From gospel choirs to jail terms: What happened to the orginal Gladiators?

12 January 2024, 13:46

Gladiators was a hit show in the 1990s
Gladiators was a hit show in the 1990s. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

By StephenRigley

Gladiators is making a comeback.

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The series, which ran for eight seasons from 1992 to 1999, and was presented by Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu. saw two contestants take part in gruelling fitness challenges against the Gladiators.

Tomorrow it will be returning to our screens this January with a whole new line-up of Gladiators ready to take on the challengers.

But what happened to the original Gladiators?

At its peak Gladiators was watched by more than 14 million people
At its peak Gladiators was watched by more than 14 million people. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

Lightning - Kim Beets

Kim was known as the Queen of Hang Touch, Lightning starred from season one to season eight. Since leaving the show, Kim has became an entrepreneur and currently lives a farm life with her husband and their children.

She has kept up with fitness and was crowned IBFA Miss Universe in 2020.

Amazon - Sharron Davies MBE

Sharron only appeared in one season of Gladiators and is better-known for her sporting talents. The Olympic-swimmer was awarded an MBE in 1993 for her services to swimming. Recently she has been outspoken of the impact on transgender athletes on womens sport.

Panther - Helen O’Reilly

Despite only starting going to the gym at 27, Helen O'Reilly, known as Panther became a talented bodybuilder whose awards include: Miss Central Britain, Miss Europe, Miss North Britain, Miss England, Miss World, Miss Great Britain, Miss Russia and Miss Universe.

In season three she suffered serious neck and back injuries but returned in season five. She runs Panther's Gym in Uxbridge.

Jet. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

Jet - Diane Youdale

One of the most famous stars to come out the show. Diane was a trained choreographer, she joined when she was 22 years old, starring on four seasons from 1992 to 1996.

She had to leave in series four after suffering an accident during a live show at Wembley Arena, and went on to present TV and radio shows for the BBC, ITV and Sky and to train as a psychotherapist.

Last summer she married fiancee Zoe Gilbert in a secret ceremony after they had met in a supermarket.

In season three she suffered serious neck and back injuries but returned in season five. She runs Panther's Gym in Uxbridge.

Falcon - Bernadette Hunt

Last March she died aged 59 after battling cancer for "a number of years".

Paying tribute her sister's partner Rick Jango said she was one of "the loveliest people" he knew.

He said: "I had the privilege to be in her company a few times and I have to say she was one of the most loveliest people I have ever met.

"She never had a bad word to say about anyone, indeed she was always known as the nicest Gladiator, always stopping to speak and sign autographs for anyone."

Nightshade. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

Nightshade - Judy Simpson

Former British heptathlete Judy competed at three Olympics and won medals at another three Commonwealth Games.

She was also awarded an MBE because of her sporting achievements.

After Gladiators the 60-year-old continued to work in the fitness industry.She suffered tragedy in 1999 when her baby daughter Joan Mary died of meningitis.

Zodiac - Kate Staples

Kate Left the show in season five after suffering a serious injury but became a champion pole-vaulter breaking over 29 British and Commonwealth records.

She has a daughter Ella, whose dad is former Gladiator Trojan – and who counts Jet as her godmother.

Wolf. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

Wolf - Michael Van Wijk

Michael owns a gym called 'Wolf's Gym' in Auckland, New Zealand where he now lives.

He had owned gyms previously before finding fame on Gladiators.Following his time on the show, he became a regular on the Kiwi Cage Fighting scene and also used to compete at national level in Jiu Jitsu championships, according to a 2008 Loaded article.

Ace - Warren Furman

Warren turned her back on showbusiness, finding God and now runs a Gospel choir in York, where he lives with his wife and two children .

Speaking previously, he said: "I used to worship myself, I thought I was fantastic. I have now turned to God's grace. I am a Gladiator of the gospel.

"You'll never know God until you change your direction and so I realised this. It was great, we had loads of money and women, but I realised I had to change".

Cobra - Michael Willson

Now living in the West Midlands, Michael spends his time making watercolour paintings.

He also travels to schools and youth clubs up and down the UK, promoting that keeping fit can be fun. 

A few years ago, Michael admitted that he was often drunk on the show telling the Guardian: "I remember looking at The Wall and thinking, 'I've got to chase this guy up it and I'm bleeding drunk".

Shadow - Jefferson King

In 2021 Jefferson was jailed for six years and three months after admitting taking part in the drug-fuelled plan to kidnap a child over a debt.

He was axed from Gladiators in 1995 after testing positive for steroids, and he's battled substance abuse issues in the years since.

Hunter. Picture: ITV/Shutterstock

Hunter - James Crossley

James is a Strength & Conditioning Coach and Gong Practitioner, often sharing an insight into his healthy lifestyle via social media.

In 2021, he spoke to MailOnline about how he has turned his skills to yoga in a bid to age "pain free", while his girlfriend Arianna is also a yoga teacher.

He is also a “fit at 40” ambassador with his DVD “fit at 40 plus” available on Amazon.

He’s a keen musician and has two adorable bulldogs.

Saracen - Michael Lewis

Michael swapped his spandex for fire gear as he is now a firefighter following years in the ring.  

However, he still appears on TV from time to time, such as Sport Relief and This Morning and has returned to our screens for ITV's series Ninja Warrior.

Warrior - Michael Ahearne

Michael became involved in a drug gang led by Curtis Warren and ended up being sentenced to prison.

Soon after his release he was arrested again in Jersey in 2007 for conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the country and received a 13 year prison sentence.

In 2020, it was reported by the Liverpool Echo that he was caught with bags full of steroids and CS spray canisters, he was sentenced to six months, suspended for 12 months.

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