top of page
  • Billy Wooldridge

The 'Sly Tactician Kian Fox' On Wrestling, Driving Instruction, Exploded Elbows and Jarrod Bowen

'Sly Tactician' Kian Fox at the Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham close lining 'Buzzsaw Bronson'

It’s fair to say that there are very few people who juggle the jobs of a professional wrestler and driving instructor like the ‘Sly Tactician Kian Fox’.

I have been fortunate enough to experience Kian Kelly’s driving instructing skills in the last few months, plucking up the courage to get behind the wheel, but I felt like it was finally time to witness the Sly Tactician in the ring.

In the back of Cheltenham’s popular pub ‘The Frog and Fiddle’, an 18-foot by 18-foot ring had been crammed in, and the difference from our nine o'clock driving lesson, to Kelly’s 11 o'clock appearance in the ring was astonishing.

“It’s always been a difficult balance,” Kian said with a chuckle. “I’m a father and husband now but I’ve always tried to have jobs that fit around wrestling.

“Wrestling is like my drug. I thrive at helping people achieve their driving ambition and helping people pass, but my main fulfilment comes from having something to do at the weekend.

“I can be instructing students in the day and then wrestling in the back rooms of a pub or even in a field in a tiny village. It’s a weird and wonderful world.”

Kelly’s wrestling career started in the most bizarre of ways as he remembers noticing an advertisement in the newspaper 20 years ago.

“The football and rugby avenues had shut down,” remembers the six foot six, 18 stone ‘Tactician’. “I’m from a small market town called Devizes in Wiltshire and there was an article about a wrestling school opening.

“It was a small-time company who were just emulating the WWE style. The first day there were 20, 30 lads, after they’d thrown us about there were only five, six left.

“I kept coming back and made my debut soon after. It was really strange how a small town like mine had that come about, some would say a bit of fate.”

After various roles in schools as a PE teacher and sports lecturer, the driving instructing came about six years ago.

“A couple redundancies later I found the driving instruction,” said Kelly. “I needed a job that could be flexible so driving instruction lent itself to teaching and working with young people.

“If I need time off to wrestle, I can always work with my diary. I’ve always had wrestling as my lifestyle and everything else professionally is what pays the bills,” finished Kelly.

I’m aiming to pass my driving exam before the start of my final year of university, sometime in September, but my aim to become a wrestler became even more non-existent after hearing some of the injuries that the sport brings.

“I’m touching wood here because for me I’ve only really had countless knocks and niggles,” relives Kelly. “I remember years ago at an 18+ event somebody miss timed something and a baseball bat exploded someone’s elbow.

“The guy wasn’t too happy about that because he had to drive home, and a big fight kicked off backstage.

“You see wrestlers in the ring but you should see them back stage when they go to blows, it’s a different kind of sell-out,” Kelly finishes with a smile.

Kelly at the Blackcounrty Championships in Wolverhamtpon

In Kelly’s 20-year spell as a wrestler, the names that he has shared the ring with is mesmerizing for a full-time driving instructor.

“In Newport arena years ago, I was on the same card as AJ Styles and CM Punk,” remembers Kelly. “These are real household names.

“Even to this day AJ Styles is a WWE millionaire. CM Punk is a multimillionaire and I’m having lunch with these guys and chilling backstage with them.

“I was trained by Jake 'The Snake' Roberts for a bit, a childhood hero. These guys have wrestled at Wrestlemania in front of 90,000 people and I’ve been in village halls and theatres with them, it’s quite surreal.”

Kelly’s celebrity networking doesn’t stop with the wrestling.

“One of the highlights of being a PE teacher is you get to identify talent,” said Kelly. “I got my first teaching job in a school in Hereford and Jarrod Bowen was one of my students.

“I remember making him captain of the year seven football team. He’s gone on to play for West Ham and England, and last time I checked he had just married Danny Dyer’s daughter!

“He was a wonderful lad, he used to go running on a local farm, a potato field. He was out doing that and look where he is now.”

Finishing up on our chat, Kelly expressed the next avenue he wants to pursue when his wrestling career comes to an end.

“I’ll never make life easy for myself,” said Kelly. “I’m one of those people who need that sort of drug to focus on.

“I’ve enrolled on a few football agency courses; I can’t get the buzz of playing but scouting and representing footballers would give me that buzz.

“But in wrestling there’s a famous saying, ‘you will never retire from wrestling; wrestling will retire you’,” finishing the ‘Sly Tactician’ with a laugh.

28 views0 comments


bottom of page