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Bullying gets beat-down in kid-friendly show
Bad-guy wrestlers all finish last
By SHELLEY COOK - For The Winnipeg Sun


WINNIPEG -- Fists were flying at the River Heights Community Centre on Sunday afternoon, and it was all in the name of reducing bullying.

Classic Canadian Wrestling held a free show aimed at teaching the young audience a lesson in bullying.

The venue, where the good guys emerged victorious in every match, was similar to the good ol’ days of wrestling, in the 1970s and ’80s, when there was a clear definition of who was the heel and who was the babyface. The emphasis on Sunday’s kid-friendly show was more about entertainment and storytelling than it was about glitz and glam.

“We’re not laying out the matches to sell a pay-per-view, we’re laying out the matches to teach the kids a lesson,” explained host and producer Marty Gold. “We wanted something where the kids could suspend their disbelief and still be in tune with the storytelling. It’s the furthest thing away from arena wrestling.”

Gold said the idea to incorporate the anti-bullying message into the storyline came last October, when the CCW did a show in the Gilbert Park neighbourhood. At first he said he wasn’t sure if the kids would take to the to the anti-bullying message, especially since the show was almost completely improvised.

The message wasn’t lost on five-year-old Aiden Bridge, who came to the show with his dad Jay and his little brother Dylan, 3.

“I wished that the good guys would win every single match,” said the little boy. “And I guess my wish came true.”

For promoter and heel headliner, Rick (Leatherface) Taras, a 28-year veteran who has wrestled all over the world, showing kids that it’s not OK to be a bully — even in the wrestling ring — is something that he hopes to share with a wider audience. He said he’d especially like to bring his show to remote northern communities, where suicide rates are high, so that he can show kids that wrestling can be a way out for them, as it was for him.

‘Eyes light up’

“I can go into the northern communities and see the kids, in their faces, their eyes light up,” said Taras. “To me that’s worth more than any money. I do this not only to put food on my table, but also because I enjoy seeing happy kids.”

For more information on Classic Canadian Wrestling, or to book a show, contact Marty Gold at martygoldlive@gmail.com.