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Photo Credit: Bill Pritchard

Ali On Balancing Careers As A Police Officer & Wrestler, Transitioning To Wrestling Full Time

WWE SmackDown star Ali was a recent guest on Edge and Christian’s Pod Of Awesomeness and talked about the difficulties of being a police officer while trying to climb the ladder of success as a professional wrestler.

On transitioning to wrestling full-time

“It was a gradual thing. I was the guy who had a big retirement indie match and then came back seven or eight months later and decided to only wrestle once a month for a local promotion I liked. It was that thing, me not letting go of wrestling. It was my dream, I’d close my eyes and see myself competing at WrestleMania. When I opened my eyes, I was a nobody. I wasn’t famous, I wasn’t traveling the world, and I was committed to this police officer gig.

For some reason, I couldn’t let go, and that’s when the Cruiserweight Classic opportunity came about. It was out of nowhere, and I think it only happened because I was still in their database from that 2013 tryout. That was my last shot and the heartbreaking story about it was that when they told me about the CWC being on the network and broadcast all over the world, they said it would be a big deal. When they announced the tournament with the list of participants, my name isn’t on the list. I can’t find it, my mind’s going crazy, I even think that they may have confused me with one of the Bollywood Boyz. Eventually, I call William Regal, and he said he was sad to tell me that I was just an alternate and I wasn’t scheduled to be on the show. I asked how many alternates there were, and Regal said there were 10. I thought it was done right there.

Somehow, an opportunity came up, and I wrestled Lince Dorado in the first round. I was in and out and I thought again that it was done right there. Then, another NXT opportunity came up, then I was in the Dusty Classic, then another NXT stint. I was still a police officer at the time, but it was always there. After five or six times, I asked Triple H where I was at, and he gave me the response that there were ‘so many dogs and only so many bones to give out.’ I thought there that he was just telling me to get out, but then I got the call a week later with an offer. I did the police officer stuff until two days before I started full-time with WWE.”

On being a police officer while climbing the ranks in pro wrestling

“I’m supposed to be this super positive character, so I won’t tell you that it was the most miserable couple of years of my life. I will say that it really wasn’t convenient trying to figure all that out at one time. It started out when I was 16 years old, it got to the point where things were winding down, I didn’t really do the International tours. I did have a tryout with WWE in 2013, and I remember being told the blandest statement ever. They just said, ‘you’re not what we’re looking for.’ Not anything about my promos or in-ring, nothing, just ‘you’re not what we’re looking for.’ I didn’t know how to take that, and I had a friend who was also a wrestler who became a police officer and he was telling me about the job. He said it was meaningful work and something that I was looking for.

My real name is Adeel, and that roughly translates to ‘One who seeks justice for others’ It’s kind of like a calling, so to speak. I’ve always been fond of the profession, it’s supposed to be noble, one where you serve the people. I felt like I could do that job. I became a police officer because I really thought I was going to step away from wrestling full time. I served in Chicago for about four years on the midnight shift while taking indie bookings in the evenings. I’d get home like 8:30 AM, get my kids ready for school and then sleep all day. It was a terrible schedule and my wife said that she hated it more than me being on the road for WWE.”

On having two dangerous positions at the same time

“It’s really ironic because one of my friends watched the episode of WWE Chronicle about me detailing my Arab background and being a police officer. He said that I was supposed to be a babyface but I was talking about two of the most difficult things for people to get behind.

Being a police officer is hard because sometimes you come home, you’re supposed to unpack what happened during your shift. How am I supposed to come home and tell my wife that I fought this guy for my life last night? That, someone, was highly intoxicated, on drugs and reaching for my gun. How do I explain to her that someone died on me? How do I explain that I had to bring young children from a horrible situation? I just don’t know how to talk about those things to her. So sometimes, I just didn’t, I’d keep it in inside and that’s bad too. It’s already difficult to sleep at night doing what you were doing, and my schedule just didn’t help.”

Related: Ali On The Brotherhood Of The 205 Live Roster, The Difficulties Of Being A Parent On The Road