Professional wrestler Sheamus takes on drugs, bullying


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ST. THOMAS ­- Stay in school. Do not do drugs. Do not bully.

They all are familiar messages directed at high school students these days, but it is not every day that they get to hear those words from a muscle-bound Irish wrestling superstar with flaming red hair.

On Thursday, at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, students cheered and roared as Stephen Farrelly, also known as "Sheamus," entered the Kean gym for a special appearance.

Sheamus debuted with World Wrestling Entertainment in 2006, after twice capturing the Irish Whip Wrestling International Heavyweight Championship. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Sheamus worked as a bodyguard for two members of the band U2 and was an IT technician before becoming a professional wrestler.

Since signing on with World Wrestling Entertainment, he has starred in cable and pay-per-view broadcasts for three WWE brands, ECW, Raw and Smackdown. In 2010, Sheamus won the King of the Ring, and in March 2011, he captured the illustrious United States Championship, televised in the pay-per-view series Smackdown.

In April 2012, he was crowned the World Heavyweight Champion.

Sheamus' signature move, the "Brogue kick," briefly was banned by wrestling officials when he used it to knock out ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. Sheamus retained his title for 210 days before losing it to the "Big Show" in October.

After brief introductory remarks, Sheamus took questions from the Kean students, who asked him about what inspired him to become a wrestler, how many hours he spent in the gym, what was the most exciting part about his career and what did it feel like to go up against the Big Show, who stands 7 feet, 2 inches tall.

"His hands are about three times the size of mine, and he just hits you in the chest over and over again," Sheamus said. "It's like getting hit with a frying pan."

Kean junior Chantelle Grant stole the show away from the famous guest when she took the mic and serenaded Sheamus with Keyshia Cole's "Trust and Believe."

Before she did so, however, she was sure to announce her fealty to Sheamus' rival John Cena.

"I just like to sing, so I promised myself that whenever anyone big visits us, I would sing to them," Grant said after her impromptu performance.

The students asked "Sheamus" to demonstrate his "Brogue kick," which he did reluctantly because he was wearing jeans.

The V.I. National Guard sponsored the appearance as part of a recruitment campaign. As part of the Guard's contract with WWE, wrestling superstars make special appearances at community fairs and schools on behalf of the National Guard.

The celebrities promote the messages that students should stay in school, avoid drugs and stop bullying each other, according to Timothy Bebus, who arranges the appearances for the PR firm MIL-Team Consulting and Solutions.

Sheamus concluded his presentation with a recap of all those talking points, then signed T-shirts and posters for the students.

After the presentation, he said he hoped his status as a TV personality could help him get kids to take the anti-bullying message seriously.

"I was bullied when I was a little kid, so I try to teach kids that if they are being bullied, they need to come forward," he said. "Lots of times, kids who are being bullied feel ashamed. They think it's a problem with them, when it's actually a problem with the bully.

"Also, with social media, now for them it never stops," he said. "It used to stop when the kids go home, but now it's all the time, so I try to teach them that this kind of behavior on Facebook can have really negative consequences for kids."

- Contact Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email anorris@dailynews.vi.

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