Wrestler who battled debt and homelessness to fight at Leeds church

Gareth Thompson'Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Gareth Thompson'Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A wrestler who battled debt after becoming homeless will share his story of grappling with and overcoming adversity during a free event at a Leeds church.

Gareth Thompson - known in the wrestling world as Gareth Angel - came from a broken home and endured a troubled childhood, ending up homeless at the age of just 15.

Wrestler Gareth Thompson gets to grips with pastor Andy Lenton.'Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Wrestler Gareth Thompson gets to grips with pastor Andy Lenton.'Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

He spent eight weeks living in a skip before ending up at a homeless hostel.

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Gareth was in debt from the age of 18, but started to turned his life around in 2010 after finding religion and becoming involved with Christians Against Poverty.

He was interested in wrestling as a child and started training in his early 20s with a view to turning professional.

He now splits his time being a professional wrestler and working for Christians Against Poverty, helping people who are in debt.

Gareth, 32, will be at a free wrestling event held at Bridge Community Church on Rider Street in Burmantofts, Leeds, from 6.30pm on Sunday September 15.

The night will feature five fights involving 14 wrestlers and wil include a tag team event and a David vs Goliath match.

It will close with Mr Thompson sharing his struggles and successes all while achieving his childhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler.

Mr Thompson said: “I have been a wrestler throughout this journey and it has always been a great release for me.

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“At first it was an outlet for my frustrations and a way to feed my ego. But once I got serious with God, that all changed. I chose the name Gareth Angel’ to reflect my faith.

“I also hope to show Jesus to the crowds. My T-shirts say: Pray, Eat, Wrestle, Repeat’. There are kids wearing those T-shirts, praying with me during my entrance.”

Malcolm Lamb, centre manager for Christians Against Poverty at Bridge Community Church, said: “When I look at what he has been through and the debt situation he has had to face, it’s remarkable how he has been able to come through all that and become the man he is today.

“Now he works for Christians Against Poverty in Bradford helping people out of debt.

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“He also runs a job club to help people who are in debt get back into employment.

“The rest of his time he does these wrestling gigs to promote the work of Christians Against Poverty.”