Shark Wrestler Paul Marshallsea Fired For Vacationing On Sick Leave
When a tourist was filmed yanking a 6-foot-long shark away from children, the 62-year-old became an overnight hero and Internet sensation. But Paul Marshallsea says that his good deed backfired, as his employer fired him and his wife shortly after. "If I had not gone on to save the kids, my wife and I would still have a job," he told The Daily Mirror.
The Pant and Dowlais Boys & Girls Club, a Welsh-based charity, canned Marshallsea and his wife, Wendy, after seeing footage of Marshallsea's heroics in Australia because the couple had both been on extended sick leave for work-related stress since April. Marshallsea, formerly a project coordinator for the charity for 10 years, claimed that he and Wendy, a youth worker at the charity, had spent two months visiting friends in Queensland, Australia, because "our doctor advised us to go on holiday" as a way to relieve work-related stress, the BBC reports. He said that he'd been so devoted to his work that he was often toiling seven days a week.
The charity, however, viewed their vacation differently. In a letter to Marshallsea, which the BBC saw, the organization wrote, "Whilst unfit to work you were well enough to travel to Australia and, according to recent news footage of yourself in Queensland, you allegedly grabbed a shark by the tail and narrowly missed being bitten by quickly jumping out of the way." A second letter said, "The breakdown of the trustees' confidence and trust in you and your ability to perform the role is so great that we find that dismissal is the only course of action we can recommend."
Paul Marshallsea says he is "disgusted" by his employer's decision. "Where do I now get a job?" he said, according to The Independent. The charity has declined to comment to the press, citing the advice of its attorney.
According to news reports at the time, Marshallsea, a father of three, jumped into the water when he heard the cries of "shark" and narrowly avoided being bitten by the shark when he pulled it away from toddlers frolicking in the water.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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