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This lead to the curtailing of the product, and the eventual loss of television production. The hours of work that I was doing finally caught up with me. Trying to be the booker, agent, television producer, and other responsibilities within the organization affected my wrestling skills; and I began to suffer injury after injury. As a result, I walked away from the business in early 1988; and went back to work as a substance abuse counselor and director of treatment services. Although I was frustrated with the business, I could not stay away from professional wrestling. In late 1988, I briefly opened an organization called ProStar Championship Wrestling. Once again, being the sole financial source; I closed up shop in 1989 and worked as an independent wrestler until my retirement. Now, after my retirement from wrestling; I am the Director of Supportive Services for Steppingstone, Inc in Fall River, Massachusetts, an agency providing treatment for substance abuse, mental illness, and homelessness. I am also the director of the Intensive Men’s Outpatient Treatment Program for TriHab, Inc. in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. 

PETER : So, going back a little; when did you first view wrestling? 

D.C. : My first exposure to professional wrestling probably occurred at the age of four or five years old. I remember being at my grandparents house watching on a black and white television on a Friday night. I believe these matches were from Chicago and on the Dumont Network. I remember this so vividly because my grandmother was a rabid fan who would yell and scream at the set. Although I don’t remember who I was actually watching, there was a match on that was bloody and violent. It scared me and yet fascinated me at the same time. I later watched wrestling with my father. Every Saturday afternoon was a ritual in our home, as the WWWF was on at 1.00pm, 3.00pm, and 5.00pm out of the Capital Arena in Washington, DC; and Florida Championship Wrestling was on Sunday afternoons. Gordon Solie’s and Ray Morgan’s commentary would keep me glued to the set. The one wrestler who scared the daylights out of me was King Curtis. His wild eyes, maniac screams, and drooling saliva; became the model for my character in the ring. My role model, however, was Bruno Sammartino. In Bruno, there was a sense of legitimacy that did not exist with others. I also saw my father in Bruno. As I stated earlier, my Dad was disabled and unable to spend time with his kids as he was confined to a bed for a long period of time. Yet, he always tried to make things work for the family; and tried to conquer and achieve despite the odds being against him. 

PETER : Did you know you wanted to be a wrestler then, or did it just happen by surprise? 

D.C. : Although my dream was to play professional baseball, I became more and more fascinated with pro wrestling as I grew bigger in the weight room. In 1974, I weighted 143 pounds as a high school student. This was due to the ulcer disease, so being quite small; I did not think that pro wrestling would be a career for me. This did not stop me from setting up backyard wrestling events, however. In the early 1970’s, as the Vietnam War raged and social ills permeated this country; I would stage backyard wrestling events with such characters as Vietnamese villains and hero soldier characters. The events would be replete with red food coloring as blood and Polaroid cameras to record the action. This was my first ‘performance’ as a wrestler. I later moved these events from the backyards of friends, to the mat room at the local YMCA in Easton, PA. These events would occur once a week and we developed a following. It came to an end, however; when one of the ‘combatants’ suffered a bloody hand injury when he fell into a radiator. The liability concerns of the YMCA became the over ruling factor. In 1979, I enrolled in Tito Torres’s training school in Jersey City, New Jersey; and this was the beginning of the ‘real career’ in professional wrestling. 

PETER : So did this lead to your first break in the business? 

D.C. : After being trained by Tito Torres, who was a wonderful trainer; I was lucky enough to get to work on a show with International Wrestling which was headed up by Mario and Angelo Savoldi. Although I did jobs, I needed to start somewhere and this was good enough for me. I was able to learn a lot by keeping my mouth shut and my eyes open. I also had an enormous amount of respect for the guys who made professional wrestling their career. My personality, however; was not one to sit back and watch the world go by. I took what I had learned, and went to Twin County Cable in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and proposed that we work together in opening a professional wrestling organization for the Lehigh Valley. This was to be the Continental Wrestling Alliance which later became the National Wrestling Federation. Through Twin County, I also hosted an hourly entertainment show with my manager at the time; Damien Kane. This show kept the interest of wrestling in the Valley and allowed fans to see the ‘other side’ of the business. When I say the ‘other side’, I did not give the business away as Vince McMahon does today. We showed wrestlers in real life situations, but they stayed in character. 

