What is Dwayne Johnson’s ethnicity? Exploring The Rock’s heritage on both his parents’ side

Know about The Rock’s rich family heritage, his roots, and how this has had a profound impact on his life, which made him the most successful wrestler in WWE from his family.

Published on Jan 19, 2024  |  09:01 PM IST |  208K
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The Rock ( Getty Images )

Did you know that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was the first black African-American to win the WWE (then WWF) Championship in 1998? Within 2 years of his debut in the company, where he was under the shadow of other wrestlers, and even booed by the crowd, not only did a black wrestler, Rocky Maivia (the name under which he made his debut) shut the crowd, he emerged as the top heel face in the company.

From hearing chants like ‘Rocky Sucks’ to becoming ‘The People’s Champion’, The Rock did it all alone. At one point, he was so incensed with the chants, that he decided to take some time off from the ring. 

He came back as a member of ‘The Nation of Domination’ as a heel, but again the crowd went with ‘Rocky Sucks’ chants. The Rock just took the mic, and retaliated to the crowd saying, “I am a lot of things, but sucks isn’t one of them.” And that night, a star was born.


The Rock within a year became the hottest heel in the company. The reason this needed to be told was not to highlight him being a black wrestler, but because this tells us about The Rock’s upbringing, his background, and his parents' genes that never let him feel down.

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An African-American black wrestler just like his father and grandfather, not only did Dwayne Johnson get into the wrestling business, but he also stood tall among all of them. His ethnic race, of being a Samoan wrestler worked wonders for him.

What’s The Rock’s heritage on both his parents' side?

Coming to the subject of his ethnicity, the Johnson family boasts a rich, multicultural heritage. His mother is a Samoan while his father is of Black Nova Scotian heritage, which makes him a descendant of African-Americans who left the United States along with the British, after the end of the American Revolution.

The 51-year-old wrestler also has some Irish ancestry, coming from his father’s side of the family. His paternal grandparents, James and Lilian Bowles, were both of African origin while his maternal grandparents, Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia and Ofelia ‘Lia’ Fuataga, were Samoans with a wrestling history. So, The Rock has inherited fabulous genes from his maternal as well as paternal family.

His family heritage is the reason why he has been able to accomplish nearly every milestone in his life and has overcome every roadblock with sheer determination. 

Not many people know that he lived a hand-to-mouth life, and once he even had to vacate his house with his mother, as there was an eviction notice on the door. He was even turned off from his High School football team and was under depression for some time. He was later asked to join back by his coach, a month after his rejection. However, he had moved on by then. He wanted to get into wrestling but then, his father was against it.

The Rock’s father never wanted him to get into the wrestling business

One might also not be aware of the fact that even though The Rock’s father, Rocky Johnson, was into wrestling, he never wanted The Rock to get into it. When The Rock decided not to go back to football, and get into wrestling, his father’s response was, “You’re throwing it all away.”

The Rock in one of his interviews said that he told his father, “I need you to train me or not to train me.” That’s it. He had already made up his mind to get into the ring. He wanted to follow the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and wanted to make them proud. His father then trained him, and in 1996, he made his debut as Rocky Maivia. And the rest is history.

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Johnson’s Samoan genes always made him believe that he could accomplish anything he wanted. Not just The Rock, even his cousin, Roman Reigns is today the face of the company, and the most popular wrestler of the WWE. 

Just like The Rock, even Roman Reigns had to face the crowd’s wrath for nearly 7 years, before he became a heel. Even his other two cousins, Jimmy and Jey Uso are very popular wrestlers. And who can forget, the late Edi Fatu (ring name Umaga) who too was a Samoan wrestler, but a beast during his reign.

Well, that just tells you that your roots do matter, and they do affect your thinking and way of living. You can’t erase your roots, even if you want to. 

ALSO READ: Was The Rock influenced by boxing legend Muhammad Ali? Here’s what Dwayne Johnson has to say about his WWE character

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