Before becoming the “Celtic Warrior” and a popular WWE superstar, Sheamus was a victim of bullying.
Believe it or not, the 6-foot-4 powerhouse was once a small, chubby, 12-year-old kid. The native of Dublin, Ireland described himself as an introvert during his adolescence. This all made him an easy target for ridicule.
“It was pretty tough, but I had some good people around me and was able to overcome it to go forward,” he said.
The Irishmen uses his personal experiences growing up and celebrity to educate youngsters on anti-bullying. He has become a champion for Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect), an initiative co-founded by WWE and The Creative Coalition in 2011. Be a STAR recently partnered with DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change, for The Bully Text: Superstar Edition.
The campaign utilizes an SMS text message game to encourage youngsters to take action against bullying. The experience walks users through a day in the life of a student, giving them a chance to take action around bullying. Sheamus filmed a public service announcement for it.
“You hear all of these tragic stories,” he said. “We’re done sitting back and letting it happen. When I became a part of Be a STAR and now with Do Something coming together with WWE, we have a much further range and bigger reach to get the message of anti-bullying and the effects of bullying out there.”
The United States champion feels children don’t realize the damage they’re causing by bullying each other.
“When I talk to these kids I talk to them about not only the physical, but how verbal name-calling can be just as bad,” he said. “The bullies don’t realize the effects they’re having on the kids who are being bullied. They aren’t in that situation themselves and are just looking for an audience. Kids who are being bullied don’t even want to come to school. They stay at home and are seriously depressed.
“We need to make the bullies aware of what they’re doing, why it’s wrong and the effects it has on the kids who they are doing it to. You can see the light bulbs going off in these kids’ heads when I say this. I try to put them in the situation of those being bullied. It just makes them aware.
“When I was growing up as a kid it was always, ‘Oh, you’re being bullied. Well, toughen up. Get some tough skin and deal with it.’ That’s how we were told to deal with it, and it’s not that simple. Then when you hear about all these tragic cases something has to be done.”
Sheamus has participated in Be a STAR rallies at schools in South Africa, Europe and across the United Sates. He can see the impact these school gatherings are having on the attendees.
“When I do signings I have parents who come up with their kids thanking me for the Be a STAR program,” he said. “They say that their kids were getting bullied in school, but after having the rally at school it stopped. They are so much better and happy going to school now. It catches me sometimes. When you’re doing an autograph signing it just catches you off guard. It’s awesome to hear.
“I saw one kid who was bullied to the point where when I did the rally he had this anxiety around people. I remember going back to where he was in the back of the hall. He was a huge WWE fan, but he was so cut off. He was this normal kid who was just picked on, picked on, picked on. It really makes you aware of how serious this is.”
Sheamus enjoys sending a positive example in the work he does. The superstar also exudes a drive and passion for his profession as well. You can witness this shining through in his U.S. title defense against his Swiss rival Cesaro at the 2014 WWE Night of Champions pay-per-view. He takes pride in wearing the gold.
“When I won the United States championship, I wanted to defend the title more,” he said. “I would definitely like to have matches like the one I had with Cesaro. Right now he is definitely my favorite opponent. He is one of the most gifted and hardest working superstars out there.”
The physical fighter feels with Brock Lesnar as the WWE World champion and not being on television every week can provide a prime opportunity. Sheamus wants to reestablish the U.S. title’s luster.
“There was more prestige when I won it the first time back in 2010, but I will wrestle Cesaro or anyone,” he said. “I just want to defend the title more. That was the goal when I won it was to bring it back up to where it had been for decades. The cool thing about Night of Champions was seeing the shots of all the former champions with the title around their waste. That was really cool to see before each match. So you see that and superstars who came before you with Harley Race and Ricky Steamboat. It gives you chills. It gives you goose bumps.”
No matter where he goes next in his career, Sheamus is happy as long as he is having fun and involved in good storylines. This goes for whether he is a beloved face or hated heel.
“I’m not opposed to going either way to be honest,” he said. “I enjoy both sides of the coin. I’m sure it will come around again [for me to be a heel], but I want it to be for the right reason and right story. My goal right now is to keep moving forward and put on the best matches I can. I want to keep getting better and let people into who Sheamus really is.
“Character-wise, there was stuff I did before that wasn’t really me…I really want to reeducate people into who Sheamus really is. I can have a laugh and throw a crack in and have fun, but when it comes to the match it’s all business.”
Since his debut on the main roster in 2009, Sheamus has enjoyed much success. Along with U.S. title holder, his resume is very impressive as a former WWE champion, world heavyweight champion, King of the Ring, Royal Rumble winner and a multi-time Slammy Award winner. He is happy how things turned out and for his journey thus far.
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Sheamus said. “I have some great memories in the short time I’ve been in WWE. I have some amazing memories. There are peaks and valleys. I came in hot, but you can’t be there forever. It’s all been a challenge for me. When I lost to Randy [Orton] and went down the card...it was a real kick, but a challenge. I overcame it. I stayed hungry and focused.
“That’s what it is. It’s about taking what comes and making the most of it. You make the most of it. Cesaro and I went out there and brought it as much as we could because we knew we wanted to steal the show.”
Looking at prospective opponents, Sheamus isn’t only keeping his wish list within the WWE Universe. The performer mentioned Justin Bieber as the celeb he wanted to go toe-to-toe during a chat with a reporter not too long ago. Sheamus presented Bieber with “Best Male” at the MTV European Music Awards in 2011. Overall the master of the “Brogue Kick” isn’t happy with the pop star’s antics since then.
“No he has not [accepted the challenge],” Sheamus said with a laugh. “I don’t have any missed call or voicemails. He is probably driving his Lamborghini around. I don’t know what he is doing, but I would love to get a shot at him. I would even have one hand tied behind me back. It would be whatever he wants. It’s funny the reaction on Twitter I got. I laughed. The interview I did just had legs. It was pretty funny.”
▪ The Bully Text: Superstar Edition: For information on the game and a chance at a $10,000 scholarship,
▪ Follow Sheamus on Twitter @WWESheamus.
▪ Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.