WWE’s Titus O’Neil on Being Nominated for Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for Second Time


For the second 12 months in a row, WWE Famous person Titus O’Neil was nominated for the Muhammad Ali Sports activities Humanitarian Award for his quite a few humanitarian efforts in and round his house metropolis of Tampa over the previous 12 months. And whereas the winner of the award was confirmed throughout Saturday evening’s ESPY Awards, O’Neil will nonetheless be acknowledged on the 2021 Sports activities Humanitarian Awards Ceremony on July 12 at The Rooftop at Pier 17 in New York on Monday. The WWE Warrior Award winner just lately spoke with ComicBook about his nomination in addition to what drives him to assist so many in his group.

When requested the way it felt getting nominated for the second consecutive 12 months (the one athlete to take action), O’Neil stated, “It feels simply nearly as good as the primary time round. I imply, it is an unbelievable honor, however clearly, one of many best human beings of all time, and considered one of my best idols, my best idol, Muhammad Ali. Feels good not solely due to my work being acknowledged, however I get an opportunity to form of symbolize our firm, and all the nice work that we do as an organization as a result of I might not be capable of do that stuff with out this platform, and with out a few of my coworkers in a few of these events that I’ve executed issues to push the needle ahead for therefore many households.”

Take a look at the complete interview with O’Neil under, and keep tuned for a particular airing of the 2021 Sports activities Humanitarian Awards on July 24 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.

For the followers who won’t know, what have you ever been as much as over the previous 12 months with regard to your humanitarian work?

Effectively, clearly with COVID, we had a whole lot of households that have been struggling, those who have been struggling previous to COVID even being a difficulty, after which those who have been restaurant homeowners and enterprise of us that have been laid off or furloughed. So we did so much with rental help, I feel nearly $1.8 million of rental help to households that have been attempting to remain of their houses with their households, and near $2 million complete in meals provides, one million {dollars} alone round Thanksgiving vacation to assist households within the Tampa Bay space and be sure that they’d sizzling meals.

However we fed academics, we fed college students all through the summer season. I received by way of my partnership with Microsoft, was in a position to get a whole lot and a whole lot of gadgets to be sure that those who have been in underserved communities that did not have entry to a laptop computer or an iPad in order that they will do their schoolwork. We have been placing it into the arms of these of us they usually’re working with Hillsborough County Faculty District alongside Microsoft to additionally get a big low cost to have the ability to assist different college students as nicely.

We did do our Again to Faculty Bash final 12 months nearly, ESPN ESPY-style, which we have been in a position to serve 20,000 college students with backpacks and faculty provides. John Cena learn his e-book, Elbow Grease. Individuals can go in one other room the place Renee Younger did a wholesome cooking lesson, after which go to a different room, and Sheamus did a Celtic Warrior exercise for youths. After which we had clearly, the [Tampa Bay] Buccaneers, and [Tampa Bay] Lightning gamers, and [Tampa Bay] Rays gamers that have been sending completely different shout-outs all through the occasion.

So it was actually such as you have been sitting there watching a TV present and made it a enjoyable, and interesting, and did prizes. I did my Tremendous Mothers occasion, which acknowledges moms from across the Tampa Bay space. Some are single moms, some are moms which have beat most cancers. Some are moms which can be legislation enforcement officers which may’ve misplaced their associate within the line of responsibility, or misplaced a member of the family within the line of responsibility. Me and Natalya, and Dave Bautista host. For the second 12 months in a row we did that occasion. A really good dinner, music reside band, simply giving these mothers an amazing occasion to form of relax and kick their toes up. Say thanks for all of the sacrifices that you simply make. Clearly, myself being raised by a single mom, Dave Bautista being raised by a single mom, after which the Natalya primarily being raised by a single mom as a result of Mr. Neidhart was on the street on a regular basis, so she undoubtedly has earned her stripes as a SuperMom.

What drives you to assist so many, particularly throughout Covid?

Effectively, I say time and time once more, that the work would not cease simply because the world stops at instances for sure individuals. It’s while you get right into a sure place, I feel particularly as a frontrunner, and I’m deemed as a group hero/group chief, I feel that that is the time that individuals have to see you much more so doing the work. They should see you investing in issues. Do not simply do issues when issues are nice. They need to see how you are going to reply, and the way are you going to be progressive, and nonetheless get the work executed and get individuals engaged. We’re getting the work executed even within the midst of a pandemic and so I checked out it as a problem. I feel that the general public which can be within the nonprofit world checked out it as simply difficult, and I am not even going to sugar coat it and say that it was straightforward, however I can say that we had the best monetary 12 months as a result of individuals can’t exit and do sure issues, however they nonetheless need to see work getting executed. And so we share a whole lot of price with regard to attempting to maximise having the ability to solely have X quantity of individuals in a single area. And you have got a number of individuals calling, “Hey, man. I need to volunteer, man. I have to do one thing. I have to get out of the home.”

