Ex-England rugby player and UK Fittest Man champion named as first Gladiators

Fury and Steel have been named as the first Gladiators in the new line-up to compete on the BBC’s revival of the sports entertainment show.

Gladiators was originally broadcast from 1992 to 2000 and is set to be reappear on TV screens this year with an 11-episode series hosted by The Chase presenter Bradley Walsh and his son, Barney.

The One Show has revealed that former England Women’s rugby sevens player, Jodie Ounsley, will star as Fury, while Zack George, who won the title of the UK’s Fittest Man in 2020, will go under the name Steel.

The pair are the first “superhumans” set to pick up their pugil sticks and compete in the gameshow coming to BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh
Bradley Walsh and Barney Walsh will host the new series of Gladiators (Ian West/PA)

Fury, who plays professional rugby for the Exeter Chiefs and was given her name due to her power and passion for competition, has Gladiators in her blood as her father was a contender on the show in 2008 and has been “training to outdo him ever since”, the BBC said.

Her achievements include being British champion at Brazilian jiu jitsu and winning the World Coal Carrying championship five times. She was also Deaf Sports Personality of The Year in 2020.

She said: “Watching Gladiators growing up I was always in awe of their strength and power and now I am one.

“I hope contenders are ready to feel the Fury.”

Meanwhile, Steel earned his name through his “unbreakable strength”, ranking number 26 out of 126,461 on the global CrossFit leader board.

The CrossFit star said he is hoping to inspire a new generation of fans after undertaking his own personal fitness journey as a teenager.

He said: “I was inspired by the Gladiators as a child, but never imagined I’d be physically fit enough to be considered a superhuman.

“I hope a new generation of fans will look up to me as their new strong, unbreakable hero, Steel.”

The new series, which will involve the Gladiators competing against a set of contenders in the test of speed and strength, will feature brand new games alongside classic challenges including fan favourites Duel, Hang Tough and The Eliminator – the gruelling obstacle course – when the competition kicks off at the Utilita Arena Sheffield around June 2023.

Gladiators did return to TV screens on Sky between 2008 and 2009, and at its peak in the 1990s drew huge audiences to the Saturday evening ITV slot.