FORT MILL — In 2002, Fort Mill High senior Tyler Kluttz was like any other 18-year-old wondering what life was going to hold when it came to finding a profession.
A decade later, his chosen career involves a whole lot of holds – in the pro wrestling ring.
Kluttz, who goes by the ring name Brad Maddox, recently burst onto the main stage of the WWE, the Major League of professional wrestling, as the referee who hit the hulking behemoth Ryback with a low blow during his Hell in a Cell main event match against WWE champion CM Punk in late October.
Maddox then went on to wrestle Ryback earlier this month for a potential $1 million contract and was tossed into the back of an ambulance exiting the WWE almost as quickly as he came in – or at least that is how things appeared on TV.
However, the story of Brad Maddox doesn’t end there.
Maddox, who according to WWE corporate official Kevin Hennessy was off-limits for an interview because his character is in limbo, could return in the future.
Before Brad Maddox burst onto the scene in professional wrestling, the people of the City of Tega Cay and in the halls of Fort Mill High, knew him as Tyler Kluttz.
The Kluttz family has lived in Tega Cay for more than 20 years. Kluttz graduated from the College of Charleston in 2006 and married Fort Mill High grad Ryan diPretoro in 2007.
Even though he became a professional wrestler, Kluttz didn’t wrestle in high school; He played basketball for Fort Mill under current Nation Ford Athletic Director and head basketball coach Brian Turner.
Turner hadn’t heard of Kluttz’s latest career move until recently, but after looking him up online shared his thoughts about him.
“He was a good kid from a solid family,” Turner said. “Tyler gave it everything he had while in our basketball program for four years. I am truly happy for him and wish him the best.”
Kluttz and diPretoro reside in Tampa, Fla., now and he spends most of his days traveling throughout the country wrestling. He also wrestles as part of the former Florida Championship Wrestling, a developmental league of the WWE, now known as NXT Wrestling. Kluttz also has wrestled under the name Brent Wellington.
It wasn’t until after college that Kluttz decided one day he wanted to be professional wrestler.
“He liked the acting,” said his mother Janet Kluttz. “We were shocked. We said to ourselves, ‘I hope he has a plan B.’”
Kluttz quickly rose through the “minor leagues” of wrestling, starting out in Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2007 after he graduated college and went through some extensive training.
Like any concerned mother, Janet Kluttz said she worried about her son at first, but is proud of him.
“He has taken it all so seriously,” she said. “He loves what he is doing.”
Both Janet Kluttz, and Kluttz’s wife, Ryan diPretoro Kluttz, said the Brad Maddox character seen on TV is nothing like the man in real life.
“Tyler is typically pretty quiet and not loud at all,” diPretoro Kluttz said. “He is the opposite of his character.”
DiPretoro Kluttz said she was surprised at first he wanted to get into professional wrestling, but she supported him.
“I was excited,” she said. “It was something different. We were excited to go out on our own.”
Kluttz wrestled with OVW for a couple of years before going to NXT wrestling, then known as FCW.
He was promoted to the main WWE roster in August as a referee, and started working his story line up to the Hell in a Cell match between CM Punk and Ryback.
Since being tossed into the back of an ambulance by Ryback earlier this month on WWE’s TV show RAW, Kluttz hasn’t been seen back on TV.
For now, his wrestling future is only known to a select few insiders, but in the world of professional wrestling, one never knows what tomorrow may hold.