By Grace Smith | Broadcast Reporter
From the district of Tottenham in London to the American football field to cage fighting and now to the wrestling rink, former Baylor football player Yaw Jason Osei said trying out for the WWE was the hardest trial he’s ever been through, “period.”
The 31-year-old, 6-foot-4-inch Englishman has trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and judo.
“Boys are going to do what they want to do, and men are going to do what they have to do,” Osei said.
Before making his way to Texas, Osei played football in Helsinki, Finland, for the Helsinki Wolverines. Osei came to America in 2012 on a Baylor football scholarship where he was recruited as a defensive lineman and was then moved to the offensive line.
Osei redshirted his as a true freshman, sitting out his first year while playing on the practice squad. He then earned second-team offensive lineman for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, playing in 24 games across both years, and received Academic All-Big 12 in 2013 as well as a Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection.
But the most significant victory would be helping the Bears win the Big 12 Championship in back-to-back seasons. Osei made appearances in the Fiesta Bowl and the Cotton Bowl before continuing his football career at Texas A&M University-Commerce in 2015.
His time at Baylor was well known — he was either on the field or in the books. Osei said his fondest memories at Baylor were meeting some of his closest friends.
He said that he lives every day with the powerful lesson of accountability he learned while at Baylor.
“No matter what you do, you have to be responsible for your actions,” Osei said. “You can always try to blame somebody, but at the same time, you are going to be the one that is the benefactor of the results — whether it’s good or bad. When you start shifting blame to others, you are taking power away from yourself — the power to change something.”
Even though Osei’s time on the football field ended, he said he is not ready to be done with sports.
“In my heart of hearts, I don’t feel like I’m done yet,” Osei said. “I would have to live with that on my conscience, knowing that I quit. If I know that I have something left in the tank, then I say to myself, ‘let’s go’ and try something else and see what works.”
He is currently pursuing his career in professional wrestling, which he called an accident. Osei said that he was getting prepared for an MMA fight when he jokingly submitted an application to the WWE. He thought nothing would come of it, but in just two short weeks, the WWE contacted him and wanted him to tryout. Osei said he thought it was a scam at first. But he decided to jump at the opportunity and started to train.
Osei found success and quickly realized his new passion. He said his transition into wrestling was not easy.
“With WWE, a lot of people tend to think that it is fake per se, as they see it to be a pre-determined outcome,” Osei said. “But stuff still hurts; it takes a great toll on the body.”
Osei compared the WWE to acting, in the sense that a crucial part of the WWE is to “draw something out of the crowd.” He said the difference with acting is the crowd is not present while the actor performs in front of the cameras. With wrestling, the crowd is right there watching and wanting to see a good show. Osei said crowd involvement is the most important thing but also the most difficult.
“The best kinds of wrestlers make people believe in them,” Osei said. “It’s the coolest part about wrestling.”
Osei said a lot of people do not understand what exactly goes on behind the scenes. Wrestlers spend a lot of their time training in psychology, perfecting techniques to win over the audience. He said the goal is to draw forth emotions and storylines to get favor from the crowd.
“Doing the moves and taking the moves, that is the easiest part,” Osei said. “It’s really getting the people around you to believe in what you are doing — that is what separates a different kind of wrestler.”
Osei is excited about his new journey in this unique sport. He said that while he hopes for a successful career in the WWE, he wants to “get into coaching and start giving back to the sport if things do not work out.”
He wants to help kids realize that “they can do anything they want by putting their mind into it and working hard.”
He said that if he gives 100% effort, he will always be proud of his results.
“I didn’t make it to the NFL, but I can look back on my football career and say that I gave it 100%,” Osei said. “I gave it my all and left everything out on the table.”
Osei said he focuses on what he can control in life and puts his mind every day into getting better. He said the people who don’t find success in anything are the people who ask the question ‘what if?’
“Everyone should know that they’re in control of their own destiny,” Osei said. “Anyone can do what they want to do and sometimes just because a dream might not look like how you are envisioning it doesn’t mean you aren’t achieving the dream.”
Osei compared life to wrestling and said, “it’s a bunch of punches.” But where he said people go wrong is not understanding everyone’s power to “pick and choose” which punches to take.
The Baylor alum encouraged Baylor students to live an accountable life. He said to throw the fearful thoughts “off the table” and to put their all in everything they do.
“You might not hit the first thing but never stop and keep hitting the second thing and third thing and know what you want to do in life,” Osei said. “If you know what you want to do in life, then you will genuinely live a happy life and go on to do great things.”