We delve into what happened to the scary bodybuilder once he quit the classic nineties show

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Claws out

Contenders… ready! Gladiators… ready! And that’s the phrase you’ll have stuck in your head for days now. You’re welcome. Back in the 90s, Gladiators was the show that had people dressed in silly Lycra outfits battling against bodybuilders in even sillier Lycra outfits as they proved their strength and agility. And star of the show was bad boy Gladiator Wolf. He got booed whenever he came out to challenge, say, Terry from Milton Keynes on a climbing wall – but he was totally the best Gladiator going. So what happened to the original baddie from the show?

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Back in the day

Wolf’s real name is Michael Van Wijk. Born in Mumbai in 1952, he moved to the UK and got into bodybuilding, also auditioning for acting roles. He gained his ‘Wolf’ persona after auditioning for a part in Dances With Wolves. He didn’t get the role, but the rest was history. He also starred in a Strongbow advert and was in a film called Salome’s Last Dance.

Gladiators… ready

On getting the Gladiators job 
in 1992, he said: ‘I heard on the radio they were looking for gladiators. I sent a picture in with my application, which was from the cover of a computer game called Barbarian. Page Three girl Maria Whittaker is holding onto my leg and I’m bare chested, wearing a loincloth and fur boots, with 
a big sword and looking evil. After they saw it, they called and said: ‘We loved your picture – can you come in and audition?’ And the rest was history. He stayed on the show until 1999.

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A return to screen

After quitting the show, Michael moved to New Zealand, where he opened a venue called Wolf’s Gym in Auckland. He was contacted by producers in 2008 to appear on a reboot of the show, which ran until 2009, when it was axed again. Michael can be found looking extra-muscly on Instagram, while Wolf’s Gym is – pardon the pun – still going strong. And if Wolf fancies making an appearance on the new reboot of the show, Ladiators is coming later this year. See what they did with the title? Genius. Come on Wolfie, you know you want to.