The demands that come with balancing fatherhood and a career are something that every parent is well aware of. However, the demands that come with balancing fatherhood while maintaining a successful wrestling career is something that only a handful of people can identify with.
WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, known outside the ring as Thaddeus Bullard, makes those demands look easy.
Bullard’s phenomenal work ethic and established career are driven by his passion for providing the best possible life for his two sons, Thaddeus Jr. and Titus. With a rigorous schedule that includes more than 200 nights a year on the road and no offseason, the rewarding job of being a father makes it all worthwhile for Bullard.
“Luckily I started when they were young so they understand,” said Bullard in an exclusive interview with Daddyhood.net. “They obviously would like to have me around more, and I would like to be around more, but they understand I’m working and building a future for them.”
Whether it is helping out with homework assignments or going outdoors to play basketball or football, Bullard’s time at home is exclusively reserved for spending quality time with his children. However, his involvement in their lives is something that doesn’t stop while on the road.
“I never had a father growing up but they don’t feel the same absence that I felt because I talk to them regularly. I FaceTime with them regularly when I’m on the road and they have open access to call me whenever they need to,” said Bullard.
Bullard explains that the opportunity to work for the WWE came when fellow wrestler and good friend, Dave Bautista, encouraged him to try it once he was done playing in the Arena Football League. After inquiring about a possible wrestling career at the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental facility in Tampa, Bullard sought approval from the only two people that mattered… his kids.
“I went and picked my kids up from school and asked them if they wanted to go to a wrestling match, and we went and they enjoyed the show,” said Bullard. “I asked them if it was something they would like for me to do, and 15 minutes later, after I left the building, WWE called me and said they wanted to try me out and see if it fit. The rest is history.”
As Bullard’s career as a professional wrestler unfolded and their dad’s newfound fame grew, an adjustment period was needed to take some getting used to for the two boys.
“When we’re walking the mall or something like that and somebody says, ‘hey Titus can I get a picture,’ the boys will just stay on the side and let them get a picture and we’ll go on about our business,” says Bullard. “They understand it, but sometimes my youngest son Titus will slide in the picture and say ‘I’m the real Titus.’ So if fans want the big Titus, they’ll get the little Titus too.”
Although life in and out of the ring was an adjustment, the one thing that didn’t change was Bullard’s commitment to his principles. The father of two said that he has no problem drawing the line and refusing airtime when he sees fit.
Working in an industry known for its provocative content, he has maintained a list of principles and values he won’t ignore for the sake of a storyline on television or an endorsement opportunity. Bullard asserts that he’s looking to make a life, not a living.
For Bullard, who is also a supporter of the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), has starred in a Fatherhood.gov campaign and has recently worked with the Wheelchairs 4 Kids charity in Tampa, the life he’s trying to build is focused squarely around his family and helping others.
“If there’s any advice that I would offer as a father it’s try to find time, to make time for your kids,” said Bullard. “I learned at a very early age that what I do today can impact me years from now, but more importantly what I do today can impact someone else’s life years from now too.”
Looking ahead to the future, Bullard stresses that his faith and his love of people will continue to be a driving force in his life.
“I think a lot of the things that I’ve done and will continue to do, are not based on gender, or race, or sexual orientation or financial background, it’s really based on love. My genuine love of people and my love and appreciation of where God has brought me to, my position in life, and what he’s brought me through. I feel like I would be doing everyone who invested in me as a youth and an adult an injustice if I wasn’t going out on a daily basis to try and better someone else’s life along with bettering my own.”