Counselor reveals colorful past

Hannah Harpel, Facebook manager

Grappling with his opponent, counselor Tom Angelo, then a senior at Kapaun Mt. Carmel, wrestles in the ‘97-’98 season at Heights Feb. 5. High school wrestling set the stage for Angelo’s professional wrestling career photo by Lynette Broderick follow the link for a KSN News 3 feature over Angelo

Before working here at Kapaun Mt. Carmel, counselor Thomas Angelo was a professional wrestler, prison guard, ghost hunter and a published author.
“My career as a pro wrestler started like any other career did,” Angelo said. “I went to school for it. After I graduated from Wichita State, I moved to Jefferson City, Missouri and trained with WWE (Wrestling World Entertainment) Hall of Famer Harley Race.”
Angelo began his wrestling career in high school and got involved in powerlifting in college to boost his confidence in wrestling.
“One of his special moves was called the ‘babykiller,’” ‘98 Kapaun alum Clarence Sponsel said. “His opponents would look very scared even though it was only scissoring the body with his legs.”
In addition to professional wrestling, Angelo also had a full-time job at Central Missouri Correctional Center near Jefferson City for the purpose of acquiring insurance. He served as a teacher of an inmate education program, helping inmates earn their GEDs for parole.The prisoners in the program had never completed school, and teaching them made Angelo interested in teaching as a career.
“This experience was rewarding, exciting and intimidating all at once,” Angelo said. “I found more joy in teaching than in wrestling. It was obvious that God was calling me to continue in the field, but I wasn’t yet choosing to listen.”
Taking on his professional wrestling career, Angelo was 6’3” and 230 pounds. His role in the ring was the classic villain, which consisted of using his height as an advantage and cheating to win even if it was not necessary. For the most part Angelo wrestled as another version of himself, but as his career went on, some “higher-ups” in the league were strongly encouraging Angelo to take on a wrestling character of a World War II Nazi sympathizer. However, Angelo refused to take on that part because it went against his values.
“Education is what I was called to do,” Angelo said. “ As I alluded to earlier, I truly believe God was trying to steer me back into the profession, but allowed me the time and ability to try something I might wonder about when I was older. I’m sure He was pretty amused with me the entire time.”
After seven months of starting his professional wrestling career, Angelo ended that career and began teaching in the Diocese of Wichita. Three rules that have carried over for Angelo from professional wrestling to teaching include greeting coworkers, working to build each other up, and acknowledging others by always thanking them. Although he does not regret quitting wrestling, Angelo said that he misses “being on stage, performing for audiences, and getting a crowd to react a certain way.”
“As a principal of Resurrection, [Angelo] was really hands-on,” junior Andrew Boeding said. “He would teach a first block algebra to all the kids who would show up early because Resurrection does not offer that class, and he would take students who received all A’s out to lunch.”
Angelo’s unique career path does not end there. In 2007, Angelo was challenged by friends to write a novel after they had discovered poems and short stories in a notebook of his. He finished his novel, “Eliza Peel: One Foot in the Grave,” later that year. “Eliza Peel” is a 400-page ghost story for middle schoolers with “bits of Nordic mythology and technobabble sprinkled in.”
Angelo even joined a ghost-hunting group in Wichita to help him write about one of the characters in his novel. Since Angelo could not find any publishers willing to take a chance on his book, he self-published it in 2009.
“So as someone who did professional wrestling, wrote a book, hunted for ghosts, and worked in a prison, I can appreciate most people’s reactions,” Angelo said. “Typically, there’s a period of surprise, then doubt, then finally, I get a head nod and a ‘Oh. Okay. Cool.’ Then people move on.”