Professional wrestlers almost always use stage names, most likely to sound cooler, badder, and tougher. This is obvious because nobody gives birth to a child and then says, "I think I'll name him Triple H."
This trend carries over into other sports as well. Typically, when athletes that compete in sports outside of wrestling change their names, they aren't as ridiculous as the names that pro wrestlers are given. Except that one time Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco as a tribute to his jersey number, 85, just to change his name back to Johnson less than a decade later.
There are benefits to this, mostly privacy related benefits. For instance, you can book hotels under your real name without people calling up to your room in the middle of the night. A common occurrence for athletes and entertainers.
Sometimes nicknames become so cemented on people, including athletes, that others simply forget the birth name entirely.
In some cases, professional athletes real first names don't translate well from civilian lives into their new lives as superstars. Kevin Ferguson won six of his seven professional boxing matches by knockout. He's a legend of both MMA fighting and boxing. There isn't anything wrong with the name Kevin Ferguson, but the name Kimbo Slice is much better suited to a professional fighter.
Other times, athletes take on fake names because they are clean and simple, like OJ, Magic or Bo. Chad Pennington, the former quarterback for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins has a very practical reason for going by Chad instead of James, his birth name. Pennington's middle name is Chadwick, meaning that in all likelihood, he would have been nicknamed J.C. Penny.
Here are the top 15 players who use fake first names.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento is the real name of perhaps the greatest football player of all-time. Pele admits he has never liked the nickname that the world knows him by. He says that a classmate came up with it. His dislike for it was so severe that he punched the classmate who came up with it. He thought it was an insult. Pele earned a two-day suspension from school.
He only later learned that the word means miracle in Hebrew.
The name Pele has come to represent a person within him. Separate from Edson, the person he is in his personal life. His parents used to call him Dico, just to add to the confusion.
14 Kimbo Slice
Kimbo Slice's real name is Kevin Ferguson.
Kimbo is his nickname from childhood. The Slice part came from fans of his early internet fighting videos. He received it after leaving a big cut on the right eye of an internet opponent named Big D, another fantastic name for a fighter...
Slice began his career in 2003, fighting in backyards and recording it to be uploaded to the internet. Needless to say, he did well and earned enough popularity to translate into a more structured work setting.
13 Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz's real name is Jacob. A name he would give his oldest son.
Tito was a nickname given to Ortiz by his father when he was an infant. It means tyrant. In Greek, it means of the giants. I'm sure Tito think this is fitting. It's almost like he knew his son would one day hold several UFC Light Heavyweight title records and be elected a member of the UFC Hall of Fame.
12 Boomer Esiason
Norman Julius Esiason was named after his father, Norman, but he has never been addressed by the name.
Boomer earned his nickname in the womb. Unlike many other people who were given their nicknames by friends, Boomer was given his nickname by his mother. Why Boomer? He kicked so much in the womb. The name stuck through three years at the University of Maryland and 14 years in the NFL.
Today, Esiason works as a sports broadcaster and still uses the name Boomer.
The former FIFA World Player of the Year was given his world famous nickname "Kaka" by his younger brother. Digao could not pronounce his brother's real name, Ricardo. Kaka's full name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. Digao did every sports broadcaster in Orlando, where Kaka will now play, a huge favor by simplifying things. However, he might have hurt his older brother though, as his nickname is pronounced exactly like another word that might get you picked on in school.
10 Muggsy Bogues
Muggsy Bogues is actually Tyrone Curtis Bogues. However, hroughout Bogues 14 season NBA career, he was known as "Muggsy."
The name was coined due to Bogues basketball career. In high school, Bogues earned his nickname, "Muggsy," as a reference to the physical style of play he adopted to make up for his height restrictions. At 5'3," Muggsy was considered by many to be too small to play in the NBA. His demeanour as a point guard would help him break hight barriers.
