WRESTLING WITH CONVENTION
The announcement that the Midget Wrestling Warriors (MWW) would be in action at the Tri-County Fair this year has been met with a degree of local criticism, waged almost entirely by Allen Berrey (see letters p. 4), based on usage of the term “Midget” in reference to wrestlers of shorter stature.
The term, Berrey argues, is outdated and offensive.
In response, MWW owner/operator/wrestler Dan DiLucchio put out a statement about the company, including the following:
“MWW is a New York-based company that hires athletes that are 5’2” and under from the United States, Mexico, and Canada
These athletes who are shorter than average wrestlers are dwarfs, midgets, and shorter men and women in height. When we use the word “Midget” we are describing a product and a show. The word midget is not meant to cripple or demean anyone, but rather to empower and show what these men and women are capable ofdoing under the platform of professional wrestling.
What else can we call our show? Should we say we are vertically challenged wrestlers, no, there isn’t anyone who works for us that is challenged in any way. Should we say “Little People Wrestling,” no because then everyone would think they are coming to see children wrestle.
The Midget Wrestling Warriors are here to encourage those who happen to be short and to let them know that the only person that can stop them from living out their dreams is themselves.”
DiLucchio, who performs as Short Sleeve Sampson in the ring with MWW, has been in the professional wrestling business for 22 years.
“I basically grew up loving the sport and watching it,” DiLucchio said, “One night my phone rang and it was an independent wrestler in Rhode Island who asked if I ever thought about wrestling.”
DiLucchio, who describes himself as an adrenaline junkie, said “Sure.”
“Great, we got a show in two weeks,” he was told.
He was booked for a tag-team match, and “basically I survived,” he said of his first foray into wrestling.
“The things I needed to do right, I did right. The things I needed to do wrong, I did wrong,” he said.
He got a call from the same promoter a month later and worked his second show on a Saturday night. The very next night, he got a call “from what was at the time the World Wrestling Federation asking me if I was interested in doing a segment the following night on Monday Night Raw out in New Jersey.”
DiLucchio and the wrestler who’d introduced him to the profession, Tiny the Terrible, participated in a segment that featured wrestlers Triple-H, The Big Show, and Vince and Stephanie McMahon.
After the show, “I went home,” DiLucchio said, “looked at my wife, and said, ‘Well if I’m going to do this business, I may wanna go get trained.”
For awhile, DiLucchio worked his daytime job, providing direct support to people with developmental disabilities, while using vacation days and weekends to pursue his wrestling career, “until it pretty much became clear that I had to make a decision,” DiLucchio said, to devote his time to being a professional wrestler or quit the industry.
“The rest,” he said, “is history.”
While working mainly on the independent circuit, DiLucchio has made additional appearances to WWF/WWE and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling shows throughout the years.
In 2013, “I had done pretty much everything I’d wanted to do in the business,” he said, and announced that he would be retiring and did a 40-show tour to thank all of his supporters throughout the year.
Towards the end of that tour, “I received a phone call asking me if I ever thought about promoting my own show,” he said. It was something he said he’d considered but hadn’t been able to do without financial backing. This time around, he was ready and retirement would have to wait.
He started MWW in 2014 with a six-wrestler stable.
MWW athletes are 5 foot, 2 inches, and under, he explained, “because here in the US it’s said if you’re 4 foot 11 inches, then you’re a little person, and in Mexico it says if you’re 5 feet 4 inches or under, you’re a little person.”
“In the beginning, obviously, nobody knows what they’re doing,” DiLucchio said. “So I contacted people I’d known that were worth calling … I told them what I was doing, and most of them jumped on board.”
These days, the promotion has more than twenty wrestlers on the roster. “The warriors are stronger than they’ve ever been before. I’ve got a great group of men and women who are part of the promotion,” DiLucchio said.
When asked about the controversy surrounding the name, DiLucchio said, “Here’s the deal: I’m not trying to offend anybody out there at all … I am basically promoting a show, a brand, a product, and the product I’m promoting is midget wrestling.”
He continued: “Granted, times have changed, people have different outlooks on things … But why should we change a product just to appease certain people? I’m not saying that anybody’s wrong or anybody’s right…At the same time, don’t say that what I’m doing is wrong. If you don’t want to support the product, the show, then don’t come.”
“If you’re interested in any part of the product, come out and support it,” he said, “You’ll be thoroughly entertained from beginning bell to end bell.”
The controversy, he said, has come, as the promotion’s popularity has increased. DiLucchio, for his part, said that he welcomes it.
“At the end of the day, we’re creating a brand,” he explained, adding that he’s received messages and emails “telling me what an injustice I was doing to things, and how I was setting people back in time.”
“No, I’m not, he said, “I’m creating a brand. I’m not telling them how to live their life or to make certain decisions …Don’t tell me how to lead my life and make certain decisions.”
“Everybody is called by what their name is,” DiLucchio said, “Call it the Warriors, that’s really what it is: a group of men and women who wrestle in front of an audience … the word midget identifies a product, the Warriors are the wrestlers.”
“We have a phenomenal group of men and women who are talented athletes, who have a gift, a passion a desire, to showcase in the middle of the ring, in front of a crowd, each and every night,” DiLucchio said.
Midget Warrior Wrestling will be featured on the Thursday night of the Tri-County Fair. Time: 7 p.m. For ticket information, visit tricountyfair.com.