PETER : If only things hadn’t changed…. So, what were your first matches like? 

D.C. : After watching wrestling for years, and even running backyard wrestling events; I thought I knew more than I really did. In my first match, I tried to do every move I knew. It made no sense and I ended up looking really foolish. I decided that I’d better just sit back and listen and learn. This was just what I did, and it was successful for me. Once again, I think this is a lesson in life. Whatever field you enter, it is important that you respect who has come before you. If you have a better idea or want to make changes, you need to earn your ‘stripes’ first. In most cases, things are not always what they seem and you need to know what obstacles you face before you try to make changes. 

PETER : For those who don’t remember Tito Torres, your trainer; what was it like to learn under his wing? 

D.C. : Tito Torres, was an undercard wrestler for the WWWF and the organizer and promoter of a small New Jersey promotion (American Wrestling Federation) in the 1960’s through today. Tito was a great trainer and very patient. I walked into the ring for my first training session, weighing 260 pounds with a 54 inch chest, 21 inch arms; and bench pressing 535 pounds. Tito stood in front of me, weighing maybe 190 pounds; and started the session. In my mind, I was going to impress him with my agility and strength. It was Tito, however, who taught me a lesson; tying me in knots throughout the training. I then settled down and listened to what he had to teach. He was a great guy. 

PETER : How would you describe yourself as a wrestler? 

D.C. : My goal was to provide the fan with a cross between Kevin Sullivan, both of who had characters that fascinated me. As I look back, my personality of always wanting more and wanting to do better actually doomed me in many respects. By trying to be everything (a wrestler, a booker, and television producer), I was never able to grow my wrestling skills like I wanted to. At times when I was in the ring, I would be thinking about who was up next, the television shots, meeting with the State Athletic Commission; etc. Because of this, I would often take my mind off of the match and I would end up getting hurt. Yet, if I could do it over; I wonder if I could really do it differently because of who I am. 

PETER : Did you have the opportunity to work for bigger promotions arise at any point, seeing as you had the abilities in many of the differing fields of this business? 

D.C. : I had many great offers from people, including promotions in Japan, Puerto Rico, and Canada, as well as organizations within the United States like the NWA; but I chose to be involved in all aspects of the business and stayed with the NWF. But the one thing that was important to me and is just as important today, I have a great respect for the fan and for families. As a wrestler, I would stay and sign autographs until the last person left. This was important to me. To see the face of a child or an adult when they would get a picture was priceless to me. I would initially feel very uncomfortable about autographs, because I never really grasped why a person’s signature was important. But what I learned about the wrestling fan is that after they work hard all day to raise their families, keep a roof over their children’s head, try to keep their loved ones safe and out of trouble; it was important that they be recognized by someone for their work. This is the same for all of us. I also started an anti-drug program as a wrestler, which I took into schools from Maine to Florida. This was important to me. In the years I spent in the wrestling business, I tried to impress upon all I would meet that the heroes of America are not athletes, but the dishwasher, the mechanic, the trash man; and all individuals who work together to raise healthy and respectful children. I believed that then and I believe that today. 

PETER : What would you consider some of your favorite matches and shows, and career highlights? 

D.C. : There are several. I most remember the feud I had with Jules Strongbow during the 1987 heyday of the National Wrestling Federation. We had a series of ‘Indian Strap’ matches, ‘Dog Collar’ matches, and also cage matches; which finally culminated in a Steel Cage Death Match between myself and my manager Damian Kane and Jules and the late Bruiser Brody. The night I won the Tri State Wrestling title also stands out in my mind. Joel Goodhart and Todd Gordon, a couple of great people, entrusted me with their belt; which was an honor. During the match with the Rockin’ Rebel, I broke my ankle and worked several minutes on this break. But winning the title in the Philadelphia Civic Center, was a memory I will not forget. 

