By Vern May
There is no obstacle that dissuades Dan DiLucchio. In fact, the biggest the challenge, the better he likes it. He’s already conquered most of the circumstances in life that many suspected would limit his career opportunities. On July 14th, he’s aiming to conquer a few more in Brandon.
DiLucchio, known professionally as Short Sleeve Sampson, has made his living as a professional wrestler since 1999 and has ascended to become the franchise player of a touring circuit that has been gaining momentum across western Canada. During his seventeen year career, he has appeared for World Wrestling Entertainment, Impact Wrestling and has worked with some of the industry’s most recognized stars like Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker.
Not bad for a kid that wasn’t expected to have a career in professional sports. It’s a pretty sensational accomplishment when you recognize that DiLucchio stands only 4’2” and is considered to be a “midget” during an era of political correctness – which made the “m” word taboo in many circles. It’s a challenge he doesn’t expect to be a problem in Brandon.
“First off, we need to get past what’s politically correct and get people comfortable with the word midget again,” says DiLucchio from a tour stop in Las Vegas, recently. “We’re midgets, we’re wrestlers, neither of those things is a demeaning term. It’s what sets us apart from the crowd and we’re proud of it. Brandon isn’t hung up on political correctness is it?”
While not a household name, Short Sleeve Sampson is one of the busiest wrestlers of his generation, regularly criss-crossing the continent for matches, personal appearances and television projects. He is featured in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Texas, is an honoree in the New England Professional Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Cauliflower Alley Club’s Circle of Friendship, celebrating his achievements in the sport at a ceremony in Las Vegas. He comes to Brandon as a headliner for the Midget Wrestling Warriors tour, an event featuring a roster comprised entirely of short-statured athletes.
The all-midget wrestling circuit is based in Syracuse, New York, but has seen its greatest success on tours in the western Provinces, including Calgary, where they play to sold out audiences on a bi-monthly basis. Many other tour stops have followed suit with turn away crowds in Kelowna, Penticton, Edmonton and Saskatoon. In fact, when the tour tested the waters in Manitoba last spring with a date in Minnedosa, they sold out the arena to beyond fire code capacity. They would like to eclipse that success in Brandon.
“We chose Brandon over Winnipeg for this tour largely because of the reputation of the Keystone Centre as a premiere entertainment venue. Anyone we’ve talked to in the entertainment business or in sport that has performed here rave about the facility and the environment that it creates for a great show. I’d like to see the biggest crowd for professional wrestling that Brandon has ever seen.”
The July 14 event will feature male and female athletes from Canada, the U.S. and will include the debut of a pair of Mexican luchadores which add a particular high flying element to the proceedings. It’s a hand-picked combination of talent that DiLucchio feels will delight wrestling fans of all ages. The Brandon event is the last stop of a tour which starts at the Calgary Stampede and includes events in Edmonton and Saskatoon as well.
Tickets are on sale through the Keystone Centre box office and online and have seen encouraging interest in the first week. The event will be held in the Manitoba Room and bell time is at 7:00 pm