Tom Latimer On His WWE Release, Battle With Alcoholism

NWA star Tom Latimer sat down with the This Is Pro Wrestling podcast in advance of NWA's When Our Shadows Fall PPV this Sunday. Latimer delved in depth into his struggles with alcoholism, in particular not realizing he had a problem at first.

"I had a problem and I have a problem," Latimer said. "There's a lot of people that can drink and they never get into trouble, nothing bad happens to them, they still make rational decisions. Those are people that can sensibly drink and I'm not one of those people. It took me a long time to realize I was an alcoholic. I always thought when I was growing up, an alcoholic was a person that was homeless, passed out on a park bench, or begging for change for alcohol. I didn't realize it's a broad spectrum."

Latimer, who wrestled as Kenneth Cameron, also detailed his release from the promotion in 2012 following a confrontation with a police officer. Even then, he was ready to admit he had an issue.

"When I got fired from WWE for a drinking related thing, for touching a cop, for one I was arrogant and I was in a good position," Latimer said. "I thought 'oh, I'll be fine." Because I'd already been arrested before that, when I'd first signed with WWE, for a DUI. So they already knew I had a drinking problem. I was oblivious to it, because I wasn't drinking every day, I was drinking occasionally. But when I'd drink that one time, I'd end up in trouble. So when they released me, they said 'go seek some help. Ya know, you've probably got a problem.'  I was still like 'nah, I don't have a problem.' And that's how I still carried on for 10 years."

Latimer would eventually become sober. Looking back on it now, while he's grateful for what he has now, he wonders why he took so long to get sober.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful now," Latimer said. "I'm in a good position, I've got a great relationship, I can run a household. I sort of just grew up. But I look back at those ten years and always ask myself 'why did it take you TEN YEARS?' There were so many chances, so many opportunities. I just honestly thought I was fine, but I was against the world. I was angry. Drinking also helped me to never deal with any of my feelings and it helped me to just not care. Cause when I did quit, and I tried to quit for several years, but finally with the help of Kailey, it was time, even though there were a million events that should have been the time. It's dealing with the emotions, that's the hard part. When I finally gave it up, there was no crutch. If I got angry, or something bad happened... you have to deal with everything."

"When you've not dealt with ten years of your emotions and your behavior, what you've done to people, the friends you lost, the marriages that have gone away and the people that you've hurt, it's a lot to deal with. But again, it's the best thing I ever did and of course I always have to be careful. Always. But I never thought I would be a person who could say they're sober. I never thought it was possible. This is a scary statement to say, but I will never and can never drink again. Because, whatever takes over my body. Whatever possesses Thomas Latimer is not me, and there is no limit to what can happen when I've had drink. I could wake up in jail on a murder charge.  I'm not willing to take that risk anymore. But that is how much it changes me as a human being."

Latimer then delved back into how he didn't understand how much trouble he was getting himself into. He revealed he would drink and drive, find himself sobbing while drinking alone in hotel rooms and finally having a wake up call when he saw how his behavior affected others.

"If no one gets anything else from this interview, maybe someone will learn that it's okay to have a drinking problem, it's normal and millions of people go through it ," Latimer said. "I was someone who never in a million years thought I could be sober. And I'm sober.  This will sound terrible, but I would drink and drive every day. I'd be wrestling and promoters would give me drink because they were nervous and thought I would die if I didn't have enough.

"I look back and it's just madness. How did I never get pulled over? I remember times drinking a lone in hotel rooms sobbing and I'm thinking 'who IS this person?" So from me, I know what it's like and it CAN be done. If you are struggling with dependency, it can be done. I'm not someone that should've recovered. Once it starts to affect other people though, it's time to say enough's enough. If you're just hurting yourself, fine, but if there're casualties because of your behavior, it's time."

Latimer's past actions have led to him being a polarizing presence in the wrestling industry, often receiving criticism on Twitter. These days he avoids social media as best as he can.

"Yeah, I avoid it like the plague," Latimer said. "If anyone listening to this follows me on Twitter, I'm sorry that I don't tweet.  I retweet, but I don't put my opinion or my feelings out there. Before, when I was drunk, I didn't care. Give me all of your hate. Whereas now, I sound like a bit of a wuss, but I get one snarky comment, it messes up my whole day. It crushes me. And I know everyone goes through this. There are people that are way more notable than me and who am I to complain?

"But Twitter, I avoid. Kailey got rid of hers for her mental health and she's loving life without it. A lot of people see it as a negative, but after everything that's happened, I sort of closed off a little bit. I try and not see any negativity and after everything that's happened to me the last ten years it's been tough, obviously. I've been so closed off, I'm happy we get to talk. It's sort of helping me get over that. I sort of shut down and shut off just to protect my own mental health, but I think now is a good time to talk about it. Sometimes I think it's nobody's business and why should I put any of this out there? But if it helps someone else, so be it."

As to why Latimer is talking about his issues now, he says its because he wants people to know he is not the same man he was at 24. Even if it is scary for him to admit his issues.

"I have to sound pretty dumb, but I wish I could be me now when I was 24," Latimer said. "I burnt every bridge, walked away from every opportunity, upset a lot of people, I don't know. I think a bit of it is I want people to know me a bit more. I think in my mind I always had this illusion of say, Undertaker. He's supposed to be this dead man. You're not supposed to be able to tweet him. He's unattainable and he's untouchable... time's have changed. I thought I wanted to be New Jack or Sabu. I want people to know that I've changed. But also it's scary to admit all of that and let people in. I've been too guarded from what people are going to say or what people are going to think. But I think it's time to talk."

You can watch the full interview below. Wrestling Inc. will have live coverage of the NWA When Our Shadows Fall PPV this Sunday.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit This Is Pro Wrestling and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription