Call him a lowly Contender, but Marc Ortega’s Season 3 “American Gladiators” Grand Champion win in 1992 was legendary. Some say it was the most definitive, the most iconic, American Gladiator moment ever. Hardcore AG fans still rave about it.
At the end of the race, Ortega threw his body over the line for a photo finish in the Eliminator event, narrowly defeating champion Joseph “Bam Bam” Mauro. Ortega, who was a chiropractic student when he tried out for the show, was chosen as one of 48 contestants from a pool of 10,000 athletes. Since then, Ortega has left the limelight behind him.
Otherwise known as Bernadette Hunt, fan-favorite Falcon was known for more than her holdover '80s hairdo. Outside the Arena, she was adored for her kindness toward fans and her dedication to charitable causes. Inside the Arena, she was a formidable force, earning Falcon the nickname "Dark Angel."
Trained as a dancer at the London Contemporary Ballet School, a back injury derailed her studies. She shifted to training as an aerobics teacher and competing in bodybuilding contests. After eight series with "Gladiators," Hunt returned to teaching fitness classes, currently at Basingstoke Sports Centre. Sadly, Hunt passed away in March 2023 and is survived by her two children.
Jade got into bodybuilding while serving six years in the U.S. Army as Sergeant Kimberly Rogers. Exceptionally athletic, she was the only girl on the high school boys' soccer team. Jade left the military to study for a bachelor's degree, and that's when she snagged the A.G. gig.
It was 1996, and Rogers was trying out to be a Contender. Landing a spot on the team as Jade, she stayed with the show for the duration. She was a formidable force in the Powerball competition. Now she stays competitive as a signing agent, holding her own in the throes of the real estate market.
With his handsome good looks and ability to go from zero to a hundred, Galen "Turbo" Tomlinson was the stuff producers dream of. Tomlinson appeared on the show from 1990-1996, then again from 1996-1998. When he tried out for the show, the young hopeful had never even seen an episode, but he didn't let that stop him.
Now, Tomlinson lives in Southern California, where he is the head coach and director of the Coast North County Volleyball Club. No one is as well-versed in the sport as him, with two decades teaching under his belt. His niece Carli went on to play professionally in Italy.
The prize money drew worldwide heptathlete Peggy Odita to "American Gladiators." The accomplished athlete was at Stanford on a sports scholarship when she first heard of A.G. Defeating a Gladiator would be a breeze, she thought. The Season 5 Grand Champion said it was way tougher than she expected.
"The Gladiators didn't play," she said. "The games were extremely physical, and it was a good day when someone didn't have to go to the hospital." Next, Odita starred in Gladiators 2000, a kid show spin-off, presiding as narrator and referee. Post-Gladiators, Odita devotes her time to her family and two children.