T-Ronn Hicks was 7 years old when he went to his first professional wrestling match, but he was hooked long before that. After all, wrestling has a little bit of everything — at the forefront is the always entertaining battle between good and evil, larger-than-life characters you can’t help but cheer for, and, of course, all those death-defying leaps off the top rope.
Like any wide-eyed kid with lofty goals, Hicks saw himself donning a pair of wrestling tights one day and perhaps having a championship title around his waist. Anything was possible. Like the wrestlers he adored, he just needed the right push.
“One night, I got to meet Rocky ‘Soulman’ Johnson,” the Lewisville resident said. Johnson is the late father of WWE star and actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. “He had just won the Southern Heavyweight title from Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, and I asked him, ‘How do I become successful in life?’ He told me to write down my dreams and goals and to get them out there. He said that when you see them in front of you every day, that’s what you become. So that’s what I did.”
Hicks had three goals. The first was to stop allowing himself to be bullied by the time he was 13. He accomplished that at 12 years old. The second goal was to be a pro wrestler. He did that, too. Hicks wrestled under the ring name of ‘Simply Badd’ for 18 years, winning 19 world titles on the independent circuit and becoming a five-time Hall of Famer.
“The third goal was to stop bullying [worldwide],” Hicks said. “That’s the quest we are on right now.”
Hicks, a proud husband and father of two children, retired from wrestling in 2012 and is better known these days locally and across the nation as the champion against bullying. His Simply Badd Ministry and outreach and mentoring programs such as Stop Bullying Our Purpose (S.B.O.P.) are all geared toward that anti-bullying message and building stronger, loving, and caring communities one child at a time.
Hicks is affiliated with the WWE’s Be a Star anti-bullying program and Champions Against Bullying. He’s received several Humanitarian awards for his work and official proclamations from Denton County, the cities of Lewisville and Highland Village, and the state of Texas. He’s also written two books, including “My Inside is Brighter Than My Outside,” which chronicles his personal struggles and triumphs over bullies and growing up in a single-parent home.
“I believe bullying can be stopped. But everyone has to play their role,” Hicks said.
Every 90 seconds, a child is being bullied at school. That can include everything from physical confrontations to verbal and cyber-bullying on social media and other channels. Hicks said much of this is because too many people are living selfish, angry, and jealous lives — and what’s worse is that they are not happy inside.
Naturally, if you’re not happy within, it’s nearly impossible to love and give happiness to others.
Children are the ones who get hurt the most by this mindset, Hicks said. He is constantly lifting them up, promoting love and friendship, and teaching them what he calls his Fabulous Four: courage, confidence, self-esteem, and Zion faith.
“I’ve always been a champion for the kids,” he said. “What I’m noticing is that they don’t have mentors, and they aren’t loving themselves. I came from a single-parent home, but from then to now is a totally different age. My mom raised five kids and worked three jobs, but she also taught us that to love someone else, we have to love ourselves first. That’s not what I’m seeing right now. Today, it’s a me-me-me attitude, and that’s what builds up the frustration, anger, and jealousy. And that leads to bullying. These kids need positive role models. When we start loving these kids, that’s when life gets better. They have to know they are loved. If they don’t feel the love, that’s when we have children acting the way they do.”
He added, “I thrive every day to be the best I can possibly be. And the rest of the world has to see me the same way.”
Hicks was always preaching a similar message during his wrestling days, learning life lessons on and away from the mat from guys like the Junkyard Dog and Bobo Brazil Jr. But he didn’t realize that was God’s true calling for him until a couple of years before he retired. It was May, 2010 and his daughter, Lexi, was in the 2nd grade at Degan Elementary in Lewisville.
“She comes up to me one day and says, ‘Dad, I need you to come to the school and speak to us on bullying.’ As a parent, my first question was, ‘Are you being bullied, baby?’ She said, ‘No, dad. I just think we need to be proactive instead of reactive.’ Mind you; this is coming from a second-grader. So I reached out to her teacher and then got connected to the school counselor. I remember taking off on a Thursday and just sharing with the kids the importance of not being a bully.”
It didn’t take long for other schools to catch on. One speaking engagement became two, and then several more over the next few years. In 2014, Hicks got a call from a school in Scott City, Kansas. The city was so small that the airport closed at 8:30 p.m., so Hicks offered to drive the nearly 530 miles to speak to their children.
Since then, he’s been to Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, all over Texas, and beyond.
In 2015, he was invited to the Anti-Bullying Zone podcast, and the episode had more than 5 million listeners from all over the world. His outreach program provides helpful information and effective tools to help victims and families to get through some difficult times and deal with bullying and the effects it can have on a person. He has helped with several countries such as New Zealand and Australia, and locally, his Game Changers/Simply Badd Life Coaching program works with students in nine schools. He is currently working with 54 students per week.
On Oct. 31, he held his 8th annual Party for Peace No Bullying Event virtually.
Hicks’ mission continues to grow and has a following beyond his wildest dreams. He’s developed personal relationships with governors, county commissioners, chiefs of police, local principals, school counselors, parents, families, churches, juvenile facilities, PTAs, professional athletes, current and former wrestlers, and more.
All of them can’t wait to see a day when there’s no more bullying.
“I still have relationships with legends and even current wrestlers; I’m telling them that I’m envious of them because of all the TV exposure and the great things they are doing. But they all tell me that they envy me because I’m making a real difference,” Hicks said. “I wouldn’t change anything about being able to live out my childhood dream, but I’ve always been about the kids. The Lord told me that I was going to help save this generation, and that’s what I want to do.”
He added, “For me, you have to be the change you want to see when you look in the mirror.”