WSU alum goes from pro wrestler to author

By Daniel Agnew
The WSU Sunflower
One Wichita State alumnus lives his life one giant leap at a time, from WSU Sigma Phi Epsilon president to professional wrestler to Catholic school teacher to novelist.
While pursuing a degree in elementary education at WSU, Thomas Angelo spent the majority of his time contributing to the Greek society as Sigma Phi Epsilon’s chapter president.
After completing his degree, Angelo decided it was time to move toward the career he had wanted since the fifth grade.
“If I want to do this, I have to do this now,“ he said.
At the age of 22, Angelo embarked on the journey of his lifelong dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
“It’s a silly dream, but you know, I’ve always had the philosophy that if you want to try something, it doesn’t matter how silly it is,” he said. “You gotta go for it.“
He moved to Missouri, leaving Wichita and everything else he knew behind.
“That’s just the price for following your dreams,” Angelo said.
Knowing no one in Missouri, Angelo lived in social isolation, working at a nearby prison.
Soon, he became immersed in professional wrestling, under the guise of infamous Soviet villain Angelo von Klaw.
As a villain, he was often greeted by shouts of anger from the energetic crowd.
“It was so much fun being the bad guy. It’s easier to get people to hate you in wrestling than it is to cheer for you,“ Angelo said. “With pro wrestling at that level, it’s kind of like AAA baseball. It’s a small group, so there are less fans and attendance at the matches. But, I thought it’s a lot more fun that way, because you could get really up close and personal with the fans.”
After experiencing his dream, Angelo decided to leave the world of professional wrestling.
He moved back to Wichita to teach elementary history at Resurrection Elementary School, as well as coach football, wrestling and track at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School.
“He’s a storyteller, so that’s good when teaching history. He really relates well with kids of all ages,“ said Jamie Finkeldei, principal at Resurrection. “It’s amazing that he finds time to do all that he does.”
Angelo then decided to aim for a new goal, After his return to Wichita, he set his mind to writing the children’s novel “Eliza Peel: One Foot In The Grave,“ which follows a girl whose family moves into a haunted mansion.
He spent time researching the novel by working with the Midwest Paranormal Response Team as a paranormal investigator.
“That was partial inspiration for the book,” Angelo said. “It was a blast.“
During the process of writing the book, which took just over a year, Angelo made sure his project didn’t take precedence over his relationship with his wife.
“He was really good at keeping a balance of his writing and our social life,” said his wife Emily Angelo.
After completion of the novel in 2006, Angelo started sending copies to publishers, but with little luck.
“I decided to go the self-publishing route,“ he said. “I had some really nice compliments from publishers. It’s tough to get your foot in the door.”
Angelo’s book was published and can be found at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. However, he isn’t stopping there.
Angelo is working on another book, a western theme with a twist of fantasy. He plans on writing it while attending graduate school to become a counselor.
His wife isn’t sitting still, either.
After Angelo’s book was published, she decided to learn Web design and created www.elizapeelbook.com to help promote her husband’s book.
Now, Emily is working towards a pilot’s license, with a vigor she attributes in part to her husband.
“He’s one of those people that goes after what he wants. He doesn’t quit,“ she said. “He’s a good inspiration for anybody who wants to follow their dreams.”

(Originally published in The Sunflower, Wichita State University's student newspaper.)