The Devil Came Down to Georgia

By Jeff Vrabel
Photography by Colin Douglas Gray

From personal training and embodying wrestler personas like The Devil’s Advocate to bouncing at night clubs and instructing personal security classes, Sean Haire has made a career of jumping from one tough-guy profession to the next. Now he’s trying his hand at something new: hair styling.

Sean Haire is a former professional wrestler/mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who has also been a 17-time Toughman competition winner, boxer, personal trainer, strip club bouncer, bodyguard, trainer of other bodyguards, and three-time WCW World Tag Team Wrestling Champion. He still looks the part: At 41, he’s 6′5″, 280 pounds, and with the fire-and-spiderweb tattoos, it’s hard to miss him in a coffee shop that’s currently really into Jack Johnson music.

Two or three times during our interview, Haire says something cool and outside the window, perfectly timed lightning shatters the sky. Some people have a flair for the dramatic. Which is one of the reasons he plans to make a great hair stylist.

He’s also got a flair for the gregarious, and a disarming forthrightness. He mentions, not without regret, the days and nights that found him “really mean,” and then worries how that would sound in this article. His past has been on occasion messy—I mention I used to work at the paper on Hilton Head, and he responds half-jokingly, “Oh, so you’ve read some bad stuff about me.”

On the other hand, he has an awful lot of pictures of his cat on his phone.

Over the course of two hours, we blaze through his history as a fighter (street and otherwise), his handwritten and long-abandoned professional wrestling personas (including Sean O’Haire and the never-quite-finalized Devil’s Advocate), his partially reconstructed and reinforced titanium jaw and orbital socket, the National Kodak Medallion of Excellence award he won for photography in high school, the time he fought a K-1 kickboxing champion and didn’t know it (he lost), his boxing stint in New Jersey, several stories involving “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, two marriages, two divorces, an almost-detour into professional mountain biking, his girlfriend of four years, a Savannah anesthesiologist he calls a “calming influence” and enough WCW/WWE name-dropping to deeply entertain a writer who grew up watching scrambled WrestleManias on pay-per-view.

One could be forgiven for struggling to find the thread that connects all of this, but before long it’s clearer: a mix of constant motion, found opportunities and an inclination to take the unplanned detours at the moments when many people would find excuses to back away. Sean finds a way to think, “Why not?”

To read the full story, grab a copy of South magazine.

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