Gladiators star Cobra seriously ill in Kent hospital with pneumonia

Ex-TV Gladiator Cobra, 55, is seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia and pleurisy after ‘destroying’ his body with decades of intense workouts

  • Michael Willson has been in Kent hospital for three weeks with pneumonia
  • Bodybuilder, 55, claimed it was ‘touch and go’ and struggles to move his arm
  • TV star added that he ‘self-inflicted’ this by pushing through pain in the past 
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A former Gladiators star is seriously ill in hospital with pneumonia after ‘destroying’ his body with decades of extreme workouts.

Michael Willson, who was known as Cobra on the show during the 1990s, told the Sun it was ‘touch and go’. 

The former bodybuilder, 55, is suffering from a number of health problems including severe acute pancreatitis and pleurisy, a condition which causes sharp chest pains.

He also needs two new hips and struggles to move his right arm thanks to a rupture in his shoulder.


Gladiators star Cobra, whose real name is Michael Willson, has been in hospital for three weeks with pneumonia 


He also needs two new hips and struggles to move his right arm thanks to a rupture in his shoulder

Mr Willson told the Sun: ‘I’m only half a Gladiator now. It’s been touch and go. I don’t feel like I’m kicking the bucket at the minute, but it will only take another cold or cough and I’m in trouble.’ 

He added: ‘I pushed the limit and listened to silly Arnold Schwarzenegger saying you’ve got to take more pain than your competitors.

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‘But pain is your body saying “oi, pack it in”. You need to pull back, not push through. But for 20-plus years I was: push, push, push.’

So far Mr Willson has been in the hospital in Kent for three weeks, having been hospitalised before Christmas as well after his pancreas swelled up.

He also claimed that his co-stars including James Crossley, who was known as Hunter, are far healthier because they didn’t ‘self-inflict’ pain by carrying on.


Mr Willson said: ‘I’m only half a Gladiator now. It’s been touch and go. I don’t feel like I’m kicking the bucket at the minute, but it will only take another cold or cough and I’m in trouble’


Gladiators, which ran from 1992 until 2000, regularly pulled in more than 12million viewers


Mr Willson added: ‘I pushed the limit and listened to silly Arnold Schwarzenegger saying you’ve got to take more pain than your competitors’

Mr Willson said that he once fractured his hip on the ITV show but carried on regardless – without telling the show’s producers. He also powered through a number of spinal injuries.

Gladiators, which ran from 1992 until 2000, regularly pulled in more than 12million viewers.

Mr Willson was known for his high-kicks and splits on the widely popular show.

In October last year, some of the original cast – Ace, Panther, Cobra, Jet, Hunter and Scorpio – reunited at a convention.

The group posed together at a TV, Film, Comic and Memorabilia Convention called Stoke CON Trent in Staffordshire. 

Mr Willson slipped into his old costume and revealed his incredible guns for the cameras.


Mr Willson was known for his high-kicks and splits on the popular ITV show

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