Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Magnus pays a visit to Ilford
- Credit: Archant
Take 5,000 calories, two gym sessions and hordes of die hard fans booing and cheering in equal measure – otherwise known as the daily grind for a professional wrestler at the top of his game.
Nick Aldis, otherwise known as Magnus, has been chokeslamming and powerbombing his way up the ladder at American outfit TNA for the past five years.
His hard work, patience and perseverance finally earned him the ultimate prize a fortnight ago as he was crowned World Heavyweight Champion – the first Brit to earn that accolade for any major US wrestling organisation.
The 27-year-old, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, dropped into the Recorder office as he began his reign – ending a 108-year wait for a British champion.
“I never thought I’d be the first to be honest, because there’s so many great wrestlers to have come from Britain before me,” he said.
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“It’s impossible to say why no one has done it before, but I think TNA have really embraced and understood the strength of the UK fans.
“Without a question the fans here are the most vocal and receptive in the world now and rather than shy away from that, we’re absolutely embracing that.
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“I happened to be the right guy at the right time, that’s how the business works.”
The line of Brits stepping into the American squared circle is a long one, with household names such as The British Bulldog and William Regal thrown in there.
TNA, the main rival to Vince McMahon’s WWE, has built a strong fan base in the UK and regularly dwarves its rivals in the television ratings – as it does in other countries such as India, Germany and South Africa.
For Nick, the call came five years ago after his stint as Oblivion on the re-boot of Gladiators on Sky One. Though, he believes there may have been some confusion over the kind of show he was coming from.
“I was getting a tonne of profile at time and I think they wanted to run with it. I don’t think the creative team at the time ever saw the show and I think they thought I was on something like Gladiator the movie.
“So they thought ‘oh we’ll have him wear this leather thing and this stupid helmet’, but luckily it was enough to get my foot in the door and from there I did the rest.”
He began his career at small, independent promotion called WAW, in Norwich, and then on to a weekly school in Purfleet called the Dropkixx Academy where he met WWE star Wade Barrett.
He says he had an affiliation for body building from the age of 12, taking inspiration for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He admits to loving nothing more than some morning cardio work followed by an afternoon of punishing weight training.
It’s this love of all things fitness that have helped him adapt to live in the States, where he says life is far more easy going and much less constricted by filling in forms and red tape.
“I never wanted to compete as a body builder, but loved the training and diet,” he said.
“It’s got better in my local area, but the amount of gyms I’ve come back to in recent years and have been asked ‘have you had an induction?’
“I’m like ‘look at me, does it look like I need an induction?’ In America, it’s just sign this form and off you go. Over here, everything is so difficult.”
On February 1, Magnus will lead a roster of top wrestling stars, including Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy and James Storm as they return to Wembley Arena once again.
For Nick, it’s the closest he’ll come to a home town show and he compares it to playing New York’s Madison Square Gardens.
“I think we’re a while away from an arena in Norfolk, but playing Wembley is incredible.
“For Brits, it’s the equivalent of playing Madison Square Gardens – it’s the best venue and the one that you really look forward to.”
TNA Impact Wrestling airs at 9pm on Sundays on Challenge, with TNA Xplosion on at 11pm on Wednesday.
For tickets to see Magnus in action next month, visit impactwrestling.com.