In the opening minutes of Inferno 1, Syrus Yarbrough talks about how he is now enough to be the Dad of certain cast members, and yet he’s still ready to prove to all the 18–19 years old that he can whoop their asses in the challenges.
Fast-forward 18 years and Syrus is not only still ready to compete — he’s actually in the best shape of his life. After a rough loss to Alton on All Stars 1, Syrus is looking for some redemption and maybe one last great Reality TV moment before he hangs it up.
Syrus’s Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version)
Introducing Syrus: One of the true MTV OGs, Syrus Yarbrough made his Reality TV debut in 1997 on the Real World Boston. Syrus was known for keeping it real, always being able to make friends in different locations, and was quite the player/ladies’ man. A fun fact is Syrus was part of the first-ever RW/RR crossover competition as the Real World Boston cast linked up with the Road Rules Islands cast in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A year before the first season of the Challenge would air! Syrus made his actual Challenge debut years later with the Extreme Challenge, a season that pre-dated eliminations. On the Extreme Challenge, Syrus won a couple of daily challenge MVPs and was part of the winning team in the Final, making him a Challenge Champion.
Interesting to note is that Syrus debuted on Real World at 25, which is young, yet, was on the older side for RW/RR casting at the time, so when the Challenge was in full-swing years later, like Mark Long, Syrus got looked at as the old guy in the house (when he was still in his early 30s). On Battle of the Sexes 1, Syrus had a decent run, eventually getting voted out due to performance, although he outlasted 10 people before going down. When Syrus came back for the Inferno 1, you could feel he had a chip on his shoulder as the old guy in the house, especially after he got voted into the first elimination of the season. It set a fire under Syrus as he won the lifesaver to keep himself out of elimination and went on to be a key member of his team en route to the Final. Unfortunately for Syrus and the Real World team, a spider bite sent Coral to the emergency room during the Final and ultimately cost their team a win.
Syrus would come back for two more seasons, again getting tossed into elimination due to his teammates worrying about his age and how he would hold up in particular challenges due to his size. To be fair, there were certain challenges where Syrus didn’t have the best flexibility or mobility. On the Gauntlet 2, he was on the wrong side of one of the biggest upsets in elimination history when Derrick took him down in Beach Brawl.
Syrus returned for the Ruins. He picked up his first and only career elimination win against Adam King, though he could not make the Final after losing an elimination to Cohutta. His elimination with Cohutta was pretty damn entertaining as the two played a variation of hog-tie where they had to untie themselves at the end. Syrus was more explosive, but Cohutta was more adept and calm under pressure when unhooking himself.
We wouldn’t see Syrus on the Challenge again till All Stars. However, I need to note that while Syrus did not compete on the show for a decade, he was still an active part of the community with the younger generation when setting them up for Spring Break & Club Events. Syrus knows his way around LA, and the man knows how to party. He looked after an entire generation of competitors off-camera. His All Stars 1 run was underwhelming due to injuries he had going in. Syrus took the loss to heart as he recovered from the injury and got himself in his best shape in over a decade.
Player Vitals & Stats
Syrus Yarborugh: 6'1, 50 Years Old, 185 lbs, 5 Seasons, 1–2 Elimination Record, 1x Champion, 2x Finalist, 1 All Star Season, 0–1 All Star Elimination Record
Skills and Physical Strength:
In the early 90s, Syrus played college basketball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Syrus always had good explosiveness when it came to quick sprints or challenges that required bursts of athleticism. What Syrus lacks is finesse, flexibility, and muscular dexterity. Back on the Gauntlet 2, Syrus was already looking old and not so agile in some challenges. While he’s gotten himself into much better shape in 2022, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s even older, and his body has taken on injuries and ailments. I am proud of Syrus for getting in shape and looking good. It will be essential for him going forward to minimize some of the difficulties of aging as an athlete.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Syrus. He will need to dig deep to keep himself from being at the bottom in some challenges and will need to give everything if he sees a shot of winning a daily. Syrus has a ton of heart; we saw him push through the team portion of the mini-final on All Stars 1 with a bad ankle. The guy won’t give up; the question is, can he keep up?
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Syrus’s social game is good in that everyone wants to party with him, and everyone respects him enough to keep him from being the first person who goes into elimination. Except once it comes down to brass tacks and the game becomes real, Syrus is one of the first names usually thrown into elimination. I may be underrating Syrus’s social & political game as he did have the sway to get Alton as his elimination opponent after his last-place finish in a daily challenge forced him into the arena. His allies entering All Stars are likely to be Nehemiah & Laterrian.
In terms of a strategic game, we never see Syrus in power much; thus, I am not sure what he would do in a scenario where he has the unanimous ability to send someone into elimination. Mentally, Syrus struggled with memorization in the mini-final of All Stars 1, and he doesn’t have much of a history solving puzzles solo either.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Y’all remember when they gave Alton (a known climber) a climbing elimination against Syrus? A Syrus who had a bad ankle that would worsen with every leap/landing he’d take? That was fucked up by production. Syrus does not have an extensive elimination history. He defeated Adam King on the Ruins in one of the more unique eliminations the Challenge has ever done. While size is one of Syrus’s strengths, we saw Derrick be able to get under him during Beach Brawl and take out his legs on the Gauntlet 2, and then Cohutta had a gentler touch during their elimination on the Ruins. Being a big man pays off in certain eliminations, but it doesn’t guarantee you a win. Personally, I would love to see Syrus get a true headbanger like a Pole Wrestle or a Balls In and see how he does against some of these guys.
Can Syrus win? No. The guy is 50 years old and has never seen anything close to a modern Challenge Final. Not to mention, he’s going against a stacked cast where multi-time champs like MJ & Tyler probably don’t even rank in the top half of males. The goal for Syrus should be to win an elimination; if he can do that against anyone on this cast, it would be something he could take legitimate pride in.