Brock Lesnar is a terrifying mass of strength and determination.
The wrestling sensation has led a commanding career, smashing records and earning numerous titles along the way. Lesnar currently holds the WWE Universal Title, after defeating Samoa Joe during the main event of 2017’s Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view. Brock’s daunting stature and signature F-5, combined with an impressive background that includes the MMA to the NFL, adds up to a true beast of a man who does not like to be messed with.
The farm-loving South Dakota native has faced several bumps in the road, floating in and out of retirement from the WWE, and ultimately announcing his retirement from UFC and MMA fighting earlier this year. Despite his hardships, Lesnar remains a commanding force in the WWE, and his most recent title proves that he is still a threat in the ring at 40 years old.
Here are 15 facts you probably didn’t know about Brock Lesnar and his path to superstardom:
1. Before his professional career, Lesnar won the NCAA Division 1 collegiate wrestling championship as a senior at the University of Minnesota in 2000.
2. Brock’s popular WWE nickname is “The Beast Incarnate,” which is appropriate for the 6-foot-3, 285 pound monstrosity of a wrestler. Other nicknames include “The Conqueror,” “The One in 22-1,” “The Next Big Thing,” “The Anomaly” and “The Night Mayor of Suplex City.”
3. Lesnar is the only person to hold championships in the NCAA, UFC and WWE.
4. Lesnar was the youngest WWE champion in history at the age of 25. He beat The Rock in a match at 2002’s SummerSlam to claim this title. (Randy Orton would later break this record.)
5. Lesnar played for the Minnesota Vikings practice squad in 2004 after taking a break from wrestling to pursue a football career. Unfortunately, this career change came to a quick end once he was cut from the team after the pre-season.
6. Lesnar’s UFC debut (his second professional fight) came in early 2008 at UFC 81, where he lost to former heavyweight champion Frank Mir. He went on to defeat Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight title at UFC 91 later that year. Lesnar beat Mir, who held the Interim Heavyweight Championship, in their 2009 rematch at UFC 100, unifying the titles. He went on to tie UFC’s record for most successful title defenses before losing to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121.
7. He is married to former WWE women’s champion, Reena Greek aka “Sable,” and they have two sons together, Turk and Duke. Lesnar also has two kids from a previous relationship. The Beast Incarnate and Sable broke off their first engagement, but have now been happily married for over 10 years.
8. Brock is red-green colorblind, an impairment that affects approximately 8% of all males. By far the most common form of colorblindness, it not only prevents people from distinguishing between red and green but also changes how they see the entire color spectrum.
9. As a teenager, Brock aspired to join the military and work with high-tech, hazardous materials. At 17, he actually did enlist with the Army National Guard, but he was assigned an office job instead of his dream job due to his colorblindness. He left shortly thereafter.
10. Lesnar almost died after contracting diverticulitis, a disease that occurs when tiny pouches form on a person’s colon. Doctors at first could not find the source of his intense pain, and if left untreated longer than it had already been, the disease could have been fatal.
11. After a series of injuries and high levels of stress associated with the WWE’s demanding road schedule, Lesnar became addicted to alcohol and painkillers. He was involved in an infamous mid-air fight with fellow wrestler Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, dubbed “The Plane Ride From Hell.” He says of the fight, “It was full of booze and Vicodin and being stuck on an airplane for seven hours on an overseas trip. What else are you gonna do? Besides maybe pass out and fall asleep or get into trouble. We did both. We got into a scuffle on the plane.”
12. He is sponsored by the popular ‘freaky-fast’ sandwich chain, Jimmy John’s. In a recent interview, Brock explained that if he were to have a personalized sandwich featured in stores, it would probably consist of “meat and ‘taters.”
13. Lesnar is an avid hunter and active member of the National Rifle Association. In 2011, Brock faced Canadian hunting charges after failing to properly tag a mule deer he shot. He ended up paying a $1,500 fine and was banned from hunting in Canada for six months.
14. He and his family reside on a farm in Maryfield, Saskatchewan, and Lesnar himself grew up on his parents’ dairy farm in South Dakota.
15. Lesnar has a massive tattoo of a sword across his entire chest, the meaning of which he explains in his book, Death Clutch. Lesnar got the tattoo in 2005 after briefly leaving WWE during a high-stress time in his life. “I felt like life was holding a sword right up against my throat, so I went under the ink gun because I never wanted to forget exactly how I felt at that time” he explains. “The tattoo on my chest has so much meaning to me. In some ways, it’s funny, because the period of my life that I’m talking about is a time I so want to forget, but I know I can use this memory as motivation.”
Sydney Cantor is a Content Intern at CBS Local.