Charity RGA UK has called on a number of UK venues to “reconsider their decision” to host a wrestling event which brands itself as “midget wrestling” as it tours England and Wales.
Extreme Dwarfanators Wrestling Show claims on its website to have been “voted #1 midget wrestling show by fans across America,” and features a line-up exclusively comprised of wrestlers with dwarfism.
Six venues throughout England and Wales will host the event next month, but chair of RGA UK Gill Martin has raised concerns that this “Victorian spectacle” facilitates violence towards people with dwarfism.
“Such shows are rarely primarily about genuine athleticism and regulated competition,” said Gill, “they’re about making people laugh at the Victorian spectacle of people with dwarfism fighting each other.
“As most average height people meet few, if any, people with dwarfism in real life, such representations matter for they negatively inform people’s perceptions and behaviours towards the rest of our community – limiting our personal choice to shape our own lives and self-image.
“Academic studies with people with dwarfism show 12% had experienced violence and we know of horrific examples of this happening in real life. We’re deeply disappointed to see these venues choose to facilitate the spectacle of violence towards people with dwarfism as entertainment for average height people, and we urge them to reconsider and finally move into the 21st century.”
We contacted the venues holding the events: Coyote Ugly Saloon in Cardiff and Liverpool, The Foundry in Torquay, Ferndown Leisure Centre in Dorset, the Corn Exchange in Devizes, and Morningside Arena in Leicester. Of these venues, only two had responded by the time of publication, Coyote Ugly and Ferndown Leisure Centre.
A spokesperson for Coyote Ugly told UNITE: “At Coyote Ugly Saloons we feature monthly wrestling events at our venues. When the wrestling promotion from the USA got in touch we initially did our own due diligence.
“We believe in equal rights and our bar is based around female empowerment and fun. Therefore, we would not want to be seen discriminating against people with Dwarfism. We understand the event is not a ‘circus act’ and that real athleticism is portrayed as well as the same levels of entertainment as our Coyote Nitro events.”
A spokesperson from Ferndown Leisure Centre told UNITE: “Following further information about the booking, we decided not to proceed with this booking.”
UPDATE 11/09/18: A spokesperson from the Corn Exchange in Devizes told UNITE: “The Venue took the booking in good faith as we are an inclusive venue and believe that irrespective of race, colour or ability, those who wish to take part in a legal activity should not be particularly prevented from doing so as a result of prejudice.
“It’s clear that feelings are running high on both side of the argument with concerns about how the event portrays dwarfism against the rights of individuals to exercise their legal right to perform as entertainers.
“We are currently reviewing our position, but it should be noted that the UK promotion material we have seen does not refer to the term “Midget” and has only been used by your publican [sic] and the RGA.”
UNITE would like to note that the term “midget wrestling” was taken directly from the website of Dwarfanators, as seen below.
Morningside Arena Leicester have also cancelled the event, informing customers via Twitter:
due to the tone of promotion for the forthcoming ‘Dwarfanators Professional Wrestling’ show it has been decided that we will be unable to host the event.
In light of the show now no longer going ahead any ticket holders are advised to contact the promoter for refunds. (2/2)
— Morningside Arena Leicester (@LeicesterArena) September 11, 2018
UNITE Magazine will update this post as and when replies are received.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine