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Kilburn's own Gladiator

PUBLISHED: 14:24 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:14 24 August 2010

LONDON - APRIL 11:  New Gladiator Spartan (Roderick Bradley) is introduced during the press view for Sky's Television Show 'Gladiators' on April 11, 2008 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

LONDON - APRIL 11: New Gladiator Spartan (Roderick Bradley) is introduced during the press view for Sky's Television Show 'Gladiators' on April 11, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

2008 Getty Images

By Ben Pearce AMERICAN footballer Rod Bradley is one of the new generation of Gladiators, the cult 90s television show which returns to the screen on Sunday. The 25-year-old wide receiver, who lives in Kilburn, led Finsbury Park-based London Blitz to the

By Ben Pearce

AMERICAN footballer Rod Bradley is one of the new generation of Gladiators, the cult '90s television show which returns to the screen on Sunday.

The 25-year-old wide receiver, who lives in Kilburn, led Finsbury Park-based London Blitz to the national title last season and is also a member of the British Lions national team.

Now Bradley has an alter-ego and 'Spartan', who takes his name from the legendary fighters most recently featured in the epic film 300, faces his biggest challenge yet.

He takes on 32 contenders during the new series, with every one totally intent on shredding the reputations of the prodigious 21st century warriors.

"It's great, I'm having a great time," Bradley told the Times. "We've been filming for the last two weeks and training for the last six.

"I feel it's going well and the American football aspect is really shining through. In particular my instinctive aggressive streak is coming to the fore and that's really helping me through some very tough contests."

Standing at 6ft 3in and weighing 15st, Spartan is, unbelievably, out-muscled by many of his fellow gladiators - particularly 16st 11lbs bodybuilder Atlas.

"I'm different from the old gladiators in that I've got a slimmer build," he admitted. "But I think that's refreshing because, although obviously it's not a level playing field, this time around I think they're closer to being fair matches.

"The last series was great but I don't think people want to see the same scenarios again so this time they've chosen a good selection of guys with different skills and athleticism.

"There's definitely been a raise in the gym culture since the last series so there are some very strong contenders now, and when they get on the show they really go for it."

Despite the strength of both his opponents and his fellow gladiators, Bradley believes his particular physical attributes and athleticism make him a fearsome opponent across the nine events.

"My best events are Powerball, Pyramid and Duel, so look out for those," he said. "In particular I think I'm hopefully going to be the one to beat in Duel, [a fight with pugil sticks on top of two small, raised platforms].

"Again that's because of my aggressive streak. It's hit or be hit and that's a mindset that's very much drummed into you in American football."

Like many other children of the 80s, Gladiators was an iconic part of Bradley's youth, and he admits the show had an impact on his life even before he became a part of its re-creation.

"It was essential Saturday evening TV, watching all your idols running around playing amazing imaginary games," he said. "I think it certainly had an influence on my sporting career.

"This is really the realisation of a childhood dream. You turn up on the set and suddenly all these imaginary games are real.

"It's like an enormous playground but at the same time we do mean business."

Bradley underwent a stringent selection process before becoming one of the final 12 gladiators, and he admitted his involvement with the Blitz gave him the ideal preparation.

"The producers knew what they were looking for - character and athleticism," he said.

"Shadow in the last series was an American Football player so I think the producers were aware of what we can do, and I was able to demonstrate that I had skill as well as power.

"On top of that I think I gained the captaincy of London Blitz by being loud and influential, and that certainly came out in the selection process.

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