Wilbur McDougall: Down not out video

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Trailer for upcoming documentary Wilbur: King in the Ring.

Wilbur McDougall is a shadow of his former self, and he couldn't be happier.

In the past year he has bought a house, wrestled, fronted a band, and starred in a documentary where he confessed he was excited about seeing his entire penis.

His new viewpoint on life came thanks to a dramatic weight loss following gastric sleeve surgery in July 2016.

Wilbur and Ollie settle their differences with an epic wrestling contest.
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Wilbur and Ollie settle their differences with an epic wrestling contest.

At his peak the Dunedin man tipped the scales at 197kg. Now he's 85kg lighter. And does he feel better?

"My life has changed so much, it is ridiculous."

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And now the 30-year-old is also the undisputed heavyweight star of new documentary: Wilbur: The King in the Ring.

Not bad for someone euphemistically described as a "chubby" kid by his mother (another star of the film), and "fat c---" by strangers when he dared venture into town.

McDougall said he once read a  quote from a fellow fat person who said he stopped getting drive-by heckles once his weight dropped to 160kg.

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 "It's like a barometer, I was exactly the same".

Now he doesn't even get a second glance from hecklers, whom he used to report to police for "bad driving" to exact his revenge.

His weight ballooned once when he left his family home and his mother's cooking, and he spent years "eating crap food". It left him hating his own body and cost him his confidence around women.

But McDougall insists any attempts by the filmmaker to show him as the "sad, really depressed guy who stayed in his room" was met with a swift rebuke rather than a trademark wrestling piledriver or dropkick.

Some of the best moments of the documentary is the tension between McDougall's best friend and director, J. Ollie Lucks, who increasingly blurs the line between fact and fiction.

Wilbur, King in the Ring: a story of gastric band surgery and wrestling.
supplied

Wilbur, King in the Ring: a story of gastric band surgery and wrestling.

McDougall said he was in a vulnerable position at times, with those feelings amplified by the constant presence of cameras during the days he wasn't at work.

A scene of him emerging from a swimming pool with "whale carcass" body complete with loose skin was one of those moments, he said.

McDougall admits he threatened to walk out on the documentary, after he caught Lucks planting junk food waste to make it look like his subject had relapsed.

"I refused to go ahead with the filming until he admitted he did that."

And Lucks did admit it, with that omission and subsequent tension all caught on film.

The blurred lines between their friendship and the desire to make the documentary "wasn't awesome, and it wasn't fun".

"I pissed him off, and he pissed me off."

And now, with a new lease of life does he feel the same way?

"He is still in my top 10 friend list," he concedes.

The pair have known each other since 2005 when they were in the same Theatre 101 class at the University of Otago, and McDougall relishes the chance to deliver a very accurate impersonation of Lucks' German accent.

McDougall turned down Lucks' first approach to film a documentary, but reconsidered a year later when the wrestling angle was suggested.

The tension between the pair is played out in several surreal scenes when the pair battle each other in a wrestling match with a picturesque backdrop of an Otago landscape.

That's a far cry from the venues where the impressively bearded McDougall once wrestled under the moniker King Wilbur.

But King Wilbur - the King is dead, long live the King - was laid to rest after his operation and a new persona sought.

McDougall said he had always loved the spectacle of wrestling, the athleticism combined with showmanship, with the documentary including home video of the self-confessed "chubby kid" demonstrating his own wrestling moves.

Favourite wrestler? ''Without a doubt 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin: his character was amazing."

McDougall's operation on July 14, 2016 meant he couldn't wrestle for eight months due to concerns over his stomach lining, and he also remained conscious of his excess skin.

He hoped one day to get his weight down to 100kg, and perhaps an operation to remove some of the skin he is in.

So a fighting and fit McDougall meant the creation of his new slimmed down alter ego, Dr Feelgood, a nod to his love of music: "I love wrestling and rock n roll."

The slimmer Dr Feelgood, who comes out to the crowd playing outrageous guitar licks, no longer "gets gassed" in the ring.

That's in stark contrast to King Wilbur who would be exhausted just from his approach to the ring.

McDougall first got into wrestling, albeit as a commentator in 2009, and began to wrestle a year later.

The film gives a glimpse behind the show-boating, with he and an opponent discussing their moves before a bout.

That included him launching a spinning heel kick at his opponent, moments after whispering into his ear that he was planning the move. "I had never done that before."

That brief chat, combined with some improvisation was a feature of wrestling, and wasn't a million miles from the documentary itself, he said.

"It's a wee bit like the film, there is moments of improvisation and moments of surprise, not knowing what is real and what is not."

But he insists the film, planted junk food rubbish or not, "is pretty close to realism".

The viewer is there when McDougall is high-fived by kids on his way out of the wrestling ring, and when he moves into his new house - bought without any reference to smashed avocados.

So just what does he eat?

Well, for breakfast and lunch he eats a pita bread with chicken, lettuce and tomato, with dinner fish or steak with a salad.

And snacks? Crispbread, carrots, hummus.

That goal of 100kg can't be to far away.

And with that weight loss McDougall said he enjoying life more than ever, and was "definitely hyped" about the film coming out.

"I'm excited about people seeing this great Kiwi film.

"I have no regrets, I just love the end product," says McDougall who could just as well be talking about himself.

Wilbur – King In the Ring plays the Doc Edge festival in Auckland and Wellington before releasing nationwide via Demand.Film

 - Stuff

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