Tom Lister Jr.

Thomas "Tiny" Lister Jr. (born June 24, 1958) is an American character actor and occasional professional wrestler known for his roles as the neighborhood bully Deebo in the film Friday and its first sequel and as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element. He had two short professional wrestling stints, wrestling Hulk Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) after appearing as Zeus in the 1989 movie No Holds Barred and resuming the feud as Z-Gangsta in 1996 for World Championship Wrestling (WCW).[1] He is blind in his right eye.[3]

Tom Lister Jr.
Lister in 2010
Thomas Lister Jr.

(1958-06-24) June 24, 1958
Other namesTommy "Tiny" Lister
Professional wrestler
Years active1984–present (actor)
1989–1996 (wrestler)
Ring name(s)Zeus[1]
Billed height6 ft 5 in (196 cm)[2]
Billed weight300 lb (136 kg)[1][2]
Billed fromParts Unknown[2]
DebutApril 25, 1989[1]

Early life

Lister was born in Compton, California, on June 24, 1958. Lister was born blind in his right eye due to a detached and deformed retina.[3] He avoided the local gang life in Compton by developing an interest in films and religion instead.

Lister attended Palomar Junior College before transferring to Long Beach City College for his sophomore year. While at Long Beach, he recorded a 52 ft (16 m) shot put throw, which helped to earn him a scholarship to California State University at Los Angeles. In his senior year, he won the national shot put title with a mark of over 61 ft 8 in (18.8 m). Lister was the 1982 NCAA Division II National Shot Put Champion.[3]

After college, Lister competed for the Converse Track Club, eventually raising his shot put mark to 64 ft 3 in (19.58 m), before trying out with the New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League.[3] He was cut after two exhibition games, and opted to pursue acting instead.[4]

Acting career

Lister is best known as Deebo from Friday. Deebo was the neighborhood bully and antagonist to Ice Cube's character, Craig Jones. He reprised the role in the film's sequel, Next Friday, but did not appear in the third film of the series, Friday After Next. He also played the role of Obodo in Mario Van Peeble's "Posse" (1993). Lister has had numerous guest appearances on TV series, including playing Klaang, the first Klingon ever to make contact with humans, in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. He co-starred in a two-part episode of the courtroom series Matlock as Mr. Matlock's in-prison bodyguard.

Lister's film roles include playing a prisoner in The Dark Knight, Austin Powers in Goldmember and The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). Lister was featured in The Fifth Element as the Galactic President. He appeared in the Adam Sandler film Little Nicky as Nicky's older brother Cassius.

Lister was the main police officer in Chamillionaire's "Ridin'" video, and reprised his role as a police officer in Chamillionaire's 2012 single Show Love. He has also appeared in the Ice Cube videos for "Friday" (from the Friday soundtrack) and "You Can Do It" (from the Next Friday soundtrack). Lister appeared via both original footage and film clips from the movie. He was also in the videos for Young Bleed's "How You Do Dat"; French Montana's "I Told 'Em" and 50 Cent's "Many Men". Lister also portrayed Sancho in the Sublime music video "Santeria".

In the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown, he played bail agent Winston, who "finds people who don't want to be found". In 2015, Lister filmed Busy Day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The film was produced by Tamás Nádas.[5] Lister had a supporting role in the 2016 Disney animated movie Zootopia as the voice of the diminutive fennec fox, Finnick. He also appeared in a commercial that year for Ball Park-brand beef jerky, advertised as "tough, but tender."[6]

Professional wrestling career

World Wrestling Federation (1989-1990)

Lister appeared in the 1989 wrestling movie No Holds Barred, which was financed by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and starred Hulk Hogan. Lister's role was Zeus, a brutal monster heel.

No Holds Barred inspired a feud in the WWF during the latter half of 1989. Lister was billed as "Zeus: The Human Wrecking Machine",[2] and used the same "monster heel" gimmick in his matches by no selling his opponent's more lethal moves. Zeus would shout "aw aw" and pound on his chest during interviews and matches, and sometimes mispronounce wrestler's names, such as referring to Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake as "Beefcake Barber".

Eventually, Zeus demanded Hogan face him in the ring. Citing jealousy for being billed under Hogan and anger over losing to Hogan in the movie, Zeus now wanted to beat him in "real life". Zeus formed an alliance with fellow Hogan rival "Macho Man" Randy Savage to feud with Hogan and his friend, Brutus Beefcake. The two teams faced off at the 1989 SummerSlam event in a tag team match which saw Hogan and Beefcake prevail as the victors, with Hogan pinning Zeus.

Following SummerSlam, Zeus formed an alliance with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase leading into the Survivor Series. At the event, the team of The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Demolition) faced The Million Dollar Team (Ted DiBiase, Zeus, and the Powers of Pain). Zeus was eliminated from the match via disqualification after refusing to break a chokehold on Hogan and shoving the referee away.[2] The Hulkamaniacs went on to win the match.

After the Survivor Series, the feud between Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake versus Randy Savage and Zeus ended with a steel cage match on December 27, 1989 at the No Holds Barred pay-per-view event. Hogan and Beefcake were once again victorious in what would be Zeus's last match in the WWF. Lister's final WWF appearance was a promotional spot for the 1990 Royal Rumble.

World Wrestling Council (1990)

Following the feud with Hogan, Zeus continued to sporadically wrestle, most notably for the World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico, where he faced Abdullah the Butcher.[7]

World Championship Wrestling (1996)

Lister also spent a short time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as Z-Gangsta, as part of The Alliance to End Hulkamania in March 1996, culminating at Uncensored. He debuted the previous week with fellow actor/wrestler Robert Swenson, who was billed as The Ultimate Solution.

Honors and awards

The athletic department of Lister's alma mater Cal State LA sponsors an annual track meet in his name.

Personal life

Religious views

Lister is an evangelical born-again Christian. In 1999, he and Darryl Strawberry appeared on evangelist Benny Hinn's TV program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in which they gave their testimonials. Afterward, Hinn laid hands on Lister and prophesied over him, "God is calling you to reach out to young people and will bless your acting career to do it." Lister has continued to make appearances on faith-based networks and speaks to urban youth and at church functions across the country. He became a member of a Christian church named The Light of the World (LLDM).[8]

On August 31, 2012, Lister agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud, in a scheme that led to $3.8 million in losses.[3] He was charged with fraudulently buying homes in order to withdraw $1.1 million in home equity loans.[9] As of April 2014, he was out on bail and confident of avoiding prison. He stated, "What’s so cool about God and our government is that you can make a mistake and they will forgive you if you are just a good person and doing right.”[3]




Music videos


  1. "Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.'s Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  2. "Zeus' WWE alumni profile". WWE. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  3. Golianopoulos, Thomas (May 29, 2014). "Say Hello to the Bad Guy". Grantland. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  4. Lee, Kirby (March 27, 1994). "Taking a Shot at Films: Cal State L.A. shotput title-holder Tommie Lister Jr. transferred his athletic success to pro wrestling--and now acting". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  5. "Cast | Busy Day Movie - Attila Arpa, Tommy Lister, Quinton Aaron". Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  6. Ball Park Jerky Vending Machine on YouTube
  7. Zeus vs Abdullah The Butcher, WWC 1990 on YouTube
  8. Dave. "Monday Update: Vince Returns, Lots of Promotion for Weekend Events; Trigg's Next Fight; New WWE Hire". Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Online. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  9. Pfeifer, Stuart (August 31, 2012). "Actor Tommy 'Tiny' Lister to plead guilty in mortgage fraud scheme". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  10. "Stern Works Some Magic for Ratings". Los Angeles Times. July 4, 1998. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
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