Gladiators cast now – blackmail plot jailing, career U-turn and bags of steroids

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Gladiators has hit the headlines this week after one of the show's former stars Jefferson "Shadow" King was jailed for taking part in a drug-fuelled blackmail plot.

Since the show ended, the cast went their separate ways and have been involved in various projects since 2000.

Iconic British series Gladiators came to an end 21 years ago, in January 2000, after introducing the likes of Wolf, Jet, Lightning and Cobra to millions of viewers.

The hit show ran between 1992 and 2000 for eight series on ITV before it moved to Sky in 2008 for two revived series.

It spawned a number of international spin-offs, including International Gladiators (with competitors from the UK, US, Finland and Russia), The Ashes (between UK and Australian contestants) and Springbok Challenge (between South African and UK contestants).

When the show returned in 2008, a new batch of Gladiators took to the arena, though the revived series was cancelled after two series.

But since the show ended, the stars of the show have shed their famous personas – apart from at reunions and fan conventions – and have turned to much more regular careers.


Michael Jefferson King, otherwise known as Shadow, has been handed a sentence of six years and three months after admitting two counts of blackmail at Isleworth Crown Court.

King was one of four people who kept a man detained in a flat in Acton, west London, for around eight hours as "highly distressing" videos were sent to Aaron Ali's family to elicit a payment of up to £1,000 to let him go.

King was alleged to have ordered a co-defendant to "fetch a hammer to break his legs" after Mr Ali tried to flee, the court heard.

A mugshot of the former fitness fanatic showed him looking near unrecognisable from his Gladiators heyday, as he sported hollowed cheeks and dead eyes.

Shadow, real name Jefferson King, starred in the original 1992 series of Gladiators.

The New York-native was then axed from the ITV show in 1995 after testing positive for steroids, which came shortly after he was caught snorting cocaine.

The 59-year-old has stayed out of the spotlight since the furore, but recently found himself at the centre of the headlines once more.

King admitted to taking part in a drug-fuelled blackmail plot, demanding £1,000 from a mother for the safe return of her son, who was allegedly held hostage by a gang.

He has since been sentenced to six years and three months in prison after admitting two counts of blackmail at Isleworth Crown Court.

A Met Police mugshot showed King looking hollow-cheeked and dead-eyed – a far-cry from his Gladiator days.


Hunter – real name James Crossley – left fans gobsmacked earlier this week when he was revealed as one of the cast members of the new season of The Circle.

He is catfishing as a nurse though, rather than playing as his more recognisable self.

The bodybuilder also reunited with fellow Gladiators stars for a photo op recently, which he shared on Instagram.

He wrote: "A reminder this week of this incredible bunch! One thing we are all agreed on is how an ageing body means training smarter.

"Listen to your body, don’t take chances and aim for pain free training with the emphasis on mobility, flexibility and time under tension or sensible strength work.

"You have to change your training goals in line with your bodies capabilities so remember, train smart."

Aside from being on The Circle, James – who is known as the Ultimate Gladiator – continues to keep fans updated on all things health and wellbeing.

He is a strength and conditioning coach, yoga teacher, gong practitioner and – as per his Instagram account – a bulldog daddy.

And more recently, James has been getting involved in helping out with Covid vaccinations at a centre near his home.


Wolf was arguably the most recognisable of them all, with viewers loving his scary bad boy persona, but after Gladiators ended, he returned to normal life.

The star – real name Michael Van Wijk – moved to New Zealand and opened a chain of gyms.

The body builder, 68, had previously run a gym in Bromley, London, which was called Matrix before he got his on-screen name, later changing it to Wolf's Fitness Centre.

He was one of the original line-up of Gladiators, taking part in all eight series between 1992 and 2000, as well as a number of the international series.

Wolf returned as the "Leader of the Pack" when the show was revived on Sky, and appeared in all episodes of series two.

In August of 2019, he appeared on Lorraine and confessed he'd been begging TV producers to bring the show back once again.

Interestingly, Davina McCall admitted she'd like to present a potential revival, giving many hope it could return.


Cobra was another of the original Gladiators who appeared in all eight series of the first run of the show.

Now, the former television personality, 57, lives a more quiet life after leaving the showbiz world.

Cobra – real name Michael Willson – became a motivational speaker in schools and youth clubs up and down the country.

Earlier this year, he revealed he was battling pneumonia in both of his lungs.

This month, he told the Guardian: "I'm just glad I haven't kicked the bucket."

He also admitted he's often be drunk on set, explaining: "I remember looking at the Wall and thinking, 'I've got to chase this guy up it and I'm bleeding drunk.'"


  • Remember Jet from Gladiators? You'll never guess what she's doing now

Jet became a huge television pin-up thanks to her side swept brunette locks and slender figure.

The trained choreographer, now 50, left the show in 1996 after she picked up a neck injury from it.

She tried to become a presenter and later trained as a psychotherapist.

The beauty – real name Diane Youdale – has popped up on television on many occasions over the years.

She's appeared on Celebrity Juice, Big Brother 's Bit On The Side between 2012 and 2014, and competed on Celebrity Pointless in 2014.

Now, she's revealed she's looking for love telling the Celebrity Catch Up podcast: "I've been single for some time. But I thought this year I may start dating because I've thought, 'I'm not going to be alone for ever'."

She said she was previously in a "wrong" relationship which caused her to ditch dating – but it sounds like she's now back on the market.


  • Remember Lightning from Gladiators? You'll never guess what she's up to now

Blonde bombshell Lightning was one of the toughest of the Gladiators, reigning supreme as the Queen of Hang Tough.

She was defeated only once in her run on the show, during the first Ashes series in Australia.

She competed in all of the UK series as well as the majority of the international versions too, as well as returning for two Legends specials as part of the 2008 revamp.

The star – real name Kim Betts, 49 – became a businesswoman after her time on the show, investing in a beauty parlour and fishery.

She also spent a decade and a half as a property developer.

Nowadays, Kim is still very much into her fitness, sharing pictures and videos of herself working out in the gym – and she's just as ripped as she was back then.


In 2017, former Gladiators star Mike Ahearne – better known as Warrior on the show – was caught with shopping bags full of steroids and CS gas canisters by police who had raided the star's home.

Liverpool Magistrates Court today heard on October 8 2020 how police raided the former star’s home in Wirral on January 23 2018, Liverpool Echo reported.

Police discovered a large stash of various anabolic steroids contained in a plastic Tesco shopping bag, another carrier bag and two boxes.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing the Class C drugs with intent to supply, but no charges were brought over the haul.

Ahearne was however charged over the CS spray and admitted three counts of possessing a weapon "designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid."

In October 2018, he was was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, at Liverpool Crown Court.

  • ITV

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