WWE's Kalisto looks to inspire fans to relentlessly pursue their dreams

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Kalisto (center) is held up by Mustafa Ali (left) and Cedric Alexander after winning the WWE Cruiserweight championship on Oct. 9, 2017.

WWE Cruiserweight champion Kalisto has a purpose in life beyond entertaining thousands of fans with his athletic exploits in a wrestling ring.

His purpose is to inspire as many people as possible to chase their dreams, regardless of their circumstances in life.

And fans do not have to look any further than Kalisto, whose real name is Emanuel Rodriguez, for an example.

“I’ve been through it all,” Kalisto said during an interview with philly.com.

Although Kalisto’s opponent at WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs — Enzo Amore — fancies himself as a “Certified G,” Kalisto saw his fair share of real ones while growing up in the Pilsen section of Chicago.

According to Kalisto, his neighborhood was so bad at times that he could not go outside and play. In an effort to keep her son out of the streets, Kalisto’s mother kept him busy with a plethora of extra-curricular activities and jobs.

Kalisto played football, water polo and did Greco-Roman wrestling. He was also on his high school’s chess and bowling teams.

When he wasn’t playing sports, he was learning how to play the guitar and piano. As far as jobs, Kalisto worked a flea market in Chicago called Swap-O-Rama with his mother.

He also worked as a security guard, a librarian and even did dry walling, gardening and roofing. He even worked at a video store.

Despite all of that, it was still hard for Kalisto and his family to make ends meet.

“We had nothing. We barely had food,” Kalisto said. “It was tough. My brother and my sister, me being the youngest in the family, they always hid the bad stuff from me.”

“If we were missing food or we didn’t have enough money they never told me because I was the youngest, but I learned as I grew up what really happened throughout the years,” he added. “My brother and my sister were the best ever. They always protected me. They were so overprotective.”

Although those were tough times for Kalisto and his family, it also lends credence to his message of overcoming less-than-ideal circumstances, as he went from living in an attic to being the WWE Cruiserweight champion.

“I know what I’m talking about and I know what I say is true because I’ve lived through it,” Kalisto said. “I know how it is to struggle. I know how it is to sacrifice.”

Oct. 9, 2017

The night Kalisto became WWE Cruiserweight champion was special for him on a number of levels.

Not only was it his first time in the main event of Raw, but his victory took place on what would have been Eddie Guerrero’s 50th birthday. On top of that, Kalisto received a congratulatory tweet from fellow masked luchador Rey Mysterio.

“They’re two inspirations to everyone and to me,” Kalisto said. “They’re the reason why I’m here. They opened doors for luchadors and high flyers like us. They’re the reason.”

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