Auburn wrestler Luke Robinson has managed to turn his runner-up finish in last summer’s “WWE Tough Enough” contest and reality TV show into something much more permanent. Robinson said he’s working to create a world-class fitness program centered in Maine.
“Wrestling is still my primary goal, but I think this can be a sustainable, lifelong job post-wrestling,” Robinson said. “Even if that career never comes to complete fruition, I am so passionate about the fitness and nutrition side of life and about changing people’s lives.”
Robinson, a 2003 Edward Little High School graduate, was already developing a name for himself on the New England independent wrestling circuit when he was picked to take part in “Tough Enough.”
The reality TV show centered on 14 contestants, nine men and five women, competing for the chance to be the newest WWE superstar as they were trained and judged by retired wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin. The show was taped in the spring of 2011 and aired last summer on the USA Network.
Contestants lived together, faced weekly challenges and were followed day and night by cameras. They were eliminated one by one over the course of the series’ 10-show run.
Robinson quickly befriended 28-year-old Jeremiah Riggs, but ran afoul of rival Andy Leavine, 23. The three were the finalists, with Robinson and Leavine as the final two.
Austin gave the Tough Enough title to Leavine during a live “WWE Raw” show in June.
Robinson said his weekends have been full of wrestling events since the show ended. He was a regional wrestler before, but the show made him recognizable to wrestling fans across the country.
Robinson flies to Alaska for the first week of January to take part in a wrestling event in Juneau. He flies to Utah in March to wrestle “Tough Enough” cast mate Martin Casaus.
“And I’ve gotten to do tons of fan fest signing events in New York and New Jersey,” he said. “It’s a convention for fans, and I get to meet them and sign photos and T-shirts.”
In the meantime, he started operating a fitness boot camp at his north Auburn home. He’s hoping to turn it into something permanent, a full-time fitness experience in the Maine woods.
“I imagine executives that can take a week or two off in the summer,” he said. “Part of it would be nutrition and cooking, how what they eat affects their lives. I want it to be a weeklong overhaul for people while they’re in a world-class Maine resort-like setting.
He has also been training his black Labrador retriever Gunner for certification as a medical therapy dog. Gunner is approved to visit patients at Central Maine Medical Center, and Robinson said he’s working to get him certified for Maine Medical Center.
“They do hospital-specific testing to show that he has no aversion to beeping medical equipment and wheelchairs and things like that,” he said. “It was directly influenced by our visit to the UCLA children’s hospital during the last week we did the show. That really influenced me.”
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