Photo: Tom Zillich New York State-based wrestler Short Sleeve Sampson (Dan DiLucchio), who runs Midget Wrestling Warriors, strikes a pose outside Alice McKay arena at Cloverdale Fairgrounds on Monday, March 19. See video online at surreynowleader.com.

VIDEO: All-midget wrestling shows in Cloverdale, Chilliwack this weekend

Company boss Short Sleeve Sampson: ‘It’s midget wrestling, and it’s always been midget wrestling’

Dan DiLucchio is not a tall man, by any stretch, but he sure dreamed big with his latest career move in the world of wrestling.

DiLucchio is known in the ring as Short Sleeve Sampson, a 19-year veteran of the circuit in North America.

These days, he’s busy running his own Midget Wrestling Warriors, a company that boasts a battalion of, yes, midget wrestlers, including himself.

“We have a core group of wrestlers,” he explained, “and then there are a few who float in and out, because I like to rotate and change things up a little. So we have about 15 wrestlers with the company, including referees and ring announcers and jobs like that. I have about 25 people working for me.”

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DiLucchio, who lives in Syracuse, New York, flew to Vancouver on Sunday to help promote his wrestling shows in B.C., first on Friday night (March 23) at Chilliwack’s Tzeachten Hall and then Saturday (March 24) at Cloverdale Fairgrounds, in partnership with All Star Wrestling.

On Monday morning, DiLucchio met with the Now-Leader to talk about the tour dates, his history in the business and some of the sensitivities about the name “midget” wrestling.

He and other wrestlers are not “little people” in the ring, the four-foot-two DiLucchio insisted.

“No, no, no, we’re doing midget wrestling here,” he underlined. “Here’s the thing: In today’s society everybody tries to be politically correct, you know what I mean. Everybody’s worried about offending anybody, but if you were to say little person wrestling, a lot of people might think that’s going to be kids there, you know? Or we could say it’s a vertically-challenged wrestling, but it misses the mark, know what I’m saying? It’s a brand, it’s a product – it’s midget wrestling, and it’s always been midget wrestling. That’s what people know it as and identify it as. I know back in the late 2000s, in around 2008, WWE tried to start a midget-wrestling division, which I was a part of, and they called it the juniors, and it really never took off because they just missed that mark.

DiLucchio’s company has been in business for close to four years, and it all came together at a key moment in his career.

“When I hit that 14-year mark (in pro wrestling), I had been very successful and had many opportunities in this business, and that was great, so I wanted to leave on that high,” he recalled.

“So I planned on doing a 40-show retirement tour, and towards the end of it, I had some opportunities presented to me to start my own company, and I went from walking out of the business to being in it even bigger now. And it’s taken off. We are now all over North America, with shows in places like Oregon and Houston Texas, and now here, of course.

• READ MORE: Cloverdale’s Bambi Hall weighs in on women in the world of wrestling, from March 19.

• ALSO: PHOTOS: Family-friendly All Star Wrestling turns 10, from June 2017.

DiLucchio is no stranger to Cloverdale’s Alice McKay arena, having wrestled there several times over the past four years, most recently in October.

“This time around, this is my show, an all-midget wrestling show. Completely different,” he noted.

This week, nine of the Midget Wrestling Warriors will be part of the “Final Destination” action in the two local rings. For event details, visit allstar-wrestling.com or call 604-710-0872.

The name of DiLucchio’s wrestling company isn’t meant to offend anyone, he says – it’s just reality.

“I’m not an averaged-sized person,” DiLucchio confirmed, “and we do get some feedback and negativity from people saying we’re being exploited, but that’s not the case, because we’re allowing people to live out their dreams, and making a living doing this.

“Myself, I would never get drafted in the NFL or NBA or anything, because I don’t meet the height requirements, let’s face it, but in wrestling there is no height requirement, so I get to be an athlete, I get to be an entertainer, I get to travel the world, I get to pay my bills and live my dreams. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

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