Wrestling – whether amateur or professional – has become a well-known sport thanks to sporting events such as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the Olympic Games. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena and Dave Bautista are perhaps the celebrity names that spring to mind when you think of wrestling. These celebrities first started in the ring and have expanded their careers into different areas. Another celebrity who got her start through heralded sport, but not on a big stage, is Mark Ruffalo. Known for his portrayal as the Hulk, Ruffalo has had a strong passion for the sport since he was young.
Now, Ruffalo has played a number of characters in films, but none compare to his Marvel role as the Hulk. Some fans may not know that the actor is more like his superhero character than they think. In wrestling, two opponents take up the mat, which becomes a test of strength, conditioning, and mental toughness. The MCU character, the Hulk, is known for using his super strength and large demeanor to fight enemies. Like his character, Ruffalo has seen his fair share of struggles for strength on the wrestling mat. According to his interview with USA Today, wrestling wasn’t an easy task for Ruffalo. “You had to prove yourself. So that was my first hurdle. Once I did that, the community really opened up to me,” he said.
Ruffalo’s passion for wrestling began as a child and continued in the years that followed.
Mark Ruffalo gave up wrestling to pursue acting
Passion for sports, art and more can start at a young age. Kids will participate in activities that they enjoy and that represent them, and for Mark Ruffalo, that was wrestling. Ruffalo started wrestling as a young boy in junior high, according to USA Today. As with any kid who admires their parents, Ruffalo’s passion for wrestling could be traced back to his father. Ruffalo’s father had also competed in wrestling as a young child; The star’s father even became a state wrestling champion USA Today.
Because Ruffalo started out as a young boy, he hadn’t built the physique that many would think of when it comes to a wrestler. Ruffalo saw a drastic change in his weight since he started exercising. The actor told the outlet he weighed from just 83 pounds to a whopping 112 pounds. Strength only built as the Avengers star continued with the sport through high school. Ruffalo was so good at sports that he had the opportunity to continue in college, but he ended up finding another passion.
As a high school senior, Ruffalo decided to pursue acting. He took part in a production of “West Side Story” at his school (via Britannica). After this performance, the actor never looked back and fully pursued acting.
Wrestling prepared Mark Ruffalo for acting
Many people may not know that Mark Ruffalo has dealt with serious fights throughout his life. The actor’s family struggled financially, and although Ruffalo had the opportunity to earn a scholarship in wrestling, he still chose acting (via Men’s Journal). Ruffalo learned a lot from the sport and applied some of the principles to his acting career.
The actor shared with USA Today, “A lot of the qualities I learned in wrestling were sorely needed for the job I have now. I think it helped me a lot over the years that I struggled, that determination and perseverance.” Boy, did his perseverance pay off, Ruffalo was nominated for multiple Academy Awards and is now known as one of Marvel’s most iconic characters , the Hulk.
Unexpectedly for Ruffalo, wrestling also prepared him for a role in more ways than stamina. He landed a role as the late Dave Schultz, an Olympic wrestler, in the film Foxcatcher. Having not wrestled in quite some time, the film required the actor to brush up on his wrestling skills. Ruffalo shared, “I had to relearn everything because he [Schultz] guided mostly with his left, so that was the most frustrating thing re-learning what I thought I already knew.” The actor had plenty of support — particularly from his wife Sunrise, who called it “great Men’s Journal,” as Ruffalo expressed brought to return to the mat.