Before he was a wrestling star, Matt Morgan was a Division I basketball transfer from Monmouth that finished his college hoops career at Chaminade.
After his basketball days were over, the 7-foot Morgan embarked on a 17-year pro wrestling career that took him to multiple countries for multiple pro organizations such as the WWE and TNA, as well as stints in Europe and Japan.
Nowadays, Morgan and wife Larissa, who was born and raised in Hawaii, reside in Longwood, Fla., where Matt is entering his second year as the town’s mayor.
“We’re changing the city day by day. It’s been an honor,” Morgan told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello. “I’ve never been more — honest to God — proud to represent a group of people than I have been with this city. It’s been a mega honor.”
In addition to wrestling, Morgan has also played a handful of roles in a brief acting career, including an appearance in American Gladiator.
“I don’t know if I’d have their attention the way I do because of the fact I had that background,” he said. “These people have seen me on TV for years. So definitely, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say that was a mega advantage for me and a mega platform that I’m hoping I’ve done justice of utilizing to help others.”
Morgan’s political career hit the ground running. He was elected mayor after less than two years of working with city officials in a number of roles.
He retired from wrestling for good on March 16, 2019, before getting elected as mayor on May 7 the following year. Perhaps the biggest part of retirement was to spend more time with his 6-year-old son Jackson, who has nonverbal autism.
“The day he was born, the minute he was born actually, the prism changes, that switch in your head goes off. You’re a dad now. So how you see this entire world, at least for me, completely and 180 degrees changed. I can’t be away from him. I’ve been begging God for 11 years to have this child and here he is in my hands and now I’m just gonna ‘see you later,’ bounce? And go wrestle on the road? No. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said.
The coronavirus pandemic is certainly an interesting time to be a politician, especially in a town like Longwood, whose population exceeds 13,000. As mayor, part of Morgan’s role is to uplift the community with messages of hope and inspiration with the #STRONGWOOD hashtag on his social media accounts.
“I’m telling the positive stories that I’m watching every single day, multiple times a day,” he said. “Different residents, small business owners, different pillars of our Longwood community that are stepping up like something you won’t believe.
“I see that multiple times a day and instead of just saying good job, I’m putting it out there. I’m letting everyone know these amazing acts that I’m watching every single day.”
Morgan’s life has taken unexpected turns, but he’s embraced every part of it. For a journey that started in his home state of Connecticut, to college in New Jersey and Hawaii and now in Florida, he says there’s no telling where the journey ends.
“As of right now, I love what I’m doing. Even though I generally hated politics and hated politicians, I don’t even know if I’ve gotten over that part, quite frankly, maybe I still do. But I think honestly, who knows, maybe one day be the governor of Florida,” he said. “Who knows, maybe be in the White House, maybe the president of the United States. Who’s to say? I just know if I continue to follow my heart and continue to bring my brothers and sisters up in life, I just think nothing but good things will happen and more doors will open with that.”