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Page last updated at 04:07 GMT, Saturday, 2 July 2005 05:07 UK

US teacher 'went sick' to wrestle

A New York teacher has apologised for taking sick leave to pursue a secret other life as a professional wrestler.

Matthew Kaye, 31, requested time off as a social studies teacher at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens in December and February, officials said.

But while colleagues thought he was recovering from illness, his website said he was taking part in wrestling competitions at home and abroad.

Mr Kaye, also known as Matt Striker, has now resigned from his teaching job.

A report by New York City's school authorities this week said Mr Kaye's mother had called in sick for him on 16 December 2004.

But his website said he landed in Tokyo on that day to "start my inaugural tour for the Zero One Company".

"I cannot express in words what this tour has meant to me as a person and as a professional wrestler," the website said.

When he returned, he told school officials he had gone to California to care for his sick sister, the report said.

'God's gifts'

In February, he handed in a doctor's note to explain a second absence.

However, his website showed photos of his appearance at a pro-wrestling world event in Philadelphia.

In a statement on the Matt Striker website, he expressed deep remorse over the events, and said he had not realised sick days and personal days "were two entirely different things".

He said he was willing to pay back the money he owed, and hoped he might get his job back, insisting that his students received excellent teaching from him.

"Look at the facts, God gave me gifts and I choose to use them to touch people's lives," he said, according to the statement.

"I choose to make the world better by entertainment and education."

Schools Special Investigator Richard Condon has recommended Mr Kaye should not be reemployed, the Associated Press reported.

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