Scotland

Drew McIntyre aiming to be Scotland's first WWE champion

Drew McIntyre wrestling Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Drew McIntyre (right) has built up a huge trans-Atlantic following on his way to the top of the sport

Wrestling superstar Drew McIntyre is just one bout away from becoming Scotland's first WWE world champion.

The 34-year-old from Ayrshire earned his title shot after becoming the only Brit to win the sport's Royal Rumble.

He will take on champion Brock Lesnar when he headlines the Wrestlemania event in Florida on 5 April.

And the Rangers fan who swapped boys' football in Prestwick for pro-wrestling in the USA says he will "do it for Scotland".

McIntyre told BBC Scotland's The Nine he was determined to make history in wrestling's biggest show of the year.

He said: "Wrestlemania is our World Cup, it's our FA Cup final.

"There will be 80,000 people there and I have a guaranteed world title match.

"I was the first ever Scottish guy to win the Royal Rumble, the first every British guy to win it and hopefully I'll be the first ever Scottish world champion."

Image caption Drew McIntyre has vowed to lift the world title for Scotland

McIntyre, who used the surname Galloway during his early career, has built up a huge following in the US and UK during two stints on the main WWE Raw roster.

But his rise to fame was less than predictable.

He said: "Everyone at my school was into football and I grew up pretending to be Ally McCoist. I was always fighting to make sure I got that McCoist number nine shirt.

"I was decent - not great - but in the back of my mind, wrestling was always the goal. Even though to everyone else it seemed unattainable given that no-one from Scotland had ever been signed."

Any early dreams of becoming a footballer were quickly forgotten when McIntyre started training to become a professional wrestler as a teenager.

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Media captionDrew McIntyre on life as a pro-wrestler

He said: "I started training in Portsmouth when I was 14 - travelling 12 hours each way to get to sessions.

"I was signed to WWE aged 20, went to America, and I've been here ever since."

The aspiring wrestler was supported by his parents on the condition that he continued with his studies.

McIntyre agreed and went on to gain a Masters degree in criminology from Glasgow Caledonian University before moving permanently across the Atlantic.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rangers fan McIntyre wanted to be a footballer before discovering wrestling

The 6ft 5in Scot, whose trademark moves are called The Claymore and The Glasgow Kiss, is now one of the most recognisable faces and names in WWE.

He said: "This has always been the dream, always been the goal, so I can't imagine doing anything else right now. It's awesome.

"Everyone has their own impression of wrestling if they don't watch it. But when you get involved and get an appreciation for wrestling, you'll see it's not easy.

"It's got one take, we're going out there in front of a live audience, we're doing our own stunts, we're trying to control our emotions and it's my version of art. It's the funnest thing in the world as far as I'm concerned."

Legendary names

McIntyre is quick to credit some of wrestling's legendary names with extending the global reach of his sport.

He said: "Seeing someone like The Rock going off and showing the world what we are capable of and becoming a top box office attraction is really cool.

"And I'm hoping people in Scotland and the UK give Wrestlemania a chance because they're going to be absolutely hooked. There's something for everybody. But more importantly, I'm there in the main event and I'm going for the title."

He delivers his title prediction in the self-confessed "twangy" accent developed after more than 10 years in the States.

Still fiercely proud of his Ayrshire roots, he said: "We have the most difficult accent in the world to understand and I had to adjust it slightly because I was sick of hearing 'what?' for the first four years I was here.

"I need the world to understand me when I'm champion, raise the title and say, I bloody did it for Scotland."

Wrestlemania 36 will be staged in McIntyre's adopted home city of Tampa, Florida, on 5 April. It will be televised on the pay-per-view channel BT Sport Box Office.

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