in the world, but I look forward to doing it again very soon. "
Tune in to the WWE Draft starting October 1st during SmackDown to learn the fate of Montez Ford, Bianca Belair and Angelo Dorkins in relation to which brand they will represent.