Hassan Hamin Assad is an American professional wrestler and rapper formerly affiliated with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He is more popularly known by his ring name Montel Vontavious Porter and its acronym MVP. Assad had a turbulent childhood; he joined a gang at the age of 12 and later served multiple sentences for robbery and kidnapping. After his release, he began to train under former professional wrestlers Soulman Alex G and Norman Smiley. In 2002, he made his wrestling debut in the independent circuit. He worked for various small promotions in the early years of his career, including Full Impact Pro (FIP) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). Assad signed with WWE in 2005 and had his first match on SmackDown in October 2006. In the next four years, he had a moderately successful career with the promotion, winning multiple championships. He was released in 2010 and has since then gone back to the independent circuit. He had also wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Lucha Underground. Besides his illustrious professional wrestling career, Assad has acted in a few films and released several hip-hop tracks.
Childhood & Early Life
Montel Vontavious Porter was born as Alvin Antonio Burke Jr. on October 28, 1973 in Liberty City, a neighbourhood in Miami, Florida to parents Alvin Antonio Burke Sr. and Lynne Magruder. Burke Sr. was a police officer and Magruder was a call centre employee.
His mother raised him by herself in the impoverished neighbourhood of Opa-locka in Florida. In the absence of their father, Alvin served as the father figure to his two younger brothers, Brad and Justin.
At the age of 12, he joined a group which he later described as a graffiti gang. However, they soon turned into a street gang and he was involved in some serious criminal activities. He was arrested for robbery when he was still a teenager and served six months at a juvenile detention centre.
On January 14, 1990, Burke and two others robbed $81,470 from the casino of the Discovery I cruise ship. While his accomplices were immediately caught, Burke evaded arrest. His father eventually phoned him and advised him to surrender. He pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and kidnapping and was sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison.
He underwent a drastic transformation in the prison. He converted to Islam and changed his name to Hassan Hamin Assad. He was released after serving nine and a half years of his sentence.
Assad met correction officer Daryl Davis at the Opa-locka Work Release Center. Davis, who moonlighted as “Primetime” Daryl D in the independent circuit, introduced Assad to the world of professional wrestling and gave him the initial training after his release from prison.
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Career & Later Life
Assad’s first professional trainers were Soulman Alex G and Norman Smiley. He made his debut in the independent circuit in 2002 under the ring name Antonio Banks. In those early three years of his career, he worked for FIP, TNA, Future of Wrestling (FOW), and Ring of Honor. At FOW, he won the FOW Tag Team Championship with Punisher, registering the first title victory of his career.
In 2005, he began wrestling in dark matches and live events for WWE. He subsequently signed a developmental contract with the promotion and was sent to their developmental territory Deep South Wrestling to hone his skills. In the beginning, he still used Antonio Banks as his ring name but that changed as he developed the in-ring character of Montel Vontavious Porter or MVP as a fully-fledged professional wrestling personality. Brash and narcissistic, MVP was partially based on Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character Rod Tidwell in ‘Jerry Maguire’ (1996).
On WWE’s SmackDown brand, he made his debut as MVP on August 4, 2006. He was billed as a coveted free agent. In his first match for the promotion, he fought and defeated Marty Garner at the 2006 No Mercy event. MVP thrived as a heel, portraying a caricature of all overpaid, arrogant, and self-obsessed athletes.
Soon, he got into a feud with Kane and registered successive wins against the veteran wrestler in a street fight, a steel-cage match, and a tag team match where his partner was Mr. Kennedy and Kane’s was his storyline brother The Undertaker, before losing to him in an inferno match at the 2006 Armageddon.
His storyline with Chris Benoit was one of the highlights of his career. He lost to Benoit in his first WrestleMania appearance on April 1, 2007, and again at the 2007 Backlash. He eventually registered a win against the Canadian wrestler in a two out of three falls match at the 2007 Great American Bash and became the WWE Tag Team Champion.
Following the feud with Matt Hardy, he was drafted to the Raw brand in 2009. He was involved in short-lived feuds with The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. His last match on WWE, which aired on 3 December, was a tag team match against Ziggler and Drew McIntyre. Partnered with Kaval, he would lose the bout and was subsequently released from his contract with the promotion.
In the ensuing years, MVP has had a successful career with NJPW, TNA, and Lucha Underground. He is currently still active in the independent circuit.
He was part of the cast of the 2010 action comedy ‘MacGruber’. Besides him, Chris Jericho, The Great Khali, Big Show, Kane, and Mark Henry also made appearances in the film.
His first hip-hop track ‘Holla to the World’ was released in June 2011. Fellow professional wrestlers Carlito and Hernandez appeared in the music video for the track. He released his second single ‘Tokyo’ on March 18, 2013, and third single ‘Return of the Ronin’ on January 30, 2014. He has since used ‘Return of the Ronin’ as his TNA entrance theme.
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During his tenure at WWE, MVP had several memorable feuds. However, his greatest achievements were unarguably against Matt Hardy. The storyline was intriguing, engaging, and maintained its dramatic flair right till the end. After defeating Chris Benoit to become the WWE Unites States Champion, he successfully defended his title against Hardy at the Great American Bash in 2007.
As the story progressed, Hardy defeated him in an arm wrestling contest and MVP was knocked out by former boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
MVP and Hardy teamed up in August 2007 to win the Tag Team Championship but throughout their reign, MVP played a heel, reiterating that he was so good that he could have won the championship with anyone in the roster. They would eventually be defeated by the team of The Miz and John Morrison on November 13, 2007. The feud would continue for five more months before concluding at the 2008 Backlash. MVP dropped his United States title to Hardy after reigning for 343 days as a champion.
Awards & Achievements
MVP is a two-time WWE United States Champion. He won it for the first time on May 20, 2007 and once more on March 17, 2009.
He is also a one-time WWE Tag Team Champion. He and his partner Matt Hardy won the title on August 28, 2007.
At NJPW, he was the inaugural IWGP Intercontinental Champion, winning the title on May 15, 2011.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter named him the Most Improved Wrestler in 2007 and the Most Underrated Wrestler in 2008.
Assad has a son with a woman with whom he had been previously in a relationship.
In August 2007, the doctors told him that he had a condition named Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome, a rare disorder that makes a patient’s heart beat faster than normal, when he had gone for the routine check-up in accordance with WWE's Talent Wellness Policy.
Over the years, Assad has used several finishing moves, both as MVP and Antonio Banks. He currently uses Playmaker (a variation of Overdrive) or Drive-By-Kick (a variation of Big Boot or Yakuza Kick).
Despite his conversion to Islam, Assad considers himself an atheist.