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From Corporate To Canvas: Exclusive Interview with Amir Jordan on NXT UK, Post WWE Life and Identity


The early pages in the diary of a wrestler are often filled with years of hustle, countless hours of travelling around the globe and very little spare change left to show for it.


I got the chance to talk with the former NXT UK star Amir Jordan, about the drastic life choices that led him to the Squared Circle, his time in WWE, the importance of culture and spirituality both inside and outside of the ring and much more.

 

Early Years



“It was my grandad. He was a big wrestling fan,”, as Jordan recalls his earliest memory of professional wrestling. “He asked my sister to get the SummerSlam ’97 DVD, where it was Bret ‘The Hitman' Hart vs The Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as a special guest referee. After that, I was hooked!"


Amir grew up in a close-knit community within the districts of West Yorkshire, but also spent some of those formative years living in Pakistan. It was at the age of around 18 that he would have his first (failed) attempt at getting involved in pro wrestling. A quick message to Drew McDonald, who owned a wrestling school in Leeds at the time, came to no avail. McDonald was a Scottish wrestler credited with helping WWE recruiting the likes of Paige (a.k.a. Saraya), Sheamus and Wade Barrett and had himself worked matches with the likes of Robbie Brookside, Chris Benoit, Fit Finlay and Giant Haystacks.


As a British-Pakistani, the idea of becoming a wrestler was never meant to be taken seriously. Jordan went on to pursue a degree at a local university before accepting an internship in New York City. “The first six months (in America), I didn’t know what I was doing.” During this time, he was fortunate enough to be in the crowd for Cena vs Rock II and The Undertaker’s streak being broken by Brock Lesnar at successive WrestleMania’s.


Jordan would move back to London to start his career in investment banking for a life and salary that most individuals would be happy with. Being stuck in a loophole of 8-6 shifts and conversations with older co-workers about great times ‘back in our days’ was enough to decide that living in the past was not his destiny. “It took me to make money to realise that life isn’t all about money”, Jordan reflected.


“If I can make a success out of something I wasn’t passionate about in banking, imagine what I can do with something I care about.”


The dream was still alive. “I grew up wanting to be a wrestler. I was 25 at the time. If I don’t do this now, I am never going to do it.” Jordan soon approached Lance Storm, who headed the highly acclaimed Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Canada. A six month wait for admission gave Jordan a final push to save more money in England, as he looked to get in shape and get to grips with the basics of wrestling training. 5AM gym session, 8AM-6PM shift at work, 8PM training at PROGRESS would be the brutal routine for the next 6 months.


Between then and his first break in wrestling, Jordan mentioned to me that he was barely home in Yorkshire to visit family. The hustle and grind was in full effect. That feeling once upon a time of being confined to living his life in Dewsbury was a distant memory, yet being in close proximity to his roots/family was still a core element of his life in the long run.


 

The Fever Dream



“Everything changed after I got the WWE contract. Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah), now I have a whole system around me.” Jordan’s mother assists in keeping on top of his athlete diet, his family often come to his live shows, as well as his wife and his best friend sharing the same passion of being huge wrestling fans.


Meeting Hulk Hogan during his time with WWE was a memory he vividly remembers, where the Hulkamaniac was sure to praise the ‘British Strong Style’ that got so many wrestlers over and hired during the formation of NXT UK. “At that time, Brit Wres was on the up. Indie shows had WrestleMania level talent.” A key reason for NXT UK taking off was the UK Championship tournament held in Blackpool to crown the first ever WWE United Kingdom Champion (won by Tyler Bate).


Jordan would take part in the tournament the following year, much to the surprise of many including himself – just two years into his wrestling career. “I was the last person to be announced on the YouTube video. Everyone was shocked I was in it. My phone overheated. The news got to Pakistan, my phone went even crazier!”. Jordan was travelling on a Megabus on the M1 during this surreal moment.



