Mohican warrior: Devrae sporting his distinctive haircut. *File photo
Mohican warrior: Devrae sporting his distinctive haircut. *File photo
Election hopeful  Devrae Noel-Simmons has gone through many transformations in his life.

He’s been a semi-pro footballer for the Oregon Thunderbolts, a champion bodybuilder, a national team rugby player and family man and entreprenour.

He’s taken some wrong turns, too. He admits he had a period of using cocaine that resulted in an 18-month suspended sentence for possession of the drug in 2008.

Well known throughout Bermuda, Mr Noel-Simmons could be easily picked out on the rugby field by his purple mohawk haircut.

Sporting a more sober black Mohican stripe this week, the fitness instructor and nightclub security manager introduced Bermuda to his latest incarnation: Meet Devrae Noel-Simmons — politician.

Characters don’t come much more colourful than the UBP’s unconventional candidate for the Warwick by-election.

But he says he won’t compromise his personality  — or his hairstyle — as he attempts to build his political profile.

“The hair is growing back. It’s going to be blue on election night,” he said.

If elected, he says he would retain the look, adding a splash of colour to the often reserved House of Assembly.

“I don’t see why not. It’s just a haircut, whats the worst that could happen? Nobody asks Ashfield DeVent to cut his dreads; the haircut is part of who I am. That’s not what makes the person.”

So how does a former bodybuilder with a multi-coloured Mohawk and a conviction for cocaine possession convince the electorate in a PLP stronghold to switch sides?

The answer, says Mr Noel-Simmons, is simply to be himself.

“Sometimes you need to shake things up a bit. We just can’t continue with the same old, same old.

“I like being different. I like being separate from the rest.”

He feels being honest about that drug conviction two years ago, telling people about that aspect of his past and taking a test to show he is drug free, will help get past the issue.

Wake-up call

“I can’t change it, I can’t go backwards. I need to move forward and Warwick needs to move forward.”

Mr. Noel-Simmons, who runs his own personal training business and is vice president of DPA Security,  describes the incident as a mistake and a wake-up call.

“I said to myself ‘You are better than this. You’ve done things that not many Bermudians have done — been a pro athlete, travelled the world — you have a responsibility to be better than this’.”

Mr. Noel-Simmons said his English wife Susie (they have a two-year-old son, Dante), helped him through the hard times.

Many people know him as a fitness instructor and a rugby player. He was also a running back in the Pacific Northwest League for the Oregon Thunderbolts.

His two seasons in American Football began in 2000 after a chance meeting in Flanagan’s with the team’s coach, who was so impressed with his size and physique that he offered to fly him out to Portland to play for his team.

It wasn’t the first time he had been noticed for his physique. Mr Noel-Simmons once featured in a local news article for his prodigious weightlifting ability — deadlifting 720lbs.

He was also vice president of the Bermuda Bodybuilding Association and won a host of international competitions — including the famous Muscle Beach Bodybuilding Championships.

Unsurprisingly, he says, no one has shut the door in his face as he’s been out and about canvassing.

And swapping those bodybuilding trunks for a suit and tie has been a surprisingly seamless transition.

“I don’t mind wearing the suit. Underneath I’m still the same person.”

Despite that concession to the political dress code he believes the electorate is ready for a different type of candidate.

“The stigma of a politician is not that good, they are considered like lawyers. What we need is to bring some stability back.

“We need people that can inspire others and get them moving. For where Bermuda is right now the whole idea of what a politician is, is going to have to change.”