Former Kentucky Wildcats defensive lineman Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald is no stranger to a life filled with unexpected twists and turns on his journey to success as a Wildcat.
But as one of 19 college football players invited to tryout for the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) this week in Dallas, Texas, the recent UK graduate just might get thrown a different kind of punch, potentially bouncing off the ropes into a new career.
The 6-foot-6, 296-pounder will be part of a group that includes more than 50 male and female participants with collegiate athletic backgrounds across football, basketball, track and field, wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics, cheer and dance. The three-day tryout began Wednesday as part of WrestleMania Week that concludes with WrestleMania 38 on April 2-3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
The football group includes former starters such as TCU offensive lineman Anthony McKinney, Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs, San Diego State offensive linemen Kyle Spalding and Dominic Gudino, and Samford defensive lineman Armond Lloyd. Former UCLA and Miami tight end Evidence Njoku, the younger brother of Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku, also is trying out.
From the official WWE press release: “Athletes will partake in performance evaluations, individual and group promo evaluations, in-ring technical sessions and sit-down interviews as part of the tryout process. Additionally, current college athletes will participate in assessments as WWE continues its search for the next class of its “Next In Line™” program.”
Originally from Yenagoa, Nigeria, Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald moved to Florida at the age of 12 after being discovered by Steve Fitzgerald, Director of International Programs and head basketball coach at Victory Christian Academy in Lakeland, Florida. Fitzgerald and his wife, Teri, would ultimately legally adopt Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, who now calls Florida home.
In high school, Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald was a three-sport athlete who excelled in football and basketball, scoring 1,400 career points. He also threw the discus and shot put, winning back-to-back regionals and setting the school record.
The journey for my son @abizzle42 continues. Unbelievable the experiences he’s had and the opportunities that continue to come his way. @UKFootball @vaughtsviews @RowlandRIVALS https://t.co/UlfP9ePEvz— Steve Fitzgerald (@crusaderball23) March 30, 2022
As a key member of the Kentucky defense in 2021, the fifth-year senior played in 12 games with nine starts, finishing the season with 12 tackles and the first two sacks of his career against Tennessee, one of which caused a fumble. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Ironically, the wrestling vibe has been strong around the Kentucky football program over the past few years as former linebacker Kash Daniel often channeled his WWE persona on the field and during the Wildcats’ 2019 Super Bowl commercial.
The Paintsville native made his wrestling debut as a manager in 2021 and found a way to get into the action during appearances for Ohio Valley Wrestling, co-owned by Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio.
If Abadi-Fitzgerald comes up short this week in the WWE, could we see the two former Cats join forces as the newest tag team representing Ohio Valley Wrestling? They already have the sack dance ready to go - now for a name. Any suggestions?