Former WWE Superstar Rico got a late start in the wrestling industry. It wasn't until he was 37 years old that he started training for the ring and he made his WWE debut at the age of 40. Just three years after his WWE debut, Rico retired so that means he had lots of time to fill before and after his short stint as a professional wrestler.
Rico joined Ryback's podcast where he talked about his careers both before and after wrestling and why he decided to hang up his boots after just a few years in the ring.
"I was a cop when I was 23 in North Las Vegas and I spent two years in the force there, and then they hired a new Chief and I didn't like him," stated Rico. "So, you know when you're 26 years old you're like, oh, I will go do something else. You know, you're young, and that was my attitude back then."
Before getting into the wrestling business, Rico spent time as a cop, a paramedic, a bouncer and was even on American Gladiators. He started training for wrestling in 1998 and was sent to WWE's developmental promotion a year later. He made his WWE debut in 2002 and was unexpectedly released two years later.
"I finished my run with WWE - I honored my contract until the end, and I was sent home in November of 2004," said Rico. "But I honored it until February 2nd of 2005 because All Japan was calling me. I went there when my contract was over and Bull Buchanan and I had a run with the All Asia Tag Team Titles, and then I really had to think. Here I am at 44, do I really want to go to Japan for three-four weeks at a time and leave the family? I thought, you know, I really don't. I said, well, let me put feelers out to see what I want to do.
"Reading my background, you know that I am a jack of all trades, master of none, so I felt it out."
Rico then went back to what he was doing before wrestling which was hold various jobs. That included going back into law enforcement even though he had to go through training again because it had been so long. But he completed the training and once again became a police officer in Nevada while also working with the U.S. Marshals.
Neither wrestling nor a career in law enforcement is easy on the body and Rico had a health scare in 2016. His friend posted on Facebook that Rico was battling multiple health issues related to a series of concussions including a collapsed lung, heart problems and memory loss.
"What happened was...it's just not wrestling with my life. Everything I have ever done is full contact. I remember somebody approaching me when I got out of professional wrestling and wanting me to join that class action lawsuit against Vince McMahon," Rico recalled. "I was like, how am I going to join that when I have all of this [police officer, U.S. Marshals, etc]?
"Vince McMahon was only seven years of my life. I can't put that all on him, so I didn't even join that stupid thing. So, what happened was in 2005 I started my police career and that is a rough job in itself. I wasn't a guy that sat in the cop car. I walked, was around people, especially with the tourists here [in Las Vegas]. I worked graveyard for like six years, from 10 at night to 8 in the morning because we worked ten-hour shifts. And some days with the Marshals, I worked the night shift, Tuesday and Wednesday morning and then go work Wednesday day."
Life in the ring and on patrol took its toll on Rico who says his health scare caused him to spend 20 hours a day in bed. He was able to pull through his medical issues with the help of donations from fans and fellow wrestlers including Chris Jericho who donated $3,000 to a GoFundMe account.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Conversations with the Big Guy Ryback with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.