Then it is like attempting to bodily put them in conditions the place they will try this. However we did it and we have been higher for it. We received higher as a basis to have the ability to navigate by way of that area and say, “You understand what? Hey, any occasion, we do not have to go as large with sure issues. We are able to additionally do that, and we will additionally spend much less cash right here, and put more cash right here.” So it was a studying course of for me as nicely as a result of I am used to only making each[thing big]. I imply, I am WWE all the best way. I need to make it large, and glamorous, and issues like that, after which we have been in a position to obtain that. However then when you possibly can’t try this, you have to discover ways to do enterprise a special approach. And so we went by way of these hurdles and challenges, however on the finish of the day, we did not permit a pandemic to cease what we have been going to do and what we got down to do.

The final time WWE followers received to see you reside was WrestleMania 37, the place you bought to be the host in entrance of the primary reside WWE crowd in over a 12 months. What did that second imply to you?

Man, it meant the world to me. Your first time in entrance of reside followers, for one. Two, having the ability to do it on the grandest stage of all of them, WrestleMania in my house metropolis of Tampa, and having the ability to do it primarily, alongside the individual that helped put WrestleMania on the map, Hulk Hogan, and he is from Tampa as nicely. And so though a number of the responses that we received throughout the present have been extra so for him, have been a little bit shaky, however on the identical token, he powered by way of it. We had an amazing present. We made historical past on a number of ranges with matches… [it was the] first time two black ladies competed in a important occasion. The primary time an African-American went right into a WrestleMania stage as a champion and got here out as a champion.

We had Unhealthy Bunny, who completely killed it together with his efficiency with The Miz, and Damian Priest, and John Morrison. Simply our ladies’s matches, our males’s matches like Apollo Crews, The New Day, Xavier [Woods]. I imply, it is simply all people that was on the roster on each nights… The Bella twins coming again, and giving followers a possibility to see two Corridor of Famers nonetheless get in there and blend it up a little bit bit with Bayley, and Bayley was phenomenal for each nights. You discuss any person taking a little bit bit and making it so much, she did that and he or she’s probably the greatest performers we’ve got in our enterprise. She’s earned each proper to do any and every thing she desires to do on this enterprise and I look ahead to seeing her proceed to do nice and be nice.

You talked about Sasha & Bianca making historical past, and we just lately realized Bobby Lashley and Kofi Kingston will wrestle for the WWE Championship at Cash within the Financial institution. How do you’re feeling about that match?

Effectively, contemplating I received into this enterprise in 2009, and even on the time that I received into it there was nonetheless a whole lot of by no means been, by no means executed, not acquainted faces in the principle occasion scene that appeared like mine, you understand? Whilst a child, I would not say it was the principle occasion scene, however the particular person I noticed essentially the most was Junkyard Canine. And now you’ve critical, clever, athletic characters of shade, and extra so, nice human beings which can be getting an opportunity to showcase their athletic abilities, but additionally to be put ready as a result of they’re nice human beings. I have a look at a match even when Kofi received a championship at WrestleMania, I do not suppose that there was one African-American fan or expertise that didn’t have tears of their eyes. I imply, I nonetheless get goosebumps interested by that second and what it meant for the tradition, what it meant for the enterprise basically, what it meant for our firm.

And it reveals that our firm isn’t just speaking about making modifications, and setting requirements, and breaking limitations. We’re really doing it and doing it at a degree now, I imply, I bear in mind once I first received into wrestling in 2009, ladies had possibly two, three minutes matches. Now, to your level, headlining WrestleMania, they’ve executed it a number of instances now, after which having outstanding spots out there for individuals of shade. They usually’re seizing that chance, and having the ability to not simply sing and dance their approach right into a state of affairs, however really peak, and present character, and present what sort of consultant they are often for our firm.

That in itself is… It is one of many the reason why I’ll do my finest to be right here so long as I presumably can as a result of I’ve seen a lot development. I am very, very happy with the modifications which have been made which have been for the higher. And while you have a look at a number of the issues which have been achieved over the past eight years, seven years, and the expansion of our firm, the partnerships that we’ve got, it is all as a result of we’re transferring and we’re saying that we need to do one thing, set a normal for one thing, inclusion, variety, after which we’re exhibiting it on tv. Some individuals might not like what we placed on tv typically, and that is high-quality. That is why it is TV.

You’ll be able to change it and placed on no matter you need, however I’ll by no means permit individuals to mismanage what we do as an organization, and what number of smiles on faces that we really placed on individuals’s faces on a weekly foundation that you could be not prefer it right here within the US, however there are individuals in South Africa, there are individuals in Australia, there are individuals in Japan, there are individuals in China, there are individuals in India that completely love every thing. They eat up each single factor we placed on TV. And to have the ability to see increasingly individuals of shade be in positions the place they will help our firm progress right into a forward-thinking, and to free-thinking, and understanding, it is a good time to be alive in our enterprise, after which by way of particularly right here for WWE.



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