Tyler Bate's journey of self development, philosophy, veganism, and the quest to be better

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  • Tyler Bate in action

    The unexamined life is not worth living.

    The words of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, and generally not the words you expect to be quoted by many 23-year-old athletes.

    Quiet, considered, and thoughtful, WWE superstar Tyler Bate’s outlook on life belies his years, with what we see of him on TV barely scratching the surface.

    Far from the bright lights and razzmatazz of the WWE, Bate, a Brit who can be seen on the brand’s NXT UK platform, is on a constant journey of self-discovery, analysing and refining everything from his own self, relationships, and all that fits into the rich tapestry of life.

    Thrust into the limelight at a relatively young age, surrounded by larger-than-life characters all vying for limited air time, the WWE, while being a land of opportunity, can chew up and spit out many an aspiring superstar unable to adapt to a quite surreal working environment.

    Although Bate would acknowledge he’s living a dream, there is far more to his existence than that, and ultimately what defines him. You sense that helps in his line of work.

    “I have felt for years that I have a bit of an older head on me, I’m kind of an old soul,” he explains to Sport360 from his home in the UK.

    “I think it came from having a passion for life and want to experience life’s simplicities in their fullest.”

    Bate talks about the need to concentrate on those things that are essentially ‘you’, and how the development of traits you already have can often supersede the chasing of new ones.

    His self-awareness is palpable.

    “I think people get so caught up in fulfilling roles and doing stuff all the time that they forget to be themselves. People are so occupied with doing, they don’t ‘be’. Part of ‘being’ is just stopping and having a good look in the mirror, a good look inside yourself.

    “Examine your life, look at what you like and don’t like and just do something about it.”

    This self-reflection and constant evolution has manifested in many forms, from his diet, Bate is a staunch vegan, to his training, and ultimately outlook on wrestling.

    This idea of being yourself often doesn’t fit well in professional wrestling, with most of his contemporaries portraying a character that, in some form or another, is larger than life. Tyler Bate, however, portrays Tyler Bate. And he is more than comfortable with that.

    With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he currently finds himself locked-down in the UK, away from our TV screens, but very much using the time to discover.

    He is learning to play the piano, and also strums a ukulele, he will read philosophy and meditate, or simply let nature provide the backdrop of his entertainment – he recalls being fascinated by watching the process of a spider catching, wrapping, and eating a fly in his home recently.

    “I feel very lucky to be on a more privileged side of the economy,” he says. “I don’t have to struggle for money, I’ve got food and a house, and I have plenty of toys to play with to keep my mind and body active.

    “I don’t get bored because any time I find myself bored I just sit and meditate. Even doing nothing I can make something out of.”

    Being vegan is another important part of Bate’s life, both for health and conscientious grounds.

    He admits to knowing little about it at first but paid more attention when some of his closest friends became vegan.

    “One of my best friends went vegan before me, and around the same time Pete (fellow WWE Superstar Pete Dunne) went vegan,” he explains. “Before I knew about veganism I was neither for nor against it, I was completely on the fence. I had no information so I had no right to make a decision or have an opinion on it.”

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    The moon invented natural rhythm.

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    “There is the environmental impact animal agriculture has and being vegan can prevent and decrease, there is also a closer ethical side of things. People have dogs but fail to see the connection with other sentient beings, I don’t think it is fair to put a hierarchy on how sentient something is.

    “There’s also the health benefits that people will talk about, lowering cholesterol for instance. A lot of people would talk about having more energy, feeling a lot lighter, and it all sounded appealing to me. The more you learn, the less you can ignore.”

    Despite his feelings, Bate is not one to force things on others.

    “I make clear to people that diet it very individual, what works for me won’t work for everybody. I will always be an advocate for veganism but I will never tell somebody veganism is right for them and their health.”

    Fitting hand in hand with diet is Bate’s training.

    Not too long ago he would be seen powerlifting. Shifting some serious weight for his five-foot seven-inch frame. He had built his body weight up to the mid-90kgs, but in another bout of self reflection has since dropped into the low 80s, concreting on quality muscle mass, and functional gains rather than the ability to move heavier mass.

    Those powerlifting days were well chronicled on his Instagram account – progress in lifting heavy weights can be addictive, but his feed has shifted to a much more spiritual feel.

    “It was not a conscious decision that I made, it was more a change of personality,” Bate explains. “I was posting a lot of stuff about training and the gym because it was a huge part of my life and I was extremely passionate about it, but sometimes people’s passions change.

    “The thing with powerlifting and lifting really heavy weight is it is not really sustainable while I am wrestling so often. My body is not really getting much chance to recover, I am just asking a lot of my body, and it can only give so much.

    “Spirituality is so vast and infinite, the things you can learn, and it is just interesting. I started reading more about philosophy and took a turn down the more spiritual side of things.

    “I am trying to be as efficient as possible in as many different aspects of using my body. Everything from being flexible to being explosive. Even simple things that people neglect like simple coordination and balance.”

    And so to WWE. While many will aspire to championship reigns, merchandise sales, talk-show appearances, and being ‘the face of the company’, Bate is typically reflective of his reasoning for being in the business.

    “I want to be involved in things that people care about all the time, regardless of my role,” he says. “Regardless of whether I am the good guy or the bad guy, the tag-team wrestler or the singles wrestler, the guy who wins or the guy who loses, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I play that role to the best of my ability and people care. That is just my goal with wrestling as a whole. Winning championships would be great, and I would love to, but that’s not my be all and end all.”

    And therein seems to lie the wholesome truth around Tyler Bate. Be the best version of you, make the best of your best bits, be a critical-thinker, keep evolving, enjoy life for what it is, and be a good person – and a whole lot more.

    It is not a lesson you are often taught by a 23-year-old pro wrestler, but certainly one we can all take something from.

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