9 Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson lead the Los Angeles Lakers through one of the most exciting and storied times in franchise history. While doing this on the court, off the court, Johnson also became one of the biggest media stars in sports, partaking in multiple business ventures and becoming one of the most predominant health activists in the country, challenging discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDs.
Magic needed a name that suited his personality, demeanor and abilities. His birth name, Earvin, simply didn't cut it.
8 Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace is an odd name choice (yes, he picked it himself) for a dude that can be unreasonably violent. Like the time he elbowed James Harden in the face, causing a concussion. Or that time he was involved in the Malace at the Palace.
World Peace was born Ron Artest but his name change was "meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world." The English translation of Metta World Peace is “Loving Kindness World Peace.”
Earlier this year, World Peace has signed a one-year deal worth $1.43 million US to play for the Sichuan Blue Whales in China. Shortly after this, he decided to change his legal name yet again. This time to "The Panda's Friend."
7 P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban is almost never referred to by his real name, which is Pernell Karl. Subban's father says that “My wife was reading one of those movie magazines,” Karl said. “We saw the name Pernell Roberts, you know the guy who [portrayed Adam Cartwright] on Bonanza? We immediately liked the name.”
Karl comes from his father Karl if you didn't pick up on that already.
Apparently P.K. didn't agree and favors nicknames. According to Subban, his Montreal Canadiens don't call him P.K. He says most of the guys call him Sizzle. He says he would prefer to be called Subbanator, but they won't. Subban says the only person that calls him Subbanator or Subbatron is former teammate Colby Armstrong, who's now playing in Europe.
6 Eli Manning
Peyton and Eli is a quiet, reserved guy living in the busiest city in the world. He's won two Super Bowls. Both against a mega star in Tom Brady. So life's pretty crazy for the prive Eli Manning. Luckily for him, most probably wouldn't question the name Eli and that's the way Eli Manning likes it.
The New York Giants quarterback was born "Elisha," a Hebrew name. Although, Elisha is traditionally a male name, today it is considered a feminine name in North America.
5 Matthew Stafford
Matthew sounds like a perfectly normal name for a 26-year-old male born in Tampa, Florida. The Detroit Lions quarterback's was given the name "John" at birth. However, his father's name is also "John" so Stafford elected to go by his middle name,"Matt" to avoid confusion.
He went by Matthew throughout his youth and continues to use that name today.
4 Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay's actual name is Harry Leroy "Roy" Halladay III. Quite a mouthful.
He also goes by the nickname “Doc,” a nickname given to him by Toronto Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek, in reference to Wild West character "Doc" Holliday.
But why Roy instead of Harry? Reportedly Halladay just never responded to the name Harry during childhood. Not even on his first day of school when his teacher was taking roll call.
3 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
The NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn't actually named after his famous NASCAR legend father, as Dale is his middle name. Using it is has likely been key in securing lucrative sponsors like Budweiser. It is also a nice tribute to his father, who died in a last-lap crash while driving in the 2001 Daytona 500.
His full name is Ralph Dale Earnhardt, Jr, as he was named after his grandfather NASCAR driver Ralph Earnhardt.
2 Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson's real first name is Vincent. His middle name is Edward. He was named after his mother's favorite actor, Vince Edwards.
Throughout his careers in the MLB and NFL, Jackson was always referred to as "Bo," a name he picked up in his childhood. As a child, Vincent was wild and constantly getting into trouble. His seven siblings called him "Wild boar."
Later, they dropped the wild and the -ar.
1 O.J. Simpson
O.J. is one of the most notorious names in sports. The running back's football career, which includes induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is overshadowed by the murder trial of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, which is dubbed the "trial of the century." OJ was charged with the murder of Brown Simpson and Goldman, after both were found dead outside Brown's condo. He was found not guilty.
When you say O.J. people know you are either talking about O.J. Simpson or orange juice.
Today, O.J. goes by inmate 02648927 at the Lovelock Correctional Center. He's serving time for kidnapping and armed robbery. O.J.'s real name is Orenthal. Apparently, his aunt named him after a French actor.
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