Michael Willson, Kim Betts & Other Stars of ITV's 'Gladiators' Then and Now
The British TV sports game show aired on Saturday nights all through the 1990s, and while its “Gladiators” became household names in the UK back in the day, most of them are leading pretty ordinary lives now.
It’s been 20 years since the UK version of the TV show “American Gladiators” was wrapped by the ITV network, but after that first taste of stardom, not many of them had the luck or the interest to stay in the entertainment business.
Most of them actually had a background in professional sports and are still in good shape despite some of them getting close to the age of 70. This is what went on in the lives of the stars from “Gladiators.”
MICHAEL VAN WIJK (WOLF)
The 67-year-old actor and bodybuilder continued to work in the fitness business, and he is still an active fighter in the New Zealand Kiwi cage-fighting scene, where he also owns several gyms and resides with his wife and four children.
Van Wijk recently told The Sun that he will be up to take part in the show if they ever bring it back, even though he is approaching the age of 70.
"I'm so fit now. I'm raring to go. I wish the producers would bring it back. It would be a great show for the family again. There's not many family shows around anymore."
-Michael Van Wijk, The Sun, August 6, 2019.
DIANE YOUDALE (JET)
The 50-year-old actress and TV host left the series in 1996 after suffering an injury in season 4, and she went on to become a psychotherapist and pilates instructor, apart from making the occasional appearance on TV.
Early this year, more than 20 years since she departed from the show, Youdale showcased her slim figure when she put on a two-piece she originally wore to film the series, and she could still fit it.
“Feeling too old or not fit enough is just a mind-set – anyone is able to exercise, regardless of age,” Youdale told Lumen as she was about to turn 50 on February 13.
MIKE LEWIS (SARACEN)
The 48-year-old former “Gladiators” star reportedly made a dramatic change of profession by becoming a firefighter after he was done with the show.
Apart from making a couple of appearances as “Saracen” from the series, Lewis more recently competed in the British TV show “Ninja Warrior UK,” pretty much inspired by “Gladiators,” but his performance wasn’t that great.
“I wanted to test my fitness, and also just to show people that age isn’t a barrier, we can all do this,” an optimistic Lewis was quoted with saying in 2015 before his run on the show, which ended very quickly as he was down by the first obstacle.
JAMES CROSSLEY (HUNTER)
The 46-year-old former “Gladiators” star briefly tried to be an actor, but later settled as a trainer and fitness consultant. He owns his own business called Chelsea Fitness.
Starting out as the youngest of the Gladiators, he went on to earn the title of Ultimate Gladiator after beating his co-stars. He famously dated show host Ulrika Jonsson, as was confirmed in 2003.
Crossley is currently dating a British TV doctor from his former network ITV, Dr. Zoe Williams, who also has a history as a Gladiator on the show.
KIM BETTS (LIGHTNING)
The 48-year-old Gymnast, bodybuilder and TV host went to become a mother in 1999, just weeks after last competing in the Gladiators arena.
Betts returned as Lightning for the 2008 reunion series, joining other “Legends” like Flame, Rocket, Ace, Hunter, and Wolf for the TV special.
Her firstborn Lexus was followed by daughter Skye, both shared with her husband Francis.
MICHAEL WILLSON (COBRA)
The 56-year-old boxer and bodybuilder continued dedicating to the fitness industry, and he worked out to the extreme that it took a toll on his health, something he went on to warn other fitness enthusiasts about.
After the series ended, Willson made some scandalous revelations, sharing that he used to drink alcohol during filming, which made it difficult for him to run around set chasing other competitors.
Willson is still recovering from a tough year since in 2019 he underwent a hip replacement surgery and was gravely ill with pneumonia.
WARREN FURMAN (ACE)
The 47-year-old former “Gladiators” star went on to find his religious call and became an evangelical Christian ministry, founding and leading the ACE (Active Christian Evangelism) Ministry which is established in York, UK.
Furman has reflected much about the luxury life he used to live at the peak of his television fame, and how humbling it was for him to lose his status once he left the entertainment business behind.
"When you've had something like that and it's taken away from you, and you're not earning a living out of it anymore, and all people want to know is daft stuff,” Furman shared with Mirror in 2019.
JEFFERSON KING (SHADOW)
The 58-year-old left the series indecorously in 1995 when he was axed for the show after testing positive for steroids.
Even though he admitted that he had “cheated himself” he continued to struggle with drug addiction for a long time.“My worst low was a few years after ‘Gladiators.’ I started doing more and more drugs and had to fund my habit by working as a manual laborer,” King revealed in 2015.
Fortunately, he seems to have worked this problem out and he is devoted to helping others that are going through the same by working at a drug rehabilitation clinic.
SHARRON DAVIES (AMAZON)
The 57-year-old swimmer and former Olympic medalist are known for the many honors received for her excellence in sports, but also for her controversial remarks.
In 2019, Davies became one of the first inductees into the Swim England Hall of Fame, but as much as she loves swimming, she complained about how her sports career didn’t provide her with a retirement plan or earned her that much money.
As a sports commentator, Davies is no stranger to controversy, and last year she was criticized for her opinions about transgender women competing in sports.
MARK SMITH (RHINO)
The 50-year-old former “Gladiators” star went on to pursue a career as an actor, with roles in films like “Batman Begins” (2005), “Argo” (2012), and “Creed” (2015). He also voiced Officer McHorn in the animated film “Zootopia” in 2016.
Smith was recently cast by actor-turned-director Idris Elba for his directorial debut “Yardie,” after sharing the screen with the actor in the 2014 film “No Good Deed.”