PETER : What do you recall about the matches you had, that first got my attention all the way from England – the series you had with Larry Winters? 

D.C. : I enjoyed those matches with Larry Winters. I feel that they set the bar for the ECW. We would work around the arena, and in one match; Larry tossed me off the balcony and onto the cement floor. This ended up being written about in several wrestling magazines, and I think it was Bill Apter who wrote that what he witnessed was ‘frightening’ and could be the pre-cursor of where wrestling was going. Finally, I did a show in Kalispell, Montana; where I worked with Sgt. Slaughter for the NWF title. I had hired a manager named Johnny Angel, who was fabulous. As things turned out, I later found out that Johnny was the national Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; who later renounced his membership. He has since written a book, and a television movie is being made about his life. Johnny and I continue to talk and he is now a motivational speaker and the head of Johnny Lee Clary International Ministries. I recently had Johnny in to speak to clients of our program. 

PETER : Who do you consider your friends in the wrestling business? 

D.C. : I have many, only we tend to lose touch due to my career and their career. I certainly consider Johnny Lee Clary as a great friend, Jules Strongbow, Nickolai Volkoff, Paul Heyman,  Afa the Samoan, just to name a few. 

PETER : What are your thoughts on the progression of the late Tri State Wrestling, through Eastern and then Extreme Championship Wrestling? 

D.C. : Well, I am somewhat of a wrestling purist; but I feel there is room for the violence that was shown on television. What I did not like was the way ECW exposed the business through tongue in cheek comments and interviews. I don’t blame Paul Heyman for this since Vince McMahon set the bar in this area and Paul was trying to play catch up. The problem I saw with ECW was that their ‘renegade’ style allowed wrestlers to work for them who did not belong in the business. I won’t mention their names but they brought a lot of bad press to the wrestling business then and even today. One name I will mention is New Jack. He was involved in numerous incidents with ECW that resulted in people backing away from the promotion. I always liked Paul Heyman and he and I had a lot of similar ideas; but by allowing out of control actions to occur then the family fan base disappeared. New Jack was involved in one incident where he faced a teenage boy working his first match. New Jack intentionally cut the kid so deep that he almost died in the ring from loss of blood. In the end, a court trial ensued; and the teen lost his case. The teen, who was from Providence, Rhode Island; later shrank into depression and committed suicide. I also recently read that New Jack was again arrested in a Florida match after stabbing an opponent seventeen times with a sharpened object. His opponent was hospitalized after this and an off duty cop captured this on video. This has no business in professional wrestling. Is this the legacy that New Jack wants for himself?

PETER : What do you feel was your lowest point in wrestling? 

D.C. : Three come to mind. I was the booker and television producer of an event in Camden, New Jersey. I had a young man from the Pittsburgh area wrestling in several matches that evening. During one of the matches, he became ill and collapsed in the locker room. He was taken to the local hospital where he later died. The autopsy showed that he had a small tumor on his pituitary gland that sent a lethal shot of adrenalin into his system. As an up and coming wrestler, he was scheduled to make minimal money for the show. He also toiled away at a job in the Pittsburgh area as he attended college. Upon receiving word of his death, his family did not even have enough money to bring the body home for burial. It was heartbreaking, and I will always remember that sad night. 

Another low point, was the collapse of the National Wrestling Federation. This whole event occurred basically because of ego and who would be named ‘Executive Producer’. This battle started after a major deal was in the works with a syndication outfit that would have placed NWF Wrestling in ninety five percent of the major markets in the United States. 

Finally, I worked a show in New Jersey for a promoter who did not tell me the whole story of the event. When I arrived at the ‘show’, it turned out to be a match put on in the backyard of a wealthy family for their child’s birthday. I was scheduled to work with Sgt. Slaughter. We were forced to change in the garden shed, shower with a hose, and during the match; kids ran into the ring and started to jump on the wrestlers. It was embarrassing and reduced me to feeling like a whore with the promoter being my pimp. 

