It's no secret that there are many stereotypes in pro wrestling placed on wrestlers of a certain heritage. For decades seemingly anyone of Middle Eastern descent was a heel and most often were anti-USA, especially within WWE.
When Mustafa Ali was first coming up, he tried to avoid becoming a stereotypical Middle Eastern wrestler so he wore a mask to hide who he was. But he wasn't generating much of a response so he gave in and decided to embrace being an evil character as he stated on the most recent episode of The Secret Life of Muslims.
"Several of my friends in the industry kept saying, 'You know, now is the time - you should try out doing an evil character,'" said Ali.
With that, Prince Mustafa Ali was born and Ali's bookings went up. But he never truly felt comfortable being depicted in this role as an evil foreigner and that became evident during one encounter with a young boy.
"I remember seeing a young boy, maybe six, seven years old, and as I approached the guard rail, he jumped out of his chair and he put his hands up," stated Ali. "And I remember looking into this kid's eyes and I remember seeing hate.
"And right then and there it hit me. I was like, 'Did I just teach this kid to hate people that look like me?'"
That event made Ali want to create a new character that fans would love and "Mustafa Ali" was born.
"Mustafa Ali is who I wanted to see when I was growing up," revealed Ali. "I'm not wearing anything on my head. I'm not saying anything in Arabic. I'm just gonna come out as Mustafa Ali."
Ali says many promoters were not happy with his change in character but his work in the ring won them and the fans over.
The fans' opinions on Ali being swayed was clear when he wrestled in Paris some time after the November 2015 terrorist attacks. When Ali came out for his match he was showered with boos and negative chants. But after his stellar performance, the crowd then chanted his name.
"And I remember taking a moment to realize this is what you're doing, you're changing peoples' minds," said Ali.
"There are no limitations, there are no barriers. Nothing can stop you and nothing can define you but you."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Secret Life of Muslims with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.