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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Batista on His Personal Life

WORLD Wrestling Entertainment storylines defy logic. The twisted plots include terrorism, hit-and-run limos, illegitimate children, gay marriage, bogus weddings and one unfortunate episode of necrophilia.

But, by any measure, the real life of WWE superstar Batista is surreal.

Batista, 39 -- born Dave Bautista -- was raised by his mother, Donna, in poverty, in violent Washington DC.

During his childhood, three murder victims were found in, or near, Batista's front yard, in separate incidents.

"We saw some bad things," he says.

"We saw a couple of people die. There were fights all the time, stabbings were common. That's all I knew. It didn't seem out of the norm to me. Yes, there was a dead body in the alley, but I was still out there playing with my friends."

Eventually, Batista's mother moved the family to San Francisco to escape the violence. In his autobiography, Batista Unleashed, he revealed his mother was a lesbian. Today, Batista says she was a mother, a father and protector.

"I never had an issue with my mother's sexuality. She loved us, she cared for us and that's all that mattered," he says.

"She was with my dad for a small part of my life. After that, I don't remember her having anything but girlfriends.

"And I never thought of her as, 'My mom the lesbian'.

"She was Mom, an incredibly strong woman who always did her best to keep me out of trouble and keep me alive."

He says his mother's extended family disowned her, not for sexual orientation but for "being a Democrat".

Batista is a divorced father with two daughters and two grandchildren. But the trappings of fame and life on the road wrecked two marriages.

"I didn't drink or do drugs. Women were my drug of choice," Batista says.

"I would have 10, 20, 30 girls throwing themselves at me. I wasn't equipped to handle it. So I took advantage."

Incredibly, Batista admits he was shy and inept at picking up women.

"I was terrified of girls. I had only been in long-term relationships," he says.

He didn't realise he was a sex addict.

Batista's friend, the late wrestler Chris Benoit, told him it was a problem.

"I saw a lot of things out on the road -- drink and drugs," Batista says.

"I thought I didn't have any issues. I felt fortunate. Then I realised."

But Batista has changed for his children.

"I've matured. I've had to. I've grown up and learned to deal with temptations on the road," he says. "I don't want to be a bad role model to my daughters and the company depends on me. I can't be making a fool of myself.

"I don't have a lot of regrets in my life and I haven't been an angel. But if I could change anything, it'd be the chapter with all the women. It hurt the people I love."

Batista -- known in wrestle-speak as a face (hero) -- is a three-time world heavyweight champion.

Lately, the WWE storyline has him feuding with Shawn Michaels. Last week, Batista wheeled a defeated Michaels from the arena on a stretcher.

He had to. It was a so-called stretcher match. Still, beyond the silliness, Batista says the aim is to have an audience suspend its disbelief.

"We don't take our audience for fools. They know it's entertainment," he says.

"What makes it challenging for us is to get them to suspend their disbelief and draw them into the match. We want them sucked in, on their feet and trying to anticipate the next move."

Yet, despite his standing as one of the WWE's biggest brands, Batista still struggles with an industry must -- bragging on the microphone.

"I don't want to compare myself to Superman, but I'm like Clark Kent," Batista says with a smile.

"In real life, I am the quiet guy trying to hide. In the ring, I'm the complete opposite. Intense, aggressive and quite happy to steal the show."

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