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   Fri, February 6, 2004



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Madusa a natural for monster trucks
By GREG DI CRESCE -- Winnipeg Sun


Madusa as Alundra Blaze in the WWF.

Years ago, she couldn't remember exactly when, Debra Miceli faced the full shock of jock Howard Stern. Miceli, then known as WCW wrestler Madusa and certainly no shrinking violet, shot back.

Stern turned off her microphone.

The blonde bombshell walked out.

And, in a snapshot, that's Miceli.

That's the woman who's foot will be hard on the pedal of the monster truck named Madusa at this weekend's Monster Jam at the Winnipeg Arena.

She's a women whose not afraid to speak her mind, to take risks.

However, she's also a women who's learned, often not easily, one of life's more difficult and subtle lessons -- knowing when to move on.

Today, it's certainly that knowledge which brings her to this city and places her in control of a 1,500 horsepower, 10,000-pound mass of metal.

"I'm not afraid to change, to just get up and go," Miceli said yesterday during a telephone interview from her log home on a 200-acre patch of land in Virginia. "The way I see it is who gives a heck if you fall down, just try again. Look, my life has been filled with failure, upon failure, upon failure. But, from my experience, success is built upon failures.

"Some people want to hide when they fail. I'm not embarrassed. I'm a survivor and I'm not going anywhere."

Her survival instincts were honed jumping from foster home to foster home as basically a parentless kid growing up in Minneapolis.

She took a job at Arby's and set about to train to be a nurse.

At the same time, she ached for the fame connected to that "feeling of entertaining and being on a whole different world."

Miceli began wrestling in bars for $5 a night. She said she loved all the attention and the buzz she got off it.

The hobby became a consuming passion, as she continued to push herself, going as far as to try steroids to firm up her body faster.

"A doctor knew about it and when, after a few weeks, I started (passing) blood I stopped," the 40-year-old driver and dog groomer said, adding she tried the drug in her early 20s. "I never used steroids again."

But she did continue with wrestling -- first as Alundra Blayze and then Madusa -- climbing to the top of both the WWF and, later, the WCW.

However, when she learned in 1999-2000 that the WWF aimed to buy out the WCW, Miceli began to look at options other than wrestling.

She'd had a falling out with Vince McMahon, who ran the WWF, and had no interest going back to work for him.

"I'm sure some people see the move to monster trucks as odd but it suits me. I've always been a closet gearhead and always loved my Harley," said Miceli, who managed to retain the trademark rights to Madusa. "Driving a monster truck came naturally to me, thank God. ... Besides, I have no interest in joining wrestling that's reverted to bra-and-panty matches. ... Nobody has to worry about people taking off their tops and showing their breasts (in monster trucking)."

Monster Jam -- which fifth-year driver Miceli described as trucks rather than people on steroids -- gets underway tonight at the Arena at 8 p.m. It'll also run Saturday, with a pit party beginning at 5 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 a person and available through Select-A-Seat.

Last year, the three-day event drew about 15,000 people.


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