Santino Marella won his share of honors in WWE. He held the Intercontinental Championship twice and the United States Championship once. He and Vladimir Kozlov were Tag Team Champions. And disguised as his twin sister Santina, he was crowned as the inaugural Miss WrestleMania and then fired by future President Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, Santino suffered neck injuries that forced him to retire from wrestling in 2014. Although he thought WWE would eventually find a non-wrestling role for him, he was surprised to find himself released from the company in 2016. He was never a main eventer, but he was great at making people laugh, and there are those who’d like to see him in the Hall of Fame.
Since his release Santino ― real name Anthony Carelli ― has mostly focused his time and attention on Battle Arts Academy, the training gym he co-founded in 2013 in his home town of Mississauga, Ontario. Among the classes he teaches there is judo, a martial art Santino trained extensively in before he became a wrestler.
This past Saturday, September 30, Santino decided on a whim to participate in the 2017 Asahi Judo Open, a regional judo tournament held by the Asahi Judo Club in Kitchener, Ontario. According to his Instagram, he fought in four matches, won three, lost two, and finished with the Bronze in his category. His Instagram post about it is a portrait of a man proud of accomplishing something for its own sake:
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This weekend I did something kind of crazy, I competed in my first judo tournament in about 19 years. I have been working out consistently each morning and sort of found myself in OK shape, plus my body has been pretty pain-free so on a whim I decided to fight this weekend at the Asahi annual tournament in the open weight category, I will admit I was not in judo competition shape however I had a great time out there, i won three matches and lost one in overtime by penalty and wound up with a bronze. It was great to compete in front of some old friends, my wife, my dad, my students, and some old teammates. 43 years old, post WWE, post 2 neck surgeries, I'm a little banged up but damn that was fun.
Santino Marella spent his WWE career getting banged up in the name of everyone else’s fun, so it’s nice to see him succeeding at what he likes to do. And maybe a bronze medal in a regional judo tournament doesn’t sound very impressive to you, but that’s already more than CM Punk has accomplished in his post-WWE martial arts career.