[I've lived in] Chicago all my life. I've been watching wrestling since I was old enough to know what it was all about, when my parents took me to the International Amphitheater to see the likes of Bruiser, Crusher, the Vachon Brothers, Hercules Cortez, all those types of people. I continued going to all the matches all through my life.
I went into music in high school instead of sports. I went into a heavy metal band when I was 16, stayed in that until I was 22, so I figured that was going to be my career. Still, I went to all the matches. I only weighed 165 pounds all through high school. And one day, just for the hell of it, we recorded our first album in a studio. It was a demo tape. And then the band started going on the outs. After the most important thing finally came our way, everything started going sour. So I went to a wrestling match to blow off steam. I waited outside afterwards and asked a guy by the name of Paul Krusky how hard it was to get into the business. I said I'd been watching it all my life. And he said, more or less, "Go away son. When you get up to 200 pounds, give me a call someday." So I quit the band and started working out.
I figured, "OK, I'm determined to do this." I got up to 200 pounds in about 3 months. I was eating 10,000 calories a day. My diet was a shake in the morning with protein powder, two eggs, two bananas, and then I'd go out and have breakfast. Then I'd have a snack, then I'd have lunch, usually two Whoppers, two Big Macs, something like that. Then I'd have another snack in the afternoon. Then I'd go train. Then I'd have another protein shake. Then I'd come home and have dinner, which was usually a steak, five baked potatoes, a whole can of corn, or beans, or peas, or something like that. And I'd have a snack before bedtime, like a sundae or something. So I was really piling it in. I got up to 200 pounds, went back to see him, and he couldn't believe I was the same guy, because I wasn't fat, I was muscular. I was working out six days a week, real hard.
So I paid him to get into the business, just like
you have to pay to get into this school. He took me down to Kentucky, and
that's where Randy "Macho Man" Savage trained me. Him and his dad, Angelo
Poffo, and Lanny Poffo. So I learned down there for about eight months,
then I went to work for Dick the Bruiser. I wrestled against Dick the Bruiser,
a guy I watched when I was a little kid. I never dreamed of locking up
with him. From that point on I met Mad Maxx. He became my tag team partner.
We became the Maxx Brothers, and that's how I became Super Maxx. My first
name was Sammy Derro, then I became Super Maxx, and we were bad guys. Then
we went to work for the AWA, Verne Gagne. From there I went to Japan, toured
overseas a few times, came back.
They train seven days a week out there [in Japan]. They use karate and everything in their matches. We went out there, and we wouldn't let them intimidate us. We just started banging heads, and we ended up having good wrestling matches, and they respected us. As soon as they started throwing chops in, or kicks or something, to our stomachs, we'd just label them right in the face. That would set them back. [Japanese fans] are rowdy, but they're afraid of Americans. We used to carry a whip, snap the whip and wrap it around their neck, so they'd panic, go nuts. And if they hit one of us, and one of the chaperones and one of the Japs saw that, they'd take him in the back and practically beat him to death for hitting us. They were real strict. It was really a unique culture. I really enjoyed it out there. It was clean, a lot cleaner than it is in this country. They mop the damn sidewalks in the morning. People are clean, restaurants were spotless. Man, you don't even see a crumb on the table. It makes it real pleasant to eat, and just to be there. It's real expensive, though.
When I was wrestling, I had to wrestle Bruiser Brody, Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, Jesse Ventura, Saito, Nick Bockwinkel. I wrestled some tough guys when I first started, and they kicked the shit out of me. That was my first year. They were beating the hell out of me most of the time. But I learned a lot. They liked me because they saw that I had the business in my blood. They took time and talked to me afterwards, helped me along and gave me pointers. Without that kind of help, you don't make it in this business. You just don't.
I worked with the city, too. I worked a regular job. And I fell off the top of a truck on a labor job. Landed on a steel plate and ruined my back and my career. I went in for surgery, had a disc removed and two fusions. When I was lying in the hospital bed, the doctor told me, "You're gonna be fine, but you'll never wrestle again."
