Sheamus speaks out on bullying
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|Sheamus in September at a WWE Smackdown show in Toronto. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea
WWE superstar Sheamus wasn't always 6-foot-6 and 270 lbs.
As a kid, the Irishman was pushed around -- bullied.
And now he's taking a stand, standing at the front of the Be a Star anti-bullying program -- co-founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE.
"I had the same red hair, but I was small for my age and kind of chubby," said the giant who grew up as Stephen Farrelly. "I took a fair amount of abuse. So I know what it's like. There are a lot of kids being bullied. Their lives are being made miserable. I don't think people realize what bullying can do. Sometimes the kids can't leave the house ... they lock themselves in their room."
Sheamus said while his in-ring role often demands plenty of violence, "what we do in WWE is entertainment. It's a show.
"We know bullying is wrong and as WWE superstars, we have an influence on kids. We need to stand up against bullying and let the bullies know that what they're doing is wrong and won't be tolerated.
"This shouldn't be happening where the kids don't want to leave the house because they are afraid. They're not doing anything wrong. They're just being themselves.
"Being a kid is supposed to be such a fun part of your life -- before you become an adult with a 9-5 job, paying bills, always stopped in traffic ... When you've got a lot to worry about. What we're trying to say is that bullies are cowards who prey on weaker people."
There can be significant emotional damage done to kids who are picked on -- sometimes leading to suicide.
"Kids need to know that there's nothing to be ashamed of if they're being bullied," said Sheamus. "They can get ashamed to tell their parents ... afraid that they're not a man if they tell. The right thing to do is talk to somebody about it. Don't let it eat you up on the inside. There's strength in numbers. It doesn't need to be dealt with in a physical way, just vocally."
Sheamus is an example of somebody channelled the energy and made himself into a high-profile sports entertainer.
"I turned my negativity to positivity," he said. "I had people telling me I was worthless. They were laughing at me. I told them I wanted to be a WWE superstar and that I wanted to become a champion. They told me I would never do that. And that drove me to prove people wrong all my life."
And he has certainly proven the doubters wrong, winning a WWE championship in his first few months on the job.
"(When I won the belt), after the show, I went to my hotel room and sat with my championship belt. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was real.
"Since then, the boos have turned to cheers. I'm still doing the same thing, but now I'm enjoying himself a bit more." And he's making a difference in the lives of those who need some support.
AROUND THE RING
Beth Phoenix won the Divas title and Alberto Del Rio became the WWE champ again at the Hell and a Cell pay-per-view ... the cast of RAW gave COO Triple H a non-confidence vote and walked out ... Sting vs. Hulk Hogan at TNA's Bound for Glory pay-per-view Oct. 16.
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Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.