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'Extreme' midgets wrestle at Turkeyfest (video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Oct. 14, 2012 at 5:14 a.m.

Danny "Little Nasty Boy" Campbell, 47, lifts  Chris Blanton,"Little Fabio," 23, high over his head during the final Extreme Midget Wrestling match at Turkeyfest in Cuero.

At a glance

WHO: Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation

WHAT: Wrestling matches with dwarfs that draw between 300 to 500 spectators.

WHERE: The federation tours the United States, South America, Europe and Japan.

MORE INFO: extrememidgetwrestling.com

Eye-gouging and body slamming isn't everyone's childhood dream.

But for professional wrestler Danny "Little Nasty Boy" Campbell, thrashing around a ring with fellow Extreme Midget Wrestling teammates is a dream come true.

"It's all I thought about growing up," the 3-foot-5-inch Campbell, 47, said of his enthusiasm for wrestling as a boy. "I would wrestle anyone when I was younger - big guys, old guys, it didn't matter."

These days, however, he earns a living wrestling the small guys, spending up to 300 days a year on tour wrestling other midgets.

"We're a very bonded family. They're my brothers. But we're very professional, and our job comes first." he said, mentioning the team's preference for the term "midget" or "dwarf" rather than "little person." "We're based out of Oklahoma City, but for me, a hotel is my home."

In red spandex and carpenter boots, a scruffy, bleach-blond Campbell prepared Sunday to strut through the Cuero Turkeyfest main pavilion and jump inside the wrestlers' ring.

After three decades wrestling, the adrenaline of pre-show is as nerve-wracking as it ever was, he said.

"I still get nerves before I go out there, but you know, once you lose that nervousness, it's over," he said.

Amid the boom of echoing rock music, a sea of roaring fans encircled the ring, shouting and cheering for the two-hour match to commence.

Campbell acknowledged some of the fans attend midget wrestling because they're bemused at the team's stature. But he views their curiosity and interest in the sport as an opportunity to demonstrate the strength and normalcy of dwarfs.

"People come to see us because we're an oddity. They don't think we can do the things we do. But size doesn't mean anything in life," Campbell said. "I've got twice the advantage, and my brain is the biggest advantage."

Campbell said he uses his wits to outsmart fellow teammates in the ring.

Though bonded, when the wrestlers begin a match, Campbell said, all bets are off. There is no mercy, and everything from chairs and ladders to gymnastics and martial arts are used to beat down other midgets in the ring.

"They call it extreme for a reason. The people who come to this show can expect anything and everything to happen. Midgets are going to fly," he chuckled. "We do a lot of crazy things that are not seen on Nickelodeon. And it's even worse when there's alcohol involved."

Turkeyfest Entertainment Director Cory Thamm said he booked the Extreme Midget Wrestlers because he knew it would draw interest and drive attendance to the festival. He compared it with the World Wrestling Federation.

"It's something different and unique. When I ran it by a few people, I couldn't find anyone who wasn't interested in seeing it," Thamm, 35, said. "I think there's a little bit of curiosity about (the wrestlers), but I don't think anyone is here to make fun of them. It's a legit deal, and people want to see it."

One eager spectator, Chad Cummings, of Worthington, Minn., said he's attended Turkeyfest for many years, but the midget wrestling event was an unexpected bonus.

"It's the only festival where you can see legendary music one night, and midget wrestling the next day," said Cummings, RadioWorks owner and on-air personality.

Standing on an elevated stage in the back of the pavilion, Cummings cupped his mouth with his hands and hollered at the wrestlers as they flipped and tumbled through the air.

"I've been to a number of wrestling events, but never midget wrestling," Cummings laughed. "They're showmen. They're doing a good job and they're interacting with the kids, and they're having fun. I'm all for it and here to cheer it on."

Campbell said he looks forward to continuing his career as a professional wrestler and many more years of beating on his brothers.

"I told all my brothers that ring over there is my coffin. I'm going to die there," he said. "That's just how I roll."

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