Who is Santino Marella? How Long Did He Work With WWE?

When the average fan thinks of pro wrestlers, they picture a muscular, chiseled man with bulging biceps. However, that is not always the case. Pro wrestlers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are shorter than most, some are older and others have unique talents outside of the ring. As a semi-retired pro wrestler from Canada, Santino Marella stands out as an anomaly in the world of wrestling; he’s not big nor small and doesn’t have bulging muscles or superpowers like many other wrestlers do.

In fact, he is a retired Judo athlete who chose to become a pro wrestler at the age of 28. Read on to learn more about Santino Marella: From a Judo Athlete to a Semi-Retired Pro Wrestler

Who is Santino Marella?

Santino Marella is a Canadian judoka and semi-retired professional wrestler. He is a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, one-time WWE United States Champion, and one-time WWE Tag Team Champion. Moreover, he is the founder of and instructor at Battle Arts Academy.

As a wrestler, Santino’s character and moves were different than most other wrestlers. He didn’t have bulging muscles, nor did he have superpowers like many other wrestlers do. Instead, he was short than average wrestler, had smaller-than-average hands, comic, and performed moves like a slap in the face and a cobra clutch.

As his popularity grew, he started playing the character of a stereotypical Italian man. He would wear tights with a pattern of the Italian flag, would carry an Italian flag to the ring and would speak in an exaggerated Italian accent.

How Old is Santino Marella?

Santino Marella was born on March 14, 1974, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. His birth name is Anthony Carelli. He is of Italian descent and grew up as an only child in a lower-income family.

As of now, he is 48 years old. His zodiac sign is Pisces. Likewise, he holds a Canadian passport and is of Italian and Métis descent.

His Education

The WWE Champion is a graduate of Concordia University. Prior to that, he attended St Basil’s Catholic Elementary School, and later Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School.

Carelli was an athletic kid. He trained in judo since he was nine. Likewise, he is two times Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association Tournament in wrestling.

Santino Marella Started Pro Wrestling in 2002

The Battle Arts Academy founder was into combat sports from a young age. He used to do since the age of 9. Likewise, he also used to compete in high school wrestling.

However, his pro debut only came in his late 20s. His first match was the Ontario independent circuit as Johnny Geo Basco. He won his debut match with disqualification. He had wrestled four matches by 2004 and also participated in mixed martial arts.

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What is It Like Being a Pro Wrestler?

Being a pro wrestler is tough work. For starters, it takes a lot of time and energy to train, diet and learn how to do what the wrestlers do in the ring. In addition, they travel a lot and are away from home for long periods of time.

Furthermore, it is a very dangerous sport and many wrestlers suffer significant injuries. As a result, many wrestlers retire at an earlier age due to injury or simply because they are no longer in the mood for the long hours and strenuous work.

Santino Marella has been lucky in that regard; he has not suffered any major injuries and has retired on his terms. He has achieved success as a pro wrestler, winning the Intercontinental Championship twice, Tag Team Championship once and United States Championship once.

Santino Marella Joined WWE in 2005

After several fights in Japan, the 31-year-old Anthony joined Ohio Valley Wrestling to train for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). His first WWE role was as Boris Alexiev, a Russian shootfighter/mixed martial artist.

Then, after a couple of matches, he signed a developmental contract with WWE on August 11, 2006. Just the following year, he won the OVW Television Championship, losing and regaining it within a couple of months.

Santino Marella thrown out of ring
Instagram @themilanmiracle

Tag Team, United States Champion and Departure (2010-2016)

Santino teamed up with Vladimir Kozlov after being rejected several times in 2010. Then, at the end of that year, the duo became Tag Team Champion after defeating The Nexus. They held the title for a couple of years before losing it to Gabriel and Slater.

Then, on August 5, he was released from WWE leading him to have a gap of a couple of months. He returned to WWE in October. Following that, he had several wins and losses, eventually, winning the United States Championship on March 5 Raw.

He held the title for around 6 months. Then, in September, he lost the title to Cesaro. In December, he suffered a neck injury and left WWE for a month. However, he was eliminated at the Royal Rumble. So, he took another two-month leave.

After a couple of wins and several losses and a third neck injury, Marella declared his retirement on July 6. He returned again in 2014 as a semi-retired wrestler. He then made several appearances throughout 2014 and 2015.

Subsequently, he was released from WWE in 2016 as he didn’t appear on WWE television on May 6, 2016.

Return to WWE (2019, 2020)

Around a year after he was released from WWE, Marella announced that he would have one last match for Destiny World Wrestling. After the match, he formally announced the end of his wrestling career.

However, it didn’t last long and he returned to WWE in 2019 at the Raw Reunion show in a backstage skit. The following year, he made a surprise appearance in the women’s Royal Rumble match. But, he eliminated himself via “The Cobra”.

Santino Marella Founded the Battle Arts Academy in 2013

Carelli along with kung fu practitioner Steven J. Wong and fitness magazine publisher Terry Frendo opened a 15,000-square-foot multi-use facility and gym in Mississauga, Ontario called ‘Battle Arts Academy‘ in September 2013.

Initially, the trio opened the academy for training MMA and pro wrestling. However, the academy hosts many other programs including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Boxing, Muay Thai, Olympic Wrestling, Group Fitness, and Personal Training.

Santino Marella with his wife and children

Santino Marella Has Been Married Twice

The two time WWE Intercontinental Champion had two marriages. His first wife was named Petrina. The couple has a daughter, Bianca.

Then, in 2015, Carelli married his second wife, Anna Babij. Anna is a fitness competitor and model. Moreover, the couple has two beautiful children; a son and a daughter.

His Daughter is Also a Wrestler

Santino Marella's daughter in a bikini

Carelli’s daughter is also part of the wrestling family. She goes by the ring name Arianna Grace. Previously, she used to wrestle for NWA, but is currently with WWE.

Santino Marella Net Worth

According to Sportslumo, Santino Marella has an estimated net worth of $1.5 million. He made the majority of his earnings from his career as a wrestler.

Similarly, he along with his two partners owns The GTA’s premier MMA/Pro Wrestling Training Facility, Battle Arts Academy. Additionally, he is the brand ambassador of Judo Canada and endorses Vitamins/supplements company, PVL.

Moreover, he and his partner Dan Garneau are the founder of Canadian junior ice hockey team, Milton Battle Arts Cobras. He has also worked as the Sportsnet 360’s analyst.

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