PETER : What do you do in your spare time? 

D.C. : I continue to use my skills in public relations and creativity. Although my expertise is my clinical skills in counseling, I also produce a monthly television product for the agency that I work for, set up promotional and fund raising events, and design publications and write newsletters. I am the publisher of the Steppingstone Newsletter, and the publisher of ‘The Advocate’; the official publication for the City of Fall River’s Homeless Coalition. I also design curriculum for the treatment of substance abuse problems and for staff training. I am a certified Crisis Intervention Trainer, and a certified Suicide Prevention Trainer. 

PETER : Do you feel wrestling has change for better or worse? 

D.C. : It has changed for the worse. Wrestling has always flourished due to it’s family appeal. The introduction of this disgusting sexual content has destroyed what made wrestling great. McMahon also destroyed the business by exposing it to the outside. As a psychologist, wrestling worked it’s magic on several levels. Because there was always something occurring ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak, just as fans would begin to think it was staged; something would happen to re-introduce the mystery again. Today, it’s much like going to see a magician who has explained how his tricks work before he does them. Although it may be a selling point initially, with the mystery gone; the fans will not come back. I also think McMahon keeps the coming today through the sex factor. What will happen, I fear, is that he will carve out a very sick niche; appealing only to those who want pornography without the violence. Those wanting real porn will go to the websites where they can get it and eventually ignore McMahon’s product. In the end, Vince McMahon will do to wrestling what he did to the XFL. I think this is bearing fruit when you look at the earnings of the WWE, which continue to spiral downwards. 

PETER : You won’t find me disagreeing with any of that. What five words do you feel describe you best? 

D.C. : Hard working, creative, visionary, respectful. 

PETER : What are your thoughts on today’s WWE and TNA? 

D.C. : I really can’t give any. I stopped watching the WWE years ago, although I do try to read up on what they are doing just for pop culture sake. When I see that these women are taking their clothes off for television, I am saddened. In the substance abuse field, I work with many exotic dancers who ended up stripping because of promises of stardom and instead ended up being used and abused. This often leads to drug use, numerous diseases and the inability to find gainful employment. The embarrassment often results in the development of serious depression and suicide attempts. If you look at what Vince has done, the question that needs to be asked is ‘what women who have worked for him have gone on to successfully ‘star’ in something else?’ Just as we are seeing the death of many wrestlers due to drug use, I predict we will see suicide deaths due to mental health issues of many of McMahon’s ‘divas’ in the future as a result of unfulfilled promises of stardom and glory. This will be much like the ballyhooed golden days of the studio actors and actresses in Hollywood. In the end, the dreams just died and many took their lives. I initially had hopes for the TNA, but I see it following the McMahon philosophy. I don’t feel good about it. For the most part, if I watch wrestling today; I will purchase the ‘Classic Wrestling’ on pay per view. 

PETER : You must have had some fun over the years traveling. Would you share a funny road story? 

D.C. : One that stands out in my mind was during a road trip to Florida for the NWF. We had wrestled in Gainesville that night and were on our way to a match in St. Peters for the following night. NWF promoter Mike Dano was driving a van containing myself, Wendi Richter, Jules Strongbow, Bruiser Brody, and Abdullah the Butcher. As we were driving across the infamous alligator alley, the van ran out of gas about a half mile from an exit. It was decided that we all would take turns pushing the van to the exit. At one point, Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher were pushing the van together. I could just imagine the responses from those driving by seeing those two standing on the highway pushing a car! Needless to say, no-one stopped to offer help. 

PETER : So, unless you’re an older viewer like myself; the appearance that many remember of yours; is the night Terry Funk came back for ECW in 1994. What was it like to return that night, after being out of wrestling for a while? 

