Channel24 caught up with WWE wrestler Titus O’Neil while he was on a press tour in Cape Town, ahead of the WWE LIVE South Africa tour.
The WWE LIVE South Africa tour will be taking place from 18 – 21 April, in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg.
The charismatic and well-dressed wrestler is no stranger to the Mother City and can’t stop gushing about the city’s amazing energy, food and hospitality.
“The last time I was here I swam with the sharks, and I’m interested to see what I’ll be doing this time around,” he says. Adding: “I’m looking forward to making a trek up Table Mountain before I go to Johannesburg.”
HIS LOVE FOR WRESTLING
The former American football player says he fell in love with what the wrestling business does for people.
He says: “It gives an opportunity for people who are involved with wrestling to make a living, and for fans from all walks of life the chance to come into arenas and gather in front of their TV screens.
“Our motto is to put smiles on people’s faces and we take pride in that. That’s what drives me on a weekly basis.”
Another big driving factor for the 40-year-old is being able to perform in front of people who might be dealing with real life issues and allowing them to escape their reality, even just for a little bit.
“The more fun we have as performers, the better it translates on film and the more you as a viewer can enjoy the product,” he says.
THADDEUS MICHAEL BULLARD VS TITUS O’NEIL
Titus, whose real name is Thaddeus Michael Bullard, says his character’s name is a combination of his son’s name and his favourite athlete, Shaq O’Neal.
“The first name of my character is the name of my youngest son; his name is Titus. He is 11 now, when I started he was three. And O’Neil comes from Shaq O’Neal. He has always been one of my favourite all time athletes. Not just because of how dominant he was on the basketball court but because how he was doing things in the entertainment world. He was in movies, and in music. He was signing the largest shoe contracts at the time. And the list goes on, and on,” he says.
But in the ring, we see majority of Titus’ personality, and only about 30% Thaddeus.
MAKING A FASHION STATEMENT IN THE RING
Unlike many other athletes, Titus says he doesn’t believe in any pre-fight rituals or superstitions, saying: “I wash my socks every week, and switch out my underwear.”
The only thing he consistently does before every game is figuring out which suit to wear. Which will come as no surprise to regular viewers, who always see him dressed to impress in a luxurious suit.
“I grew up poor, and even when I didn’t have much money I would always want to look good. I took the little bit that I had and tried to make a fashion statement.
“I’ve always admired athletes and entertainers who took pride in the way they presented themselves and it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to always be in a suit. I like all fashion.”
Titus adds that his oldest son shares his love for fashion, but his younger son not so much: “He will come out in some polka dot pants and a plaid shirt and be like, ‘I’m ready to go’ and myself and my oldest son would be like, ‘No you’re not.'”
When he isn’t in the ring, the wrestler does a lot of work in underserved communities, saying: “I do a lot of work in the community and giving kids the opportunity to be exposed to things they may or may not have [been exposed to] on their own.
“I’m introducing kids to the game of tennis, in partnership with United States Tennis Association. Basketball, hockey and tennis are not as accessible in underserved communities, and I want to expose the youth to that.”
TITUS THE CHEF
When he has some downtime, Titus enjoys spending time with his friends and family. He also really loves cooking, epically crab cakes.
FOR THE FANS
Titus says that he is “extremely excited” to visit Cape Town and Johannesburg, saying: “It’s an exciting time for us, and for South Africans to give us the opportunity to embrace their culture. We can’t wait to experience the hotels, the nightlife and the vibe. We’re so excited to be part of your family for a couple of days.”
18, 19 April
Grand Arena, GrandWest
Sun Arena, Time Square