Born and raised in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Cena moved to California in 1998 to pursue a career as a bodybuilder. He transitioned into professional wrestling in 1999 when he debuted for Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW) and signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) in 2000, where he was initially assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). He gained fame in WWE after adopting the persona of a trash-talking rapper and won his first singles title, the United States Championship, in 2004. The next year, he won the WWE Championship for the first time, and his character subsequently transitioned into a clean-cut “Superman-like” hero. He would go on to lead the company as its franchise player and public face for the next decade.