Rob, From Kid to Pro Wrestler

Rob was born in Battle Creek Michigan, December 18th, 1970, a month early (according to his mom). He was the youngest of three, and always found a way to be in the spotlight. His friends and he loved to get together and show off. He loved the diving board. Watching home movies of his childhood, there’s no mystery the diving board was his inspiration for all his areal assaults. With all his outrageous stunts, his parents worried. He was and always will be extreme.

Rob, the Boy Genius.

Rob was a smart kid. Teachers thought he was academically gifted, but as he matured, he said of academics, “It was too rigid and demanded I conform. It was everything I’m not. I never really learned how to master that.” (CNN’s WWE Icons: “Rob Van Dam). He wasn’t into sports in school (except he did join track, but only to goof off, doing flips on the pole vault mat).

“I don’t want to watch that.”

Rob said of his teen years, “I remember my friends used to watch professional wrestling (WWF), and I [would] laugh at the names—Brutus Beefcake and Big John Stud. They tried to convince me it was cool. I remember they dragged me to watch it, and I did.” He would never forget that first match. The Iron Sheik attacked Corporal Kirchner, and from that moment he was hooked. “I wanted to be a pro wrestler. I knew that was where I was going to be someday, but my mom was like, ‘You’ll never be like that. There’s no way.’” 

Rob’s First Wrestling Bucks

He watched live matches at the Kellogg center. During a live event June 28, 1997, Million Dollar Man was doing a promo and asked for a volunteer to come down to the ring. His slogan or catch phrase was, “Everyone has their price.” Million Dollar Man pointed at Rob’s friend Dango, but Rob jumped up and got in the ring. He said, “I was a terrible negotiator that day. I could have walked away with five hundred dollars or more, but I was so [star struck] to be in the ring, I wasn’t thinking straight. I kissed his feet for $100.” Years before RVD was created, he made his first wrestling money.

High School for Rob

By the time he was a junior in High school, Rob knew for sure he wanted to be a professional wrestler. He focused on getting fit. He did stretches and lifted weights, whatever he could to get closer to his goal. “Every morning and night I would go to town on the weights.” He even joined the High School wrestling team but didn’t stick with it because again, he could not conform. He knew what he wanted and wasn’t going to let anyone tell him otherwise. He said of wrestling, “I weighed 165 lbs., and the coach told me to lose 30 pounds. I thought he was crazy. {he wanted me to lose weight when] I wanted to be 235lbs, and I was still growing. I wanted to reach my full potential and not stunt my growth.” That was that. 

Kickboxing First

After High School wrestling didn’t work out, he and his buddy were always on the lookout for a way to wrestle. One day, they spotted this guy in Battle Creek who had a ring in his backyard. They went and knocked on his door and told him, “We’re going to be professional wrestlers, but we needed a ring to train in.” Kit Lykins, the man who owned the ring, this man, happened to be the heavyweight World Champion in the Karate world council as well as a promoter. Kit looked at these two kids and said, “I’ll make a deal with you. If you do karate, I’ll let you guys’ practice in my ring.” Rob didn’t even blink before his hand was out. “Deal,” he said.  So, the next day they showed up and they never left.

Extreme Rob Unleashed

Kit took Rob and his buddy to a fight club where Rob fought a grown man. The man landed a few shots, but Rob wailed on him and won in literally less than a few minutes. One after another, Rob knocked them out. His opponents’ experience didn’t matter. He was a monster, and in a way, Rob paid his dues kickboxing. He was nearly primed and ready for the WWE. All the seeds for RVD were planted, growing and ready to sprout, all but one—HEMP. Back then, CBD & THC were nowhere near his radar. But without it, Rob would not and could not be the RVD we all know and love!

Rob Van Dam via wwe.com

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