When Kofi Kingston won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, some people thought that he would just be a transitional champion and that the strap would be around someone's waist in short time. But over two months later Kingston is still champion much to the surprise of many.
Kingston talked about holding the title longer than many expected he would when he joined the State of Combat podcast.
"It is definitely hit me hard. It hits me hard every single day because every day on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram I get daily comments of people who are just so happy that I am champion. They give me stories about how it motivates them to go out and try things and do things and go out and be things and be somebody, it hasn't gotten old yet," revealed Kingston. "I get goose bumps even talking about it. Anytime somebody shares a personal story with me during autograph signings and someone comes up to me and shakes my hand and says thank you and I'm just like, wow. The fact that I can have an influence over somebody; it is heartwarming, it is the goal."
Kingston is the first African-born World Champion in WWE history and he's proud to be that beacon of hope for others who are in the same position that he was once in.
"I feel like representation is important," Kingston said. "You might not think you can do something and you look at the field in which you are trying to make strides in but you don't see somebody that looks like you. Then all of a sudden now you are starting to think if it's the way that I look, or the way that I am, or that I have gone through this and that is the reason why I can't do it, but now with time, you can see little black kids, or little African-American kids can actually look at the screen and rule that factor out. Now they can say, oh, you know what? Just because I look a certain way it doesn't mean I cannot accomplish this because Kofi Kingston did it so it is extremely important for me. It is important to see that in the physical rather than just in theory, which was one of the main reasons why I kept fighting and try to get to this point; it is very easy to get down and quit but the main message I want to give out to people is to not quit because you never know when your opportunity is going to come.
"It took me 11 years to get a shot at the WWE championship; not just to win it, but just to get a shot, but luckily I was able to capitalize on that and become WWE champion, but if I had quit I wouldn't have been in that position. I wouldn't have been as motivated to stay in shape; to keep my skill-level high and to be innovative then I probably wouldn't have been in that position either so the example I want to set for everybody is to just be ready, you know? Keep your blades sharp. Keep on fighting. Do everything in your power to make sure you achieve your dreams. Don't let the reasons why you don't accomplish your dreams be because of you or a decision that you made. Do everything that you can possibly do to achieve that dream."
The world of pro wrestling isn't like other sports where once you win a championship, you have all offseason to bask in the glory and reflect on your win. In wrestling you are competing the very next night and because of that, it still hasn't fully hit Kingston that he is the WWE Champion.
"It's still sinking in. Unfortunately, the thing about us is that we don't have a lot of time to sit and think and reflect on what has happened. Every now and then I do realize how important it is. The fact that so many people were behind me made me feel as though all those years that I had worked hard and sacrificed and the effort I put into those matches was all for this," stated Kingston.
"For people to have come on this journey with me and to see people in the crowd hugging and crying with each other. There were people that had sent me videos of their kids crying and were so happy and people who had sent me videos hugging each other in bars and crying, I definitely realize how important it is that I have touched so many people in so many ways and being able to do what I love to do it is the ultimate goal and that is honestly the ultimate goal. We still have more work to do but I feel like we are on the right track for sure."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit State of Combat with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.