NBC reveals the identities of 'American Gladiator' contenders
By Christopher Rocchio, 12/20/2007
NBC has revealed the identities of the 12 men and 12 women who will be competing on the network's American Gladiators'primetime revival, which will premiere with a special two-hour episode on Sunday, January 6 before moving to its regular time period of Mondays at 8PM ET/PT the following night.
Similar to the original American Gladiators franchise, which aired on syndication in the U.S. from 1989 to 1996, NBC's reinvention of the show will feature amateur male and female contenders pitted against gladiator professionals.
The six male gladiator professionals are: Justice "Justice" Smith; Tanoia "Toa" Reed; Mike "Titan" O'Hearn; Alex "Militia" Castro; Don "Wolf" Yates; and Romeo "Mayhem" Williams. The six professional female gladiators are: Gina "Crush" Carano; Valerie "Siren" Waugaman; Beth "Venom" Horn; Jamie "Fury" Kovac; Tanji "Stealth" Johnson; and Robin "Hellga" Coleman.
Classic American Gladiators challenges -- Joust, Gauntlet, The Wall, Hang Tough, Pyramid, Assault and Power Ball -- will all return form NBC's revival of the show. In addition, new challenges Hit & Run and Earthquake have been added. As was also the case with classAmerican Gladiators competition the Eliminator -- a timed obstacle course -- will face contenders at the end of each episode.
The first six episodes of the series will be the preliminaries. In each preliminary episode, two male and two female contenders will compete against each other in various challenges for points. Once the preliminaries are over six men and six women will remain, with the two males having the slowest Eliminator times from the preliminaries and the two females having the slowest Eliminator times from the preliminaries being booted from the competition.
The final eight contenders will then compete in the semifinals, where the four males and four females will be broken down further to compete in two semifinal episodes.
The two winning male and female contenders from the semifinal rounds will compete head-to-head in American Gladiators' finale broadcast to determine which male and female will receive the $100,000 grand prize and the opportunity to become professional gladiators next season.
The 12 male contenders competing in American Gladiators -- as well as their NBC-supplied bios -- are:
Evan Dollard, a 25-year-old retail manager from Chicago, IL
Evan is an avid rock climber and very much an outdoor enthusiast (he teaches rock climbing as a hobby). He lost his mom to brain cancer a few years ago and he is especially close with his father and brother.
Son Nguyen, a 36-year-old fireman from Huntington Beach, CA
Son fled from Vietnam when he was just 3-years-old. He is the youngest of four boys and now has three children of his own (all boys). As a kid he volunteered with the fire department and fell in love with it. He has been a fireman for 14 years.
Chad Knight, a 31-year-old professional skateboarder from Encinitas, CA
Chad thinks his balance and tenacity will serve him well in the Gladiator arena. Four years ago, he shattered the bones in his left leg, leaving his life spiraling out of control. Through his new studies as a physiotherapist and a cautious return to skateboarding, he is on top of his life again.
Jeff Keller, a 38-year-old in radio sales from Los Angeles, CA
Jeff was a contender on the original American Gladiators in 1994, but when he got caught in traffic his spot was given to someone else. Now, 13 years later, he is prepared to make good on his promise to win American Gladiator.
Anthony Abbatemarco, a 27-year-old firefighter from New York City
Anthony is a classic all-American Brooklyn kid, with an endearing smile and sense of humor. As a New York city firefighter he wants to appear on American Gladiators to help remind people of what America lost on 9/11.
Adonis Lockett, a 23-year-old Boeing satellite engineer from Gardena, CA
Adonis was a two sport high school athlete who believes he owes all his success to his mom. As a child his family struggled financially and he succeeded by working hard and being the first in the family to go to college. He plans to use his winnings to help his mom retire. Adonis is also a competitive "stepper." He plans on showing off some of his steps on stage.
Jeff Chapman, a 26-year-old radiation control technician from Harriman, TN
Jeff is a likable country boy with an "Aw shucks" attitude. He is trained in mixed martial arts and is an amateur fighter. He and his wife opened a karate studio to teach kids that wouldn't normally be able to afford it.
Sharaud Moore, a 30-year-old middle school algebra teacher from Long Beach, CA
Sharaud is one of the original "Freedom Writers." He is a family man that knows he owes it all to his mom. His mom was very young when she gave birth to him and although they struggled, Sharaud always knew what was important, an education.
