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Karl Gunnarsson - The Icelandic Journey

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Welcome to The Icelandic Journey, a deep look into the life of Karl Gunnarsson. In this diary, we will see the ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, and success and struggles this man went through to get to the top of the wrestling world. From a humble beginning in his small fishing town in Iceland, a risky move away from home, a beginning of a childhood dream and an unexpected career change, we will see how the man later known as the "Icelandic Ace" made himself known to people across the globe. Join us, as we go on The Icelandic Journey.

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The Early Days - Lav Tísadak Dagestav

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Karl Ari Gunnarsson was born on the 31st of May, 1999, just one year before the new millennium. He was born in the small island country of Iceland, a country of around 300,000 people located in the North Atlantic Ocean, separated from the rest of the mainland European continent. He was the offspring of Gunnar Jónsson and Kristin Ólafsdóttir. They named him Karl, gave him the middle name Ari and he took his father’s first name and adding the suffix -sson to make up his last name Gunnarsson, as is normal with male Icelandic last names.

As an only child, he and his family grew up in the tiny town of Ólafsvík. Ólafsvík is a small town on the western coast of Iceland, only consisting of about 1,000 people. It’s surrounded by a vast amount of hills and mountains, with a nice view of the ocean. Karl grew up bilingual, he spoke the national language of Icelandic and he spoke the regional language of Stólafak, which he would mainly use to communicate with his family.

His school life wasn’t very eventful, the schools he went to had the same small size, due to a small population. He wasn’t a very quiet kid, but he wasn’t a loud popular kid either. He was reserved, chill and determined to perform well in class, which is what he did. Teachers commended his work and intelligence anytime his parents met with the staff at parent-teacher meetings. He found an everlasting love of languages during his school life and learned quite a lot of English and German. He was a top class student.

But it was during this time where Karl Gunnarsson found a true passion, a passion that would lead him to become the figure that he is today. And all it took was flicking through channels on the television and stumbling upon……….WWE wrestling.

In other words, this is where the wrestling part of the story begins

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Introduction to WWE - Bjenhites af WWE

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It was around 2008 when Karl Gunnarsson started watching WWE highlights on TV. He was aimlessly flicking through the channels one day when he stumbled upon a match between Rey Mysterio and Evan Bourne from Monday Night Raw. Karl had never seen any programme like this before. This was one of his first introductions to American television, as most of the programming was local shows in Iceland. These were two small guys in wrestling terms, dazzling the audience with insane manoeuvres and dramatic false-finishes. Karl was hooked to this match.

Karl was never the tallest of kids in school. He was always close to the smaller side of his class, and the taller kids would tower over him as they walked past. So seeing these two athletes of the same small stature fighting each other and putting on a great match, it inspired him and showed him that his height didn’t matter in the long run.

This was the beginning of an everlasting love for WWE that Karl had throughout his teenage years and basically throughout his entire life. The shows would also help him improve his English, as he would listen to the commentators talking about the matches and he would listen to the wrestlers give scathing promos about other superstars who they didn’t like. Soon enough, he could follow storylines perfectly. He loved the performance side of wrestling the most. He was mesmerised by the athleticism and stamina it took to pull off some of these moves and be able to continue wrestling for a long amount of time.

His parents were always confused whenever Karl was watching WWE on TV. Of course, they had no prior knowledge of this American product and they had no idea why their son had become addicted to it. They would say things along the lines of “Vaðana tí fes dentak Ameríkak temétes?” which translates as “Why are you watching this American thing?” and he would try to explain it to them but they wouldn’t have the patience to listen to his explanation.

Nonetheless, he would watch the wrestling highlights every week and enjoy seeing all the wrestlers fighting each other. His favourite wrestlers were Evan Bourne, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston and Sheamus. He loved seeing the high flyers doing their thing week in week out, and he loved how Sheamus portrayed his Celtic roots and his nickname “The Celtic Warrior”.

But little did Karl Gunnarsson know, that this obsession would lead him to seek his first career path.

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A New Adventure - Et Níjónak Sagut

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It was soon before Karl Gunnarsson finished school. He excelled in many different subjects and his parents were absolutely delighted with him and his results. They expected such good things from their son in the future. Ever since the graduation, they thought about all the possible jobs Karl could go for. He was a talented young man.

Karl’s parents were sitting in the dining room of the house when they hear Karl walking down the stairs. He opens the door to the dining room and walks in with a nervous look on his face. His parents were wondering what was going on with him. He addresses his parents and simply says one sentence………..”Jeg vol bomer inna Tusala”, this translating as “I want to live in Germany”. His parents become even more confused. He goes on to explain his dream to become a professional wrestler and that a move to Germany would help him access the European wrestling scene and be able to follow his passion. His parents, of course, were absolutely flabbergasted by this revelation, but they were willing to listen to his reasonings. He was dead set on travelling to Germany and pursuing a wrestling career. Eventually, they came to a decision, they……………...are letting him go to Germany. They understood that this is what their son wanted and they weren’t going to stop him chasing his dreams. He thanked his parents with a relieved and happy expression on his face and started to hug them, even shedding a tear. From here, his life was in his control.

With the money he had gotten from his family and from various part-time jobs he’s had, he bought a plane ticket to Germany. He said goodbye to all his family and friends, who were sad to see him go but hoped he would be successful. He packed all the belongings he needed and set off for Keflavik Airport. From there, he boarded a plane to Frankfurt, Germany, the destination where he would start his career.

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