OLLIE MCATEER: Major Lee Buff talks wrestling, his love of pets and being the target of bullying

Major Lee Buff
Major Lee Buff
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I expect Major Lee Buff to greet me in groin-grabbingly tight fluorescent pants before hoisting me over his shoulder and performing a suplex.

But instead the wrestler - real name Will Armstrong - asks me to take off my shoes and leave them by the front door of his Horsham home and offers me a coffee.

He is a man of enormous stature. His girthy Mr Strong mug confirms that.

But he hasn’t always been this chiselled.

At 14 he was skinny, quiet and self-conscious.

It made Will the perfect punching bag and a lengthy period of bullying at a school in Bognor culminated in a fight in which he suffered three slipped discs, a cracked vertebrae in his neck and damage to his skull.

It was a tough year of wallowing in self-pity. Then he discovered the gym.

Will pours me a coffee (I want to be part of the big boy mug club but I’m given a tiny vessel with giraffes on it) and we wander into the lounge where he introduces me to his cats and hedgehog. I didn’t know you could keep them as pets, either.

Suddenly I’m surrounded by felines. There are loads of the things. Yet his house is so clean and tidy. I’m confused.

This is nothing, he says, as a kid he boasted around 400 pets, and an aviary the size of his living room.

The 27-year-old seems to be a walking contradiction - hulking, powerful and scary, but kind, caring and very genuine.

He’s not a meathead, which is what I was afraid of. I’d prepared myself for an hour of shouty chat about muscle-gaining protein shakes and intense work-out sessions.

Instead he spoke of his brother, and his love of working with people who suffer from disabilities. It’s his full-time job.

Perhaps I stereotyped too much.

“The rest of my family think it’s ridiculous,” he said, speaking of his passion for wrestling.

It started at the age of 18 fuelled by the World Wrestling Federation (as it was known back then) greats. His idol was The Rock. Mine was The Undertaker.

He joined the Portsmouth FWA Academy and trained for years.

“My dad came along to a show once to watch and afterwards he said to me, ‘so that’s what you want to do is it? Right’.”

As years went on the buzz and glory days of WWF faded, and Will found himself floating around on the scene watching it stagnate.

“Last Autumn me and a friend went to watch a show,” he said. “About 90 per cent of the audience was children, and the show was a generic man in pants versus a generic man in pants. It had lost its showmanship.”

The very next day the duo bought a wrestling ring for £2,500 and team Kapow was born.

It comprises wrestlers from across the country, including Priscilla Queen of the Ring, General E. Massive and Will’s alter ego Major Lee Buff.

“There’s nothing that can get close to being a super hero for ten, 15 minutes.”

He’s played the hero in front of crowds in the thousands. But he’s also had to endure painfully slow nights performing to as little as three people.

On Sunday (July 28) Kapow officially launched at Horsham’s Sparks in the Park with the help of Nick Jenkins at Horsham District Council.

It was hailed a great success. Major Lee Buff and his crew were well received and, with little competition, Will believes there is a real gap in the market for this type of show.

Kapow’s debut show takes place at 2.15pm on Saturday August 10 at Roffey Millennium Hall. For ticket prices and more information visit www.facebook.com/kapowwrestlinguk