Jefferson King

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Jefferson King
Born (1961-07-01) July 1, 1961 (age 55)
Nationality United Kingdom British
Known for Shadow from Gladiators
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)

Jefferson King (born 1 July 1961) is a British former bodybuilder and wrestler, best known for playing Shadow in the ITV show Gladiators. He currently works in a clinic for drug rehabilitation.


He was born in London to Jamaican parents. King moved to New York City as a 14-year-old. There he excelled in sports and was on the school American Football team.[1] At that time he began lifting weights and developing his physique.[1] He fell victim to the crack boom of the late 70s, however, and became a drug addict. Living with his mother, his mother requested help from his father back in England who sent money to pay for his fare to England to escape drugs. Jefferson spent the money his father sent twice on drugs before the third time he finally got a ticket and moved to England.[1] Believing he was now free from drugs, he came back to England at the time when the drug industry was becoming big in the country and couldn't escape from it.[1] However, at some point he appears to have overcome his habit and married and had two children. He began concentrating on bodybuilding again and began intensive training.[1]

As King was preparing to enter into the world of professional bodybuilding, he received a phone call from the producers of ITV's Gladiators in Birmingham requesting that he join the show.[1] Shadow was legendary for his icy stare and his record in the 'Duel' event. One of the most highly respected and intimidating members of the Gladiators team, he once hit his opponent so hard in the Duel event that the ends of the pugil stick were clearly damaged. He also successfully served as captain for the Gladiators. In early 1995, King was at the centre of an apparent steroid abuse scandal which saw him lose his job on the show.[2][3] He was outed by the press after taking drugs in a London nightclub in King's Road.[1]

Losing his job, his home in Kidderminster, Worcs., and his wife and kids moving to Essex, he moved to London where he set up a business.[1] King become a wrestler and had a cameo role in the Spice Girls movie Spiceworld in 1997. However, his fall from grace saw him turn to drugs again and he fell victim to severe drug abuse, smoking heroin and crack cocaine, amongst other drugs.[1] He struggled to deal with his addiction for nearly 20 years, turning to a life of crime to pay for his drug habit which saw him in and out of jail.[1]

In March 2005, whilst travelling on the top deck of a 205 bus in Southall, London, King was discovered in possession of an elderly person's bus pass, which he had shown to the driver to board the bus, despite being only 43 at the time. He was arrested for being in possession of stolen property, and taken to Southall Police Station.

In an April 2011 interview he reports that he has now finally beaten his addiction and works at a drug rehabilitation clinic to help people suffering from drug problems and has restored contacts with his ex-wife and twin children Theo and Tiffany and his mother who he avoided for many years because "he didn't want her seeing him like that".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Video: Ex Gladiator rebuilds his life". Inexcess TV. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "'Gladiator' sacked for taking steroids", The Independent, 31 January 1995
  3. ^ "What happened to the Gladiators?", Daily Express, 13 March 2008