athlete becomes a champion without the support of friends, family, or a positive mentor who inspires them to do their best. In any sport, from football to bodybuilding or baseball to wrestling, success requires a positive mindset that doesn't get dragged down by the negativity and carefree limitations others place on you. On Thursday, WWE Superstars Bianca Belair and the tag team known as "The Street Profits" (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) took some time off from practice for their massive live event "Clash at the Castle" in Cardiff to do something to bring positive message to the Boys and Girls Club of Wales. M&F was on hand to learn the importance of supporting young athletes with professional mentoring and ensuring local authorities invest appropriately in the sport so they can reach their full potential.
Since 2011, WWE's "Be a STAR" rallies and programs have reached more than 500,000 children around the world who attended centers like the Boys and Girls Club here in Cardiff, Wales; a much-needed charity that has existed since the 1920s and seeks to promote sport and physical activity through key youth programs. The reality is you never know when a young person will be inspired to become the next Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or John Cena, so reaching out and supporting young athletes everywhere is a must. Unfortunately, however, a lack of government funding, the pandemic and other social and cultural issues threaten to derail a young person's sporting career before they even get off the starting blocks. It's a topic dear to the heart of WWE Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair.
Courtesy of WWE
"Encouraging kids to play sports is everything to me," says the former gymnast and track star-turned-pro wrestler. “Playing sports gives you such great life skills, whether you're a professional or not. You will develop great leadership skills and [sports] teaches you hard work.” Far from being born or created in a lab, even the top athletes you see on TV needed strong mentors to guide them to success.
“On a personal level, my high school track coach always taught me to just keep going,” says Montez Ford. “He taught me to be determined and always try to be better than myself. He taught me how to incorporate zero mistakes into your training. He taught me mentality because to perform at a high level you have to be clear.” Of course, sticking with sports beyond childhood could have huge benefits for mental health in general, but studies suggest that most Children give up regular sport by the age of 11. It's a situation that threatens to thwart our ability to produce the next great sporting icons. So if you visit young people as WWE travels from city to city, meeting with local governments and inspiring kids to be active, chances are the next sports star is listening.
"I've played football almost my entire life," says Angelo Dawkins. “I didn't start wrestling until my junior year of high school. I have to give credit to my coach because without him I probably wouldn't be here to have this conversation. If I didn't step on a wrestling mat in high school, then I'm not in the position I'm in now.” Sticking with the sport was a deciding factor for Dawkins, who is now a multiple tag teamer with Ford -Champion is.
These WWE wrestlers understand the rewards of persevering and enjoying the thrill of being competitive. "I grew up wanting to be an Olympic gymnast or an athlete, and I'm neither, but being in sports helped me get through college, helped me grow through early adulthood come, and it's really contributed to my success here in WWE," adds Belair, one of the company's most beloved stars. She says she gets a lot of personal satisfaction from encouraging kids to keep pushing themselves to reach their potential.
Be a STAR rallies aren't the only initiative WWE is running to improve people's chances of making sport worthwhile. The professional wrestling juggernaut recently unveiled its Next in Line program, which aims to provide a pathway for athletes to transition from other disciplines into the WWE ring. Signings included University of Tennessee track and field athlete Chandler Hayden and most notably; Tokyo 2021 Olympic Champion Gable Stevenson. These evolving sports stars are now poised to become the next big things in WWE.
If just one of the young athletes in Cardiff hears the words of Bianca Belair, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins, who says they won't someday compete at a future WrestleMania or international stadium show like this one? planned in cardiff this weekend?
WWE “Clash at the Castle” takes place live from Principality Stadium this Saturday, September 3. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Watch live on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.