Few clues suggest a pro wrestler lives in Mick Foley's Long Island home. A cartoon drawing of his leather mask-wearing alter-ego, "Mankind," is pinned to the refrigerator. In the game room, a steel chair -- the kind he used to swing at opponents' heads -- stands near a bed for Randall, the family's Papillon.
Mr. Foley has dedicated more of his 4,100-square-foot contemporary to another of his colorful personas: Santa Claus.
On a balmy afternoon in September, the lower level of the home was decorated with a Christmas tree surrounded by gift wrapped presents. There are always presents, some of which accumulate from family members' birthdays. A custom-made recliner, emblazoned with the word "believe," was designed to look like a winter sled with sleigh bells.
A wall of family portraits showed Mr. Foley in full Santa garb with his wife, Colette, and some of their four children. A scented candle called "Santa's Pipe," since discontinued, filled the room with clove and cherry.
"Wearing the red suit is a lot like being in the ring," says Mr. Foley, of the identity he dons for charity events. This day, the 50-year-old three-time world heavyweight champion was sporting a green button-down shirt covered in smiling Santas on his broad 6-foot-2-inch frame.
Mr. Foley says his fascination with the jolly old elf started during a family trip to the Santa's Village theme park in Jefferson, N.H., when he was a child. "I held on to the magic and innocence of that time period," he says. "The Christmas room is kind of my way of replicating that experience." He and his family have visited the park for 20 consecutive years.
From another room, Mr. Foley retrieved several Christmas-themed outfits, including a candy-cane striped shirt and matching red vest. In 2014, he says he wore a Christmas-themed outfit every day of the year.
It seems a departure from Mr. Foley's roughly 30-year career as a pro wrestler, in which he earned the nickname "the hard-core legend" for his often brutal matches, involving thumb tacks, barbed wire and death-defying stunts. In one outing, at a 1998 match called "Hell in a Cell," he was dropped from the top of a 16-foot-tall steel cage, twice. He finished the match.
"Seventeen years later and I'm still feeling it," Mr. Foley says, pointing out the two teeth he lost during the bout. During his career, he has broken bones, suffered several concussions and lost part of his right ear; he walks with a limp.
Mr. Foley and his wife bought this 1.2-acre riverfront home in Smithtown, a village in Suffolk County, near the end of his in-ring career, for $1.1 million in 2011, according to public records. Mr. Foley has stayed busy. He wrote a number of memoirs that reached the top of the New York Times best-seller list, as well as children's books and novels. He has appeared in television shows and commercials. In 2014, he co-produced and starred in "I Am Santa Claus," a documentary that follows the struggles of professional Santas, or "Santa ambassadors," as they prefer to be called. He is currently performing in a one-man comedy show about his life in and out of the ring.
"So many of the guys ended up with bad habits or just blew their money," says fellow retired wrestler and friend, Steven Anderson, better known as main-eventer Stone Cold Steve Austin. "But Mick was so damn cheap," he joked, adding that Mr. Foley stayed thrifty even after becoming a TV mainstay. (Mr. Foley declined to say what he earned, but top performers can make more than $1 million a year.)
In 2012, Mr. Foley and his wife spent $150,000 to renovate the home's kitchen and dining area, nearly quadrupling its size to create an open-concept area. The space opens to a wall of glass overlooking the Nissequogue River and their private dock.
Ms. Foley, 55, a former model, has a design policy: "He can't tell me about my kitchen, and I can't tell him about his Santa room." Her preferences include a collection of rare Barbie dolls, still in their packaging, which line the TV console in the double-height living room.
Mr. Foley, who grew up on Long Island, says with his one-man show and other commitments, he still spends about a third of the year traveling.
Even so, he always makes time for the holidays. For one month of the year, Mr. Foley dyes his beard white in preparation for a number of charity events, where he'll suit up to greet children. Aside from the occasional teenagers, who give a knowing wink, his identity is safe.
"It's holiday magic," he says. "They don't know I'm a wrestler. I'm just Santa."