During the NXT UK heydays, as a practicing Muslim, Jordan was still upholding his religious duties by fasting during the Holy Month of Ramadhan for around 20 hours a day – as Ramadhan was during the peak of summer. Muslims abstain from food and water from dawn to sunset during the 9th month of the lunar calendar to increase spirituality and discipline, get closer to Allah and truly empathise with those less fortunate than them.


“I always fasted. People always respected it. Fasting is all mental. I push harder – much like intermittent fasting is better for your system, I use Ramadhan now to lean out.” The Bhangra Badboy does not train much with in-ring drills in the Holy Month but flips his routine to do his weight training in the evenings instead.


With millions of Muslims currently partaking in fasting during March/April, the fasts are a lot shorter and the need for great adaptability isn’t a must anymore. “They (fasts) aren’t long anymore. I can eat and digest before evening shows.”

 

The Power of Representation



The pro wrestling world does not have many exclusive faces of inspiration for Muslims, but one name is Mustafa Ali. Recently, the current TNA X-Division Champion was the only TNA wrestler besides Samoa Joe to have been on the front cover of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Like Jordan, Ali comes from a Pakistani descent and the Brit had nothing but good words to say about his counterpart. “I have been very lucky to have had (Mustafa) Ali there. He has been a mentor, always helping me out. Seeing him do his thing makes me believe that I can do it as well.”


The label of the Karachi Kid being the first British Pakistani Muslim talent to get signed to WWE is in the history books forever. Yet, the 33 year old never saw himself as a role model but has accepted this in recent times. “Whether you like it or not, it’s your responsibility to be a good example as you’re in the public eye. I want more Muslims to get into pro wrestling.”


According to MEND, the number of Islamophobic hate crimes reported in 2016/17 were 1,264. In 2024, the UK Government’s hate crime centre reported a shocking 600% rise in Islamophobia, with media and government narratives as well as acceptable prejudices having massively contributed to Islamophobia. “The only way we can change those perspectives is by being a good example in every industry. If you’re going to achieve any level of success (as a Muslim), you will be that representative. Part of being a Muslim is being a good person.”, Jordan emphasised.


 

Faith in Adversity


A year and a half on after being released by WWE, the Bhangra Badboy has stuck to his identity as a Pakistani Muslim in the ring and has every intention of riding out the current state of the independent scene after returning from his lengthy shoulder injury.


“It is part of any wrestler's process. The best wrestlers in the world go through periods where they think nothing is going to happen. No one makes it in wrestling without going through difficulties. I was lucky that I got so much so quickly, I bypassed that then. But going through what I’m going through now, or the time being frustrated at NXT UK, COVID-19 or my shoulder surgery, that’s my version of difficult times you have to go through to make it.”


At that point, Jordan was quick in remembering an inspiring anecdote told to him a few years ago by the late Brodie Lee (a.k.a Luke Harper) in Canada. “Harper had told me – ‘I had basically quit and I had stopped caring about my appearance and even washing my gear. WWE needed someone who looked messy for the Wyatt Family… and they saw me.’ He was 33 or 35 at the time, never had a look in and I’ll never forget what he said. He said ‘I stopped giving a sh*t and they found a gimmick for me.’”


Looking back, Amir does not regret the path he took, nor the drastic career change he made. “I’m 36 now, I’m very thankful that I had a life before wrestling. My life and personality was developed outside of wrestling, something a lot of wrestlers struggle with. Being in banking wouldn’t have made me a better Muslim. Being a pro wrestler has made me a better Muslim.”


A big part of staying grounded and/or getting past setbacks is Amir’s faith in spirituality, which serves those who believe firmly in Allah with a greater purpose than the current moment they are living in.

“I believe that our lives are set out for us. It’s our job to work hard and we believe in this as Muslims. It has fully strengthened my belief in God. I would have had an easy ride in banking. But you learn more from the difficulties in life.”



You can follow Amir Jordan on Twitter, on Instagram and buy his merchandise here.

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