Mark Baker, a 35-year-old chiropractor and former Army distance runner from Chicago, IL
Mark wanted to try out for American Gladiators the first time around but was turned away because he was only 17. He is now back and ready to go. Mark currently runs two chiropractor offices in Chicago.
Adam Levin, a 29-year-old shark fisherman from Bedford, TX
Adam -- who lost his home in Hurricane Wilma -- is an outdoors type that found himself on the docks fishing and then was offered a job on a fishing boat as shark fisherman. After losing most of what he owned in the hurricane, he moved to Texas to start to rebuild his life.
Alex Rai, a 25-year-old high school history teacher and wrestling coach from Rosemead, CA
Alex has been wrestling since he was 5-years-old and received a full wrestling scholarship to California State University Northridge. Hulk Hogan is his hero, and he keeps a wrestling belt in his classroom in honor of "The Hulk." When he was just 15-years-old, his father passed away just two weeks before wrestling season. Teachers and wrestling coaches held him together. That's when he knew he wanted to be a teacher.
Molivann Duy, a 24-year-old daycare teacher by day and student by night from Lakewood, CA
His biggest idols are his parents who fled Cambodia during the 1970s massacres and made a great life out of nothing. By example of his parents, Molivann feels like he can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.
The 12 female contenders competing in American Gladiators -- as well as their NBC-supplied bios -- are:
Toni Oppliger, a 46-year-old high school teacher, athletic director and single mother of two from Carrollton, TX
Toni is the 2005 national power-lifting champion. She firmly believes that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." And as she is the oldest contender, she figures she is plenty strong from all the knocks she's received in life.
ShaNay Norvell, a 31-year-old life wellness trainer in Atlanta, GA
ShaNay specializes in working with adolescent kids and teaches them to get into shape. She also runs a non-profit organization for adolescents.
Christie Philips, a 39-year-old karate instructor and mother of two from San Marcos, CA
Christie is currently the Female World Grapping Champion. "Girl Power" is Christie's motto. "If you can do it, I can do it too." Her mission in life is to empower women. She's graceful and proud of her age.
Jessie Foster, a 26-year-old single mother of three and a toilet paper saleswoman Donahue, IA
Jessie has a great attitude and wants to change her life for the better. She believes American Gladiators is the first step to making that happen. She hopes to someday open a retreat camp for single parents and their children to focus on body, mind and soul.
Christine Kim, a 27-year-old mortgage broker from Redondo Beach, CA
Christine is self-proclaimed tom-boy who grew up in a very traditional home with an old school Korean father who didn't always approve of her choices. As a child her father was upset that she was always outside being athletic and tomboyish, then she didn't go to law and now she wants to kick some Gladiator rear end. Will daddy approve?
Monica Carlson, a 32-year-old former Portland Trailblazer dancer Milwaukie, OR
Monica is a mother of 8-year-old twins. Growing up American Gladiators was her favorite show. Her husband is a football coach and athletics plays a large art in the family. One of 11 kids growing up, Monica is in great shape and loves competition.
Koya Webb, a 26- year-old professional chef, author and life coach from Beverly Hills, CA
While in college Koya played multiple sports including basketball and track and field. She also trained for the Olympics.
Kim Marciniak, a 28-year-old medical sales rep and former dancer New York Knicks from Avenel, NJ
Kim is a bubbly "Jersey girl" who grew up dancing and spent years doing so for the New York Knicks. She wants to prove that she can handle anything, and American Gladiators is just the way she wants to do it.
Bonnie Blanco, a 25-year-old Marine sergeant and mother of two from Arlington, TX
Bonnie grew up fast when she joined the military. She served a tour in Iraq leading a team of soldiers. While in the military she competed and won in the "Strongest Warrior" competition.
Belinda Gavin, a 36-year-old bull rider from Burbank, CA
Belinda grew-up on ranches in Australia and was regularly taunted and dared to do things even the boys wouldn't do. Her bravado stayed with her when she immigrated to the United States 15 years ago, leading her to become a bull rider.
Jennifer Blum, a 34-year-old civil litigation lawyer and women's football player Franklin Park, NJ
Jennifer grew-up sleeping with a football in her bed. When she was 9-years-old, she and her parents sued for her right to be on a boy's soccer team -- an event that was covered in the media nationwide. Always a tom-boy, never afraid to take a hit or hit back, she is ready to jump into the ring with the Gladiators.
Siene Silva, a 34-year-old gymnastics instructor and life coach from Fairfax, VA
Siene was a powerlifting champ in high school and owes all her success to her mom who taught her to always keep pushing no matter how hard life gets.
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