J-Mazing prepares for the main event cage match at the Micro Wrestling Federation show at Rick’s Cafe Americain in Starkville Wednesday. Photo by: Adrian Bohannon
October 18, 2009 12:07:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Danny Campbell walks confidently through the narrow back hallways at Rick''s Cafe Americain with a drink in his hand, a smile on his face and a tight black T-shirt that reads "I support midget violence."
At the edge of the kitchen, Campbell, 44, is stopped by a handful of young women who ask to pose with him for photos. He is more than happy to oblige.
"When you got a body like this, the women love you," Campbell says later, then takes off his shirt and flexes his muscular, 4-feet, 9-inch, 170-pound frame. The young women see the display and giggle in the background while Campbell, whose growth was stunted by dwarfism, maintains his smile from ear to ear.
For Campbell, traveling 300 days a year with the Micro Wrestling Federation is happiness. The MWF tours nationwide, including a performance Wednesday in Starkville.
"It''s been a childhood dream that I fulfilled," says Campbell, an Alberta, Canada, native. "I had a dream that I wanted to become a professional wrestler and I hunted it down and I chased it and I fulfilled it. How many people do you know who can honestly say they''ve fulfilled a dream that they''ve had?"
Campbell walks around Rick''s Cafe like he owns the place, posing now and again for photos and cracking jokes with anyone who will listen. The 18-year pro wrestling veteran also wanders in and out of the MWF dressing room, where a seven of his fellow micro wrestlers hang out before the show.
There''s Jason Jones, aka "Short Dawg," who stands at 4 feet, 5 inches and 170 pounds. He''s a 29-year-old Kentucky native who has wrestled professionally for 12 years.
Then there''s J-Mazing, originally from the Philippines, who, at 3 feet, 5 inches and 70 pounds, is the smallest wrestler on the tour. He''s been doing it for about a year and a half.
The others go by names like Lil Ricky, Da Bronx Thug and Steve-O. The group relaxes and drinks beer before the show while young women pop in and out of the dressing room to take photos.
As 10 p.m. approaches, the wrestlers prepare for the performance while the crowd inside Rick''s increases steadily. The first to arrive fill up tables on the stage and upper levels around the 12-by-12-foot wrestling ring, located in the center of the dance floor. Others stand in groups and chatter excitedly.
When the 10 o''clock hour arrives, Lil Ricky struts through the crowd and climbs into the ring, followed by J-Mazing, who shimmies and dances into the spotlight.
From the J-Mazing''s first slap to Lil Ricky''s face, loud enough to be heard by most in attendance, to Lil Ricky''s eventual pin of J-Mazing, the entire 250 people in attendance go wild. Short Dawg and Da Bronx Thug are the next pair to take the ring, followed by Little Nasty Boy and Steve-O. Each contribute their own acrobatics and antics to the show.
The wrestlers use everything from trash cans and clipboards to their tiny fists and feet to pummel each other. Then, after the individual matches come to an end, MWF crew members set up fencing around the ring for the steel cage match -- the final wrestling event of the night, during which Campbell, aka Little Nasty Boy, comes out victorious after a jump from the top of the cage and pin of Steve-O. J-Mazing later dances for the ladies in attendance and the show comes to an end.
Men and women flock to the wrestlers after the match for autographs and photos. Jones, aka Short Dawg, is particularly popular.
"Short Dawg: Half the size, twice the pimp," he says with a laugh.
A long road
The MWF was formed in 2000, but has grown increasingly popular in recent years. The group has been featured on Country Music Television and other programs nationwide.
Prior to performing in Starkville, the wrestlers put on a show in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. They were scheduled for another show in El Paso, Texas, two days after the Starkville show. The tours go on for weeks at a time, drawing crowds in the hundreds and the thousands.
"With the recession going on and the gas prices and all that ... people still want to come and see us," Jones says. "I mean, where else are you going to see it? Where else are you going to see a bunch of midgets beat the crap out of each other?"
"We can do practically anything the big guys can do," he adds.
Jones calls his pay "spectacular," though he won''t disclose how much the wrestlers make.
"Back then (12 years ago), it was OK money-wise, but it wasn''t nothing compared to now," Jones says.
The group has performed at conventions in Las Vegas, at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and elsewhere around the country. Campbell has performed in eight countries and 43 states over his 26-year career.
"People love it," Campbell says.
But things haven''t always been so easy for the wrestlers. Growing up, people often stared and made comments, Jones says.
Jones has a brother, who he described as "normal size," at 5 feet, 6 inches or so, and the pair used to wrestle together as kids. His brother also happened to be very protective.
Jones recalls one incident in particular when he was at a store and somebody began to make fun. His brother became fired up about the incident, but Jones says he was unfazed.
"The way I look at it, I''m not a mentally challenged person," Jones says. "I''m short and I know how to take something and not let it offend me. They''re the stupid ones for doing it."
J-Mazing, who admits his real name is Jordan, but won''t identify himself beyond that, also has been subject to mockery. Like the others on the tour, he tries not to let the teasing bother him.
"A lot of people don''t understand that we can do the same things an average person can do," he says. "We just have to do it in a different way. A lot of people don''t understand that we do have a heart; we do get hurt sometimes on the inside -- our feelings; and making fun of us, sometimes it''s not cool. I can take a joke, you know, just don''t go overboard."
One organization, Little People of America, is opposed to the use of the word "midget," saying it is a slur to people of short stature. But wrestlers on the Micro Wrestling Federation tour, including Jones, use it often.
"Let me tell you something," Jones says of the term, "it''s going to get used. It''s going to get used in entertainment and it''s going to get used in newspapers. It''s not really slang. It''s not really a slur. It''s a short term that dodges describing all different kinds of dwarfism, because there''s probably 10 to 15 different types of dwarfism out there."
"Yeah (Little People of America) get mad at the "I support midget violence" (slogan), but what''s wild is when you go out there and say, ''Hey, one time I want to hear everybody say ''I support midget violence,'' and then you hear the whole crowd do that. It''s like a cold chill going up your spine. It''s energetic, is what it is."
Attempts to get comment from Little People of America were unsuccessful.
Campbell also doesn''t see anything wrong with the Micro Wrestling Federation and the "I support midget violence" T-shirts.
"If I''m demoralizing myself or I''m degrading myself, where''s the gun to my head saying I have to do this?" Campbell says. "Do you see a gun to the back of my head or the side of my head saying ''Do this or else?'' Everybody''s got a price, buddy. If you fulfill a price, I''m there."
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