Mustafa Ali , born Adeel Alam is a WWE superstar noted for his high flying moves and quick rise to fame in the pro wrestling industry. He worked as a full time police officer and wrestled part-time, until one day he got his big break with the WWE brand. He extensively uses his platform to shatter negative stereotypes about Muslims, and inspires hope in audiences to follow their dreams. Mustafa Ali has a success story about resilience, patience, passion, and purpose.
A native of Chicago, Ali was born the son of a Pakistani father and an Indian mother. He’s also a practicing Muslim. What that has typically meant throughout history for aspiring wrestlers like Ali was that to get hired and gain attention, one must be a villain (think Muhammad Hassan or the Iron Shiek) who plays up the negative stereotypes that often surround how South Asian and Middle Eastern people are viewed in the United States.
It’s a reality that Ali, who started on the independent scene at age 16, knows too well.
“I’m a kid who is trying to chase his dream, and the first decision I have to make is do I cave in to these preconceived notions about what a guy that looks like me and has a name like mine is supposed to be in the world of pro wrestling,” Ali told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast. “It was a very weird time for me because I was in high school when 9/11 happened and I immediately felt the disconnect that I’m not one of us. I was born and raised in Chicago but somehow felt very alienated.”
Ali was a cop in Homewood, IL a south suburb of Chicago. He competed in local wrestling matches while saving lives as a police officer. “There is plenty of misconceptions and opinions out there. What I want to do is strip away all the notions and all the preconceived ideas. I want people to know there is no difference between you and I. We are all the same and we all bleed the same blood. We all have the same soul and same organs. My message to everyone is that we truly are one and the minute you see me as the person, not just as the Muslim — when you see me as Adeel Alam and not just the character on TV — when you see past all of that, we are all the same and we are all just one. That’s my message, that’s my goal and that’s my motto.”
As a rising star in pro wrestling, Adeel Alam ditched his bad guy “Arab” image and decided to become the hero he wanted to see as a kid. Today, millions of fans have cheered on the WWE wrestler known as Mustafa Ali. In this episode of The Secret Life of Muslims, Adeel explains just how significant his character is in the wrestling world.