A former rising star with the Sea Eagles who played alongside Jake Trbojevic and Clinton Gutherson has swapped the tackles for grapples by becoming a professional wrestler.
Jackson Kelly “The Beachbumboota” no longer thinks a Clothesline is where he hangs his footy jersey, rather a move to flatten an opponent.
It’s been a real sea change for Kelly who was a rangy backrower who came up through the Manly junior system where he played in the Sea Eagles’ Harold Matthews, SG Ball and under 20s teams.
At the end of the 2014 season he and the club decided it was time to move on.
Growing up Kelly had always a big fan of wrestling, marvelling at the deeds of legendary characters like The Undertaker and these days by John Cena.
“I just wanted to get into it and wrestling is a mental and physical challenge,” he said.
“I thought if I am going to do it, I am going to do it all the way.”
So Kelly saved up his money, took a gap year from his university studies and headed to the USA where he underwent a three month programs at the pro wrestling school run by current WWE star Seth Rollins in Iowa.
“I had never stepped into a ring before and just dived into it head first,” he said.
He graduated from the school last September and next Thursday he will compete on the his home canvas for the first time in the “Suplex On The Sand” pro wrestling show at Dee Why RSL.
“You want to create and generate emotion and you can make it as physical as you want it to be,” he said.
“I like the polarising figures and the big thing about wrestling is to try and get as much attention on yourself as possible.”.
Kelly has just turned 23 and has a goal of eventually cracking in the WWE and facing the likes of Cena, Brock Lesnar and Big Show with his signature move the “left, right, goodnight” .
“I’ve got to earn my stripes, there is no doubt about that,” he said.
“If I can do my part now hopefully it will set me up for something down the line.”