At 6 foot 5 and more than 340 pounds of solid muscle, World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Batista has never been afraid to hand out beat-downs—in or out of the wrestling ring. In his new autobiography, Batista Unleashed, the reigning World Heavyweight champion describes how his single mother moved coast-to-coast to protect him from violence and his own criminal behavior as a youth.
Eventually Batista—who recalls seeing three people shot in his Washington, D.C., front yard before he turned 9—discovered bodybuilding. The pastime not only chiseled his physique into a weapon mass destruction, it kept him off the streets and in the process probably saved his life.
At 30, usually the midway point in a pro wrestling career, Batista found his way into the WWE. In short order he became one of the multimillion dollar industry’s top draws, ultimately headlining WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of sports entertainment, where he won his first of three World Heavyweight Championships to date.
In this exclusive interview, the athlete born Dave Bautista but known to millions around the world as “the Animal,” discusses his respect for pro wrestling’s highest-ranking gay, the former WWE superstar turned agent Pat Patterson, how the industry is changing to accept greater diversity, and why nobody would dare mouth off about his lesbian mom.
In Batista Unleashed, you mention your mother and father attempted to reconcile during your early childhood--despite the fact she’s a lesbian. It was just one time they tried to reconcile which I really remember, and that was after my mom moved to San Francisco. They tried to save the marriage, but I don’t even remember that lasting very long.
As a child, how did your mother’s sexuality impact you? It didn’t. It really didn’t. I don’t really remember my mom not having girlfriends. I never really thought about it. I don’t think I was really aware then. It’s not like my mom was making out with girls in front of us. [Chuckles] She just had her girlfriends around, and that’s how she referred to them—she called her girlfriends “girlfriends.” Even my dad—I don’t think I really ever noticed my dad that much either. I don’t have any strong recollection of him being with us for any long period of time.