By Tyler Ellerson
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney assistant professor Bryce Abbey will appear this summer on a new CBS show hosted by actor and comedian Kevin Hart. Abbey, a former Loper wrestler who teaches exercise science at UNK, will be a contestant on “TKO: Total Knock Out,” an obstacle course competition “where physical meets funny.” “‘TKO: Total Knock Out’ features people from all walks of life, where one player races through daunting obstacles while four other contestants are manning battle stations along the course, firing over-the-top projectiles in an attempt to knock them off and slow them down,” the CBS website states. Each of the 10 one-hour episodes airing this summer will feature five contestants, with the winner claiming a $50,000 prize. The series premieres 8 p.m. Wednesday (July 11), with episodes airing at 7 p.m. beginning July 18.
CBS has not announced when the episode featuring Abbey will air, and he’s not allowed to talk about his experience just yet. Abbey, who also serves as director of UNK’s Employee Health and Wellness Program, wrestled for the Lopers from 2002-05, placing in the top five at the Division II national championships each season while competing at 125 pounds. The Goodland, Kansas, native is one of six UNK wrestlers to be named a four-time All-American, and he’s second on the school’s all-time wins list with 134 victories. He was part of four teams that placed in the top 10 at the Division II national championships, including a runner-up finish in 2003, and helped the Lopers win the national duals that year.
Abbey was inducted into the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. Off the mat, he was the first Loper wrestler to be awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and he earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Education degrees, both in exercise science, from UNK. He also has a doctorate in human sciences with a specialization in nutrition and health sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Abbey has worked for UNK since 2006 and became an assistant professor in the kinesiology and sport sciences department in 2013. He and his wife Erin live in Kearney with their son, Kade, and daughter, Sloane. Mark Burnett, of “Survivor” fame, is an executive producer for “TKO: Total Knock Out” along with Hart and three others. “‘TKO’ is unlike any other competition show on television. It’s an obstacle course meets dodgeball,” Burnett said in a news release. “It will create amazing viral moments.” The “wildest competition on television” has contestants facing battle stations such as the “ball blaster,” “frisboom,” “spike launcher” and “slammer.” In addition to his standup comedy, Hart has starred in movies such as “Jumanji,” “Central Intelligence” and “Ride Along,” and he launched the Comedy Central series “Kevin Hart Presents: Hart of the City.” He has a best-selling book, “I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons,” and his own digital platform, the Laugh Out Loud Network.