In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to 31-stone wrestler Mike 'The Bulk' Waters. As one half of world champion tag team The UK Pitbulls, Mike is known for his scary persona, but outside the wrestling ring he reveals a different side.
In her latest Face to Face interview, KAREN BETHELL talks to
31-stone wrestler Mike 'The Bulk' Waters. As one half of world champion tag team The UK Pitbulls, Mike is known for his scary persona, but outside the wrestling ring he reveals a different side...
Bullied as a youngster because of his weight, Mike, whose parents Stan and Pam ran a residential care home for the elderly at Sheringham, spent his early teens being home tutored.
But the name-calling had taken its toll, and it wasn't until he began playing drums with a local band at the age of 14 that he began to regain confidence.
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He finished his education at Peel House School at Cromer and, aged 16 and weighing 40 stone, was admitted to hospital with deep-vein thrombosis.
After recovering, and being treated for a newly-diagnosed pituitary gland problem, Mike decided to join older brother Dave on the wrestling circuit.
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After a stint working the holiday camps, the pair, who christened themselves the UK Pitbulls, went on to win title after title, travelling to contests as far afield as Austria, Switzerland, Mauritius, France and the United States.
Titles they now hold include the World Association of Wresting tag team championship, with Mike also holding the WAW British heavyweight title.
He and Dave - a former Britain's Strongest Man runner-up - have also appeared on TV shows including the cult comedy, Dirty Sanchez, and Celebrity Wrestling Extra, which saw Mike take part in a thumb-wrestling bout with presenter Jack Osbourne.
Mike, 29, now divides his time between wrestling and playing with local bands Insaniac, Glam Horrific and pop punk group Spot, with whom he has played drums for 12 years.
A strict vegetarian, Mike, whose dream is to be a rock star, enjoys spending his spare time with his family and partying.
What is the best thing about your job?
That would have to be travelling all over the world and getting paid to be there.
And the worst?
Wrestling is a big commitment, and it can be difficult being away home. Eleven years of wrestling has taken its toll physically, and I would like to cut back a bit now and settle down and have a family.
What is the one thing you would save if your house was on fire?
My signed CDs and posters of my favourite band, The Wildhearts. I've been a fan since 1994 and I've seen them play live 36 times.
Where do you go to unwind?
To my bedroom to listen to CDs. Music is a massive part of my life, and I couldn t live without it.
What is your proudest moment?
When my mum and dad saw me wrestle for the first time. They take us to shows and have supported us all the way through. I also felt pretty proud when the guitarist from my favourite band came up to me and told me I was an awesome drummer!
And your greatest achievement?
Being one of Britain's most successful tag teams and wrestling some of the big-name Americans we idolised when we were younger is a good feeling.
Whom do you most admire?
That would be Ginger, the frontman for The Wildhearts. In my opinion, he's the best British songwriter of the last 20 years, and possibly ever.
What is your favourite Norfolk building?
McDonald's near Norwich Airport!
Have you ever done anything outrageous?
Yes, but nothing you could put in print!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing physical. I like being a big guy and,
apart from the fact that I haven't learned to drive as I can't fit in the instructor's car, it hasn't hindered me in any way. I do tend to over-analyse things, though, and I think I am too emotional. I just get carried away - which I suppose isn t always a bad thing.
Do you have any fears or phobias?
Being trapped under ice, spiders... and beetroot: I just hate the taste of it and I hate the way it looks.
What makes you angry?
Violence against women and judgmental people. We get a lot of emails from kids who are being bullied, and I think that, when your confidence takes one blow, it's pretty easy to take another and another. I just tell them to rise above it, concentrate on family and friends and believe in themselves.
Your favourite book, film and TV programme?
My favourite film is Return of the Jedi; my favourite book is a biography of the band, Motley Crue; and on TV I love Spaced (Channel 4 comedy) as I can definitely relate to that kind of lifestyle.
How would you like
to be remembered?
As being larger than life!