Wrestling star ‘Shadow’, 60, jailed for role in a drug-fueled extortion plot

Wrestlers star ‘Shadow’, 60, has been jailed for more than six years for his role in a drug-fueled extortion plot after the victim was captured and his family demanded £1,000 to let him go.

  • Michael Jefferson King, 60, was jailed for six years and three months on Friday
  • King was in the first three series of the popular show and became a household name
  • Barely recognizable from his ’90s show after years of drug abuse
  • King had demanded his family £1,000 for the safe return of a 40-year-old
  • Victim Arun Ali was detained for six and a half hours after a day of smoking drugs


The bodybuilder best known for his starring role on the 1990s TV show Gladiators has been jailed for his part in an extortion plot due to a drug debt.

Michael Jefferson King, known to millions as Shadow from the ITV game show, was one of four people who held a man in an apartment in Acton, west London, during a tormenting attack that lasted about eight hours.

King has been described as a “lieutenant” to the plot, which ended with Aaron Ali being beaten and filmed over “extremely distressing” videos sent to his family for a payment of up to £1,000 to let him go.

At one point, King allegedly ordered one of the other defendants to “bring a hammer to break his legs” after Mr Ali tried to escape.

Ex-bodybuilder who played Shadow on the 1990s TV show Gladiators was jailed for his role in an extortion plot

Michael Jefferson King, 60, has been jailed for six years and three months at Isleworth Crown Court

Michael Jefferson King, 60, has been jailed for six years and three months at Isleworth Crown Court

King, 60, a long-time user of cocaine and heroin, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of racketeering at Isleworth Crown Court.

Three other defendants, called gang leader Simon Batson, Donna Harman, and Otis Noel, were also sentenced for their part in the plot.

The judge, Honorary Judge Fiona Barry, said: “The four defendants devised a plan to extort money from Mr Ali’s family.

“He was subjected to a continuous and brutal attack over a period of several hours, and from lunchtime until nine in the evening he said he was tortured by the group.”

She said Mr Ali said he was “treated like less than a human being by people he knows, all for drugs and money”.

Jefferson King, Ulrica Johnson and Michael Ahearn in ITV's Gladiator

Jefferson King, Ulrica Johnson and Michael Ahearn in ITV’s Gladiator

Former bodybuilder King has been appointed as a wrestler for the original 1992 series

Former bodybuilder King has been appointed as a wrestler for the original 1992 series

King, born in London to Jamaican parents, moved to New York at the age of 14, where he joined the school’s American football team.

He later returned to England, where he met his wife and had two children before being recruited as a wrestler for the original 1992 series hosted by Ulrika Jonsson.

In 1995, King was caught sniffing cocaine, then was disqualified from the ITV program after he tested positive for steroids.

He later switched to heroin and cocaine, lost his home and family and served a series of prison sentences.

In 2009 he went to rehab and stayed clean, revealing in 2011 that he overcame his addiction and worked in a rehab clinic to help people with drug problems. He was arrested last year for possession of heroin.

King showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered today.

Left to Right: Wolf (Michael van Wijk), Shadow (Jefferson King), host Ulrika Johnson, Saracen (Mike Lewis), and Cobra (Michael, Wilson) for Wrestlers Season 3, 1994

Left to Right: Wolf (Michael van Wijk), Shadow (Jefferson King), host Ulrika Johnson, Saracen (Mike Lewis), and Cobra (Michael, Wilson) for Wrestlers Season 3, 1994

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