Mansoor Al-Shehail, famously known in the wrestling world as Mansoor, made significant waves in the WWE universe between 2018 and 2023, etching his name in history as the inaugural Saudi Arabian wrestler to grace the WWE stage.
In a revealing interview on the "Keepin' it 100" podcast, Mansoor delved into his formative years in Saudi Arabia, providing a glimpse into the cultural tapestry that shaped his early life and career aspirations. In Saudi Arabia, where soccer reigns supreme as the national pastime, Mansoor found himself at odds with the conventional sports culture.
"Soccer, or football as we call it, dominates the sporting landscape in Saudi Arabia, much like it does in numerous countries around the globe. I, however, found myself drawn not to the soccer field but to the wrestling ring," Mansoor recounted.
His passion for wrestling was fueled by his childhood consumption of WWE pay-per-views, albeit through less-than-official channels, which were his only gateway to the world of professional wrestling.
Mother's Cultural Shif
Mansoor also shed light on the cultural adjustments faced by his American mother upon moving to Saudi Arabia.
A veteran of the military and a former business owner, his mother encountered significant lifestyle changes, including restrictions on driving and mandatory adherence to the traditional dress code, which includes the Abaya and Hijab.
"The transition was challenging for her, accustomed to a different level of autonomy in the U.S.," he explained. A particularly harrowing incident underscored these cultural differences when Mansoor's mother was confronted by a police officer for not wearing a head covering during an emergency trip to the pharmacy in the rain.
The situation escalated quickly, leading to a standoff that Mansoor's mother resolved by ensuring the officer faced consequences for his actions. Mansoor's journey from the soccer-averse youth in Saudi Arabia to a trailblazing figure in WWE not only highlights his personal resilience and dedication to his craft but also underscores the complex interplay of cultural, familial, and individual dynamics that shape the lives of international athletes.
His story, rich in cultural nuance and personal triumph, offers a unique perspective on the global appeal and transformative power of professional wrestling.