So I figured, "How am I going to stay in the business? I can be a manager maybe, a referee maybe, but, naah, I'm smarter than that. I'll start my own business." I got out of the hospital, and between my parents, my brothers, my best friends, my boss at work, I rounded up investors. I got a good amount of money put together, started Windy City Wrestling, and this is our fourth year now.
I started the training school on the South Side in an old barn. In the winter we had to use a torpedo heater just to keep it warm. The was air coming through all the wood. There was no siding or anything. Now we're in this beautiful cement building, a 1,500-square-foot building. And now we're opening up a second school on the South Side. The promotion itself, we've had over 80 shows. We've done fund-raisers for Toys for Tots, Muscular Dystrophy, Maryville City for Youth. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless show we just did at the Amphitheater had 4,000 people there, and it raised a lot of money for them. So we're getting recognition for doing charity work.
Plus, we have, as far as I'm concerned, the best wrestlers in the business. These guys work their asses off. I mean, seriously, they really train hard. And they're not like anything else you'll see on TV. What's on TV now, as far as I'm concerned, is bullshit. What I brought back into the business is what used to happen years ago at the Amphitheater with the Bruiser and the Crusher. Ours is real. Their's isn't. WWF is a circus. Carnival crap. You have to see our show to know what I'm talking about. We use chairs and blood and, I'm mean, it's happening. We're giving people their money's worth, plus a show they can't see anywhere else. That's why we're attracting so much attention now. Magazines are picking us up, newspapers. We were just on Channel 32.
Our television show's been on the air for three years. It's a half-hour format. We're on five markets now. I edit it, produce it, direct it. I'm even the cameraman on some of the parts. I didn't go to school for any of this. I just fell into it. When I went into music, I had to learn how to play music. When I went into television, I just picked up a camera and started rolling, with a few pointers on how to focus and color balance and things like that. I picked it up instantly. I just did my first music video. It came out real nice.
What we're trying to give the fans, not only their money's worth, and a different show, but.... I've just about had it with people saying how phony the business is, because it isn't. The WWF's phony. You can see it. They don't hide it. They say, "Yeah, we're phony. Come and see us anyway." But, now the people have just about had enough of that. They're not drawing big crowds anymore. [Hulk] Hogan's practically dead. His time's ran out. He might be a big movie star now, but the wrestling part of it is over. The NWA's practically out the door already. They have nothing. They don't even have a leg to stand on, anymore, really.
I met Mike Gretchner when I was in my first year
in the business, and he helped me get around and meet people. He became
my number-one investor when I decided to start this business. Now he's
General Manager and my best buddy.
[To attend the wrestling school], you have to be 18 years or older, and you have to pay the tuition fee: $2,500. And then we make them a pro wrestler. And they don't work until they are good like I want them to be. We have divisions, we have lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight. We're the first promotion to ever do that. So anyone can come in. If you weigh 169, you can be in the lightweight division. If you're 260 and over, you're in the heavyweight division. Anywhere between is middleweight.
If a fund-raising organization buys a package from us, we supply the print material, posters, flyers, etc. We get them tickets, so they have tickets to sell, plenty in advance of the show. And then Mike does the booking. He puts the matches together, he contacts the talent and makes sure they're there that night at a certain time. We supply the organization with television advertising on our show, get press releases out, and the rest is usually on them. They have to hustle tickets, make sure the posters get up. And then the night of, we bring the whole show to them. We bring the talent, sound, everything.
Right now we are under the impression from our
peers and other promoters in the country that we rank fifth. Fifth in the
country. The WWF's number one, the NWA's number two, and we're the fifth.
I think, with our goals and what we're trying to accomplish, I think we'll
be number one at one point in time. The WWF's just gonna ... I think they're
gonna go in a different direction. The NWA, like I said, are on their last
legs. Portland is ready to close. So I think we can take over.