D.C. : I was the one who initiated the comeback event in 1994. I had called Paul Heyman and Todd Gordon seeking to return to some part time work with ECW. They suggested the angle since I had worked with Nancy Sullivan in the past as well as Cactus Jack, Sandman, and Terry Funk. I wasn’t looking for anything spectacular, since I was quite content in my day job. I started training for this return several months before the show, and as luck would have it; I contracted food poisoning four weeks before the event. I had gotten so sick from this, that I had serious neurological symptoms that caused dizziness and memory problems. I was unable to stand up for nearly two weeks, and as a result was unable to train the way I had wanted to; so I did not go into the event in the best shape. When I walked into the locker room, I only knew a few people that night, like Taz, Tommy Dreamer, Mick, Nancy, Sandman, and Terry. I went out and did my thing. After several years of being out of the ring, I knew I was not in the shape that I needed to be. Paul approached me after the show and asked me if I wanted to work an angle with Tommy Dreamer, but out of respect to Paul and the other boys in the company; I respectfully declined thinking my best years were behind me. 

In 1996, I had planned another comeback and started working out very hard. I spent an average of two hours daily in the gym, planning to make this return a more positive one. However during the course of hitting the weights; I aggravated an old injury that I had incurred during a match with JT Smith in Philadelphia. I ended up having surgery on my shoulder where the AC joint was removed. After rehabilitation, I returned to the gym to pick up where I had left off. After one heavy workout, I started to experience pain in my chest; but chalked it up to a muscle pull. During the night, the pain grew worse and by the morning; I was having trouble breathing. I went to the hospital expecting to be diagnosed with a torn muscle and instead was admitted with a heart attack. An angioplasty revealed that all major arteries were seventy five to eighty five percent blocked. I had three stents placed in the arteries on that occasion. Further testing indicated that I had suffered a smaller heart attack at some time. I have been diagnosed with diffuse coronary artery disease. Since 1996, I have had yearly angioplasties; most recently in July of this year when four more stents were inserted. In speaking with the cardiologist, he strongly feels that my use of steroids during my wrestling and weightlifting career is directly responsible for the clogged arteries. What has amazed me is that what I used was minimal and under the supervision of a doctor. I had never used alcohol or other drugs, so I thought I was treating my body well. In many ways, I am lucky that I had my heart attack in my late thirties when I was still young and strong because this allowed me to get the early intervention work. But given what many wrestlers are using today as performance enhancers, I think we will continue to see people die prematurely. When I did these drugs, I did them legally and with a doctor. We had no idea of the side effects that would later be identified. Today, with more sophisticated drugs and more people using them; I have serious concerns for the future of today’s athletes. 

PETER : One final question. Do you have anything you’d like to promote here? 

D.C. : As I stated earlier, I have re-connected with a good friend; Johnny Lee Clary who wrestled as Johnny Angel for many years. Johnny has since become a reverend and now the president of Johnny Lee Clary International Ministries. He has written a book and is in the process of a movie deal. Johnny is also a fantastic motivational speaker. I, on the other hand; have returned to the counseling field and specialize in addiction disorders. Johnny and I have discussed putting together a program for wrestlers who have drug problems and need counseling and treatment. We have seen too many young men die due to drugs. The nature of treatment is to deal with issues of mind, body and soul. In my field of expertise, I can deal with the mind and body; and Johnny will deal with the spirituality. It is important to help these guys who have nothing to turn to when their wrestling days are over. I also would like to ask anyone who reads this to submit stories to me of inspiration and hope. Every year, I hold an event to celebrate National Recovery Month. For 2005, I am planning to publish a book with poems and short stories that will provide hope to those with addiction disorders. Anyone who is in recovery or with a motivational story or poem can send them to me for consideration of inclusion in the book. Any proceeds realized will go directly to the treatment of those who are homeless with mental health and substance abuse disorders, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. I would also recommend Johnny Lee Clary’s website to anyone who needs inspiration when facing tough choices in life. He has appeared on all of the major talk shows in the United States and abroad, and continues to spread his message around the world. 

PETER : I wish you the very best in the future with all your endeavors, and want to thank you sincerely for sharing your time for this interview.

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