Teen with Down’s Syndrome meets his hero, John Cena, after fleeing war-torn Mariupol

The WWE star and West Newbury native read about Misha Rohozhyn’s story, and “it turned immediately into, ‘We’re going.’”

West Newbury native and WWE star-turned-actor John Cena fulfilled a fan’s dream last week, meeting the young man with Down’s Syndrome after he was forced to flee violence in Mariupol, Ukraine.

Nineteen-year-old Misha Rohozhyn is non-verbal and didn’t understand why he and his mother, Liana, had to flee Mariupol earlier this year. In truth, their home was destroyed in the Russia-Ukraine war. But to help persuade Misha to make the journey across Europe to safety, Liana told him they were traveling to find the young man’s hero — John Cena.

Cena, 45, learned about the family’s situation in a Wall Street Journal article, then traveled to Amsterdam soon after to meet the teen. The two met on June 5, and the encounter was captured on video.


“[Cena] meets Misha, a teen who fled Ukraine after his home was destroyed. To motivate Misha on their journey to safety, his mother told him they were on their way to find Cena,” the WWE tweeted, along with a video from their visit.

The two-and-a-half-minute video had collected 4.4 million views as of Sunday. In the video, Cena and Misha shake hands before hugging.

“Very nice to meet you. I’ve come a long way to see you,” Cena tells the teen.

The actor was working in Europe when he heard about the family’s plight. It was an easy decision for Cena to make the trip to meet Misha.

“When I heard about Misha’s story, it reached out to me. Not just Misha’s story, but the story of Misha’s mom as well. Having three days off from work right at the time when I read this story and being an hour away by air, it turned immediately into, ‘We’re going.’”

Speaking through a translator, Misha and his family spent an afternoon eating cake and building blocks with Cena. The wrestler also let Misha wear his T-shirt and hat and gave him a replica wrestling championship belt. The pair also showed off their flexing abilities.


“Misha’s ability to embrace persistence, that’s extraordinary,” said Cena. “Those words ‘never give up’ we’ve all thought about those in our life. They’re very powerful. I think Misha and his mom are two great examples about how persistence can lead to joy, even in the toughest of times.”


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