A FORMER Bradford Bulls Academy star has swapped the rugby pitch for the wrestling ring as he pursues his WWE dream.

Luke Menzies, 32, now lives in Orlando, Florida, as he pursues a career in World Wrestling Entertainment, a world away from his childhood as a student at Spen Valley Sports College in Liversedge.

He stays true to his West Yorkshire roots in his wrestling persona. Named Ridge Holland, he walks to the ring wearing a flat cap, calling himself the Bother Causer and using Northern Grit as a hashtag. His Twitter page also features a black and white photograph of Albert Terrace in Saltaire.

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He is currently wrestling in the promotion's NXT UK spin-off promotion and hopes to make his way up to the main roster.

Mr Menzies still has strong roots in the Bradford district as his father, Alan Menzies, who used to play rugby league for Odsal Sedbergh, lives in Shipley.

Luke said: "Being based in Orlando is great and being in the WWE is....sounds cliche, a dream come true. It's hard work and I relish it.

"The NXT UK roster is full of hungry talent wanting to improve and it gives me the opportunity to sharpen my skills, grow and work towards been a polished performer.

"Ridge Holland is just an extension of me. He keeps himself to himself, likes to be physical when the time is right and doesn't mind causing a bit of bother if the mood takes him.

"The hat he wears is an homage to Yorkshire heritage and the hardworking fellas that Yorkshire is synonymous with.

"I dish out my own version of Northern/Yorkshire grit in the squared circle.

"There's a slight Peaky Blinders influence along with a dash of Jack the Ripper and Bill Sykes from Oliver.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"I'm immensely proud of my Yorkshire roots, my boots have 'Made in Yorkshire' stitched into the back of them.

"Sometimes people in the States can't understand me and don't get my sense of humour but that's tough. It's me and I can't change my spots."

He said: "I get back to Bradford/Liversedge usually at Christmas time each year.

"I'm in the UK more often with NXT but we're so busy it's hard to catch up with people."

Luke also revealed his own sporting past in Bradford before he went on to pursue his own career in rugby league, playing as a prop for clubs including Batley Bulldogs, York City Knights and Toronto Wolfpack between 2007 and 2017.

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He then went on to chase his dreams of a career in the ring and had a tryout with WWE after six months and is now based in Orlando at the WWE’s Performance Center and wants to feature on its biggest annual show.

He added: "My dad played for Odsal Sedbergh and then Birkenshaw so it was inevitable that I would become a Bulls fan.

"Going to Odsal to watch and then actually playing for the bulls academy later on down the line. I lived between Batley and Liversedge.

"I was never truly happy playing rugby, a lot of it was trying to please other people but I felt unfulfilled, I always wanted to wrestle.

"I have a lot to thank rugby league for, it made me grow thick skinned and it cultivated my work ethic. I would love to see more players try and make the crossover.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"Of course main eventing WrestleMania is the ultimate goal but for now its just about improving every time I get in the ring and enjoying myself while learning as much as possible.

"If I can inspire a small town guy or girl to take a leap of faith and go follow their dreams in spite of whatever situation they are in or in spite of other people's opinions on what they should do then that's a win."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: