Gladiator’s Fury: ‘I am passionate about inspiring the younger generation’

by Amy Rowland |
Updated on

One of the most iconic nineties Saturday night TV shows is back – and we can’t get enough. Gladiators was a huge ITV hit when it first appeared on our screens back in 1992 and had a cult following until it ended in 2000.

Now it’s back, this time on the BBC, and the new cast of are as impressive as their predecessors. There’s former firefighter turned bodybuilder Jamie Christian Johal who, standing at 6ft 5ins, has the moniker Giant.

Then there’s former Team GB Sprinter and Olympic Bobsledder Montell Douglas, who has taken on the role of Flash and former international athlete, Matt Morsia who describes himself as a Legend - hence his name.

But the Gladiator who has really caught our eye is fast and strong Fury, aka Jodie Ounsley. Jodie has swapped the rugby pitch to compete in the famous Gladiators arena and she’s already showing off her skills on the show.

22-year-old Jodie is a former England Women’s Rugby Seven’s player and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu British Champion. The sports star also has Gladiators in her blood with her father being a contender on the show in 2009, when she was just seven.

She says, “The biggest reason (for signing up) is because my dad was a contender in a previous series, so Gladiators has been a big part of our family since I was little. I loved watching how physical the Gladiators were but then I also loved watching my dad go through the process as well, so he’s clearly been a massive influence and it's pretty cool that I can do it too. I was always in awe of the Gladiator’s strength and power and now I am one!

“The new series is savage, exciting and fresh. I think it's cool because they've kept it very much like the original but then they've also added a really nice, modern twist on it. I think people will like that it’s not completely changed or that we’ve tried to make it something that isn't. We have just tried to expand on something that was already great.”

Jodie was born profoundly deaf, which means she can’t hear in either ear. She says, “My parents were advised for me to have a cochlear implant when I was 13 months old - as far as I am aware I was the youngest person to have a cochlear implant in the UK at the time.”

Jodie loved sport from a young age – and found that she had a real competitive streak. She went on to play professional rugby – and is now loving being Fury and being part of such an iconic show.

She says, “My family and my dad are my biggest supporters. Everyone on the show has been so brilliant. The crew and the other Gladiators all went on deaf awareness courses and have been so supportive, always checking in and asking what they can do to support me.

“When filming, I was always told what was going to happen beforehand and putting me in the picture. People think you have to do massive things to make it easier for deaf people like myself but it's just little tweaks. It made the experience so much more enjoyable.

“I have loved to see the amazing feedback I have had from parents of deaf kids, sending me photos and videos of little children with implants screaming when they see me wearing my implant - it really warms my heart.

“I am so passionate about inspiring the younger generation. When I was younger I lacked confidence, especially when it came to my deafness. Looking back, I wish I had been more open with people. I was embarrassed to say I was deaf or if I was struggling in a situation.

“To anyone who is deaf I would say you can do whatever you want. Don't be afraid, just go for it.”

Watch Gladiators on BBC One on Saturday at 5:50pm or watch on catch up on iPlayer

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