Hail, Nielsen! We who are about to die salute thee. No lions prowl the set of the syndicated hit American Gladiators, but contestants must be lionhearted. Branham was the only man to survive all the jarring jousts and contests last season and emerge in May as champion. But such rugged play is nothing new for Branham, who grew up on a 2,500-acre ranch in Tombstone, Ariz., and has been hauling down steers since he was 6. So he wasn’t daunted by the beefy Goliaths on Gladiators. “I just think I’m about one of the best athletes around,” he says. The sometime model and actor still competes in rodeos two weekends a month—three “if Laura will let me,” she being a model and his bride of five months. Says Laura: “The first time he held my hand, he asked me if it would be all right.” Not only a gladiator but a gentleman.