Kofi Kingston has looked back on his early days in WWE when he used a Jamaican accent and recalled that it was a BBC article that led to him dropping the gimmick.
Despite being born in Ghana, when Kofi Kingston debuted in WWE in 2008, he was asked to portray a Jamaican character. Speaking on Ryan Satin’s Out of Character Podcast, Kingston revealed that this wasn’t just on TV, with Vince McMahon telling him he had to do everything in character, even interviews with WWE’s own magazine. This led to the odd situation where he had to pretend to ‘get Kofi’ when people from the magazine called.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster. Initially when I came in, Vince was like ‘look, you’ve got to do everything in character, I want you to do every interview in character.’ At the time, we had WWE magazine and they would call me. I’d get a 203 number so I’d answer the phone like ‘Hello?’ ‘Yeah this is Scott Dorsey and I’m calling for Kofi, is Kofi there?’ I’m like ‘oh, yeah, he’s here, hold on.’ [Speaks in his Jamaican accent] ‘What’s going on, Kofi Kingston here, what’s up?’
“Then he’d ask me all the questions you know? It was a silly situation because you know that I’m not Jamaican and I know that you know that I’m not Jamaican but Vince said that I have to put this accent on and now we’ve got to play this game and I’ve got to interview with you with this accent on.”
Kofi Kingston went on to discuss how it was his mother who revealed to the wider world that he wasn’t actually Jamaican when she spoke to the BBC for an article on her famous son.
“15 minutes later my mom calls me and goes ‘oh Kof, some guy just called me and asked me about your career and asked if you’re Jamaican and I said no, he’s from Ghana but he’s just doing it for work…’ So now I’m like ‘Mom, kayfabe mom, kayfabe!’ It’s over. Two days later Leslie Goffe writes this article, you can go out and google it and it’s BBC. Come on man, you know this is World Wrestling Entertainment, you know there are people out here that play characters on there. The Undertaker is not a walking zombie, he’s not actually dead, he’s alive and he has kids.”
In the article, journalist Leslie Goffe wrote that Kofi Kingston was “so desperate” to become a superstar, that he was “willing to deny who he is”. Following its publication, the former WWE Champion believed that would be the end of his character, however, he was able to keep going as the Jamaican Sensation for six more months.
“So then the article comes out, talking about ‘Kofi is ashamed of his culture and heritage,’ and I was like oh my god, it’s over bro. I survived these vignettes, this terrible accent, all for this and now it’s over. I go to New Orleans, go into the office with Vince and say ‘Vince we’ve got to talk man. It’s over bro, they know, the cats out of the bag.’ He goes ‘Well, you might think that everybody knows but it’s just a small section of people that know and you’re still going to go out there and do that accent.’
“I’m like no but then six months later he calls me back into his office and says ‘yeah, I think we’re going to have you drop the accent today.’”
Kofi Kingston was then outed as not being Jamaican live on Raw during a segment with D-Generation X when he spoke in his regular accent, only for Triple H to ask “Aren’t you supposed to be Jamaican?” From then on, Kingston dropped the accent completely and was billed as being from his true birthplace of Ghana, West Africa.
H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the above transcription.