"every training path failed after college": John Cena was homeless and fed free pizza after moving to Los Angeles to pursue a bodybuilding career in the 90s

“every training path failed after college”: John Cena was homeless and fed free pizza after moving to Los Angeles to pursue a bodybuilding career in the 90s

John Cena is speaking about his time being homeless and living on pizza when he first moved out to Los Angeles, California in 1999.

The WWE star turned actor, 46,  sat down with comedian Kevin Hart on his show ‘Hart to Heart’ and said that ‘every avenue of fitness failed’ him after college.

Cena had hoped to put his exercise physiology degree to work but was met with constant rejection which led him to try and become a highway patrol officer.

‘[I] came out here to apply my degree and really failed. … I couldn’t get any validation for that piece of paper that I paid for. That four-year certificate from Springfield College saying, “We think you know what you’re talking about,”‘ he said.

Desperate, Cena slept in the back of his 1991 Lincoln Continental and survived by eating pizza from a local shop that offered an ‘eat the whole pie, get it free’ deal.

John Cena (pictured) is speaking about his time being homeless and living on pizza when he first moved out to Los Angeles, California in 1999

Cena in a photo from the early days of his career as a professional wrestler in the 2000s

During a recent episode of Hart’s Peacock series, Cena explained his early struggles after he moved from his home West Newbury, Massachusetts.

Cena had hoped to find a job that would utilize his degree but that it was more difficult than he ever could have imagined.

‘I didn’t move out to LA to pursue entertainment,’ he told Hart, explaining how he thought he would be able to find a fitness-related position.

‘I moved out to apply my degree in exercise physiology and kinesiology,’ he said before Hart interjected, ‘God damn.’

‘It’s basically just a degree in working out,’ Cena retorted jokingly.

Hart asked the WWE super star why he thinks he didn’t find success in Los Angeles and Cena said he couldn’t specify but that it might have been a lack of experience.

‘Knowledge is one thing, life experience, wisdom is another,’ he shared.

Cena went on to share that the hits kept coming and that he ‘failed to the point of’ living in his car and eating free food from Zeppy’s Pizza in Hermosa Beach.

‘They had a deal where, if you could eat their whole pizza, you got it for free,’ Cena said. ‘I used to eat there every night, a whole pizza, so I didn’t have to pay, because I didn’t have the money to pay the guy.’

Cena sat down with Kevin Hart on the comedian’s Peacock show ‘Hart to Heart’ to discuss his time living in his car and his early career struggles

The WWE wrestler said that ‘every avenue of fitness failed’ him after college and that he even tried to become a California Highway Patrol officer at one point


Cena held out in Southern California and eventually signed up for the Ultimate Pro Wrestling School and made his WWE debut in 2002

The ‘Peacemaker’ actor called his living situation at the time ‘uncomfortable’ and said that it helped him to figure out who he was and what he wanted to do.

At one point, things became so bad that he considered moving back home to live with his parents despite loving Los Angeles.

‘I’m very fortunate for my story because it was my choice to have hard times,’ he said of his initial career struggles.

‘My father always said, “You’re my son. I love you. You’re always welcome back home.'” If I could get to West Newbury, Massachusetts, I would be fed. I would have a roof over my head. I would be able to regroup,’ Cena said.

He also attempted to become a California Highway Patrol officer and a cop but that he failed at those avenues as well.

Cena said he ‘chose to stay out’ and he’s glad he did because it paid off in the end.

The next year, the ‘Fast X’ star enrolled in the Ultimate Pro Wrestling school and made his WWE debut in 2002.

His success with that also took some time but he went on to become one of the most decorated, celebrated, and highest paid professional wrestlers in WWE history.


Aside from his wrestling career, Cena has found prolific success in the acting world, starring in MAX’s ‘Peacemaker’ in 2022 and having a role in 2023’s ‘Barbie’

Cena has won 16 wrestling world championships since making his debut in 2002

His stumble to success may be one reason he has stayed humble over the years.

‘My whole existence is an accident,’ Cena told Hart.

‘My whole existence is based on a series of fortunate events,’ he continued.

Despite starring in some of the biggest films and TV shows – including the 2023 box office smash ‘Barbie’ – Cena still finds time to give back.

In 2022, the actor and philanthropist was given the Guinness World Record for fulfilling the most Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes.


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