Updated: Dec 20, 2021
The man known as "Heartless Hellraiser Dracko" says his fight with leukemia gave him a new appreciation for the fragility of life.
By: Eric Kiefer, Patch Staff Aug 11, 2020 3:12 pm ET | Updated Aug 11, 2020 3:27 pm ET NUTLEY, NJ — A pro wrestler from New Jersey with a "bloodthirsty intensity that makes everyone cower" has gained a new appreciation for the "fragility of life" after his year-long battle with cancer.
On Tuesday, Nutley-based IWF Wrestling shared an update about Heartless Hellraiser Dracko and his inspiring victory against leukemia.
Dracko, a Bayonne native, isn't an easy person to push around. The IWF heavyweight champion tops 6 feet and wrestles at 230 pounds, according to the league's website. The IWF's tongue-in-cheek profile for Dracko – a former semi-pro football player with the Jersey City Stars, two-time power lifting champion and three-time strongman contest finalist – gives a glimpse into his extreme persona inside the ring.
"Dracko is a man who would slap his own grandmother in the face for 50 cents. Since his reign of terror began in 2016, he already captured the IWF heavyweight title in shocking fashion. Dracko has left a trail of carnage scattered throughout the country with his straight-forward, no-nonsense approach that intimidates many an opponent, as his bloodthirsty intensity makes everyone cower."
But the wrestling star's reign at the top began to hit a snag in 2018 when he "started feeling messed up," he recalled.
The gritty competitor admits he took too long to see a doctor, but just kept pushing through his daily workouts. It's something that other leukemia patients have experienced due to the disease's early symptoms, which can resemble the flu or other common illnesses.
Eventually, Dracko got the medical care he needed and started undergoing daily treatments at Hackensack University Medical Center. It wasn't an easy fight; he ended up losing 40 pounds and testing his mental fortitude in ways he never expected.
In the end, his perseverance paid off.
"I had my fourth bone marrow biopsy just three months after my (bone marrow) transplant, and I got the news that I am totally clean, no more Leukemia or Myelodysplastic Syndrome," Dracko said Tuesday.
"It's been a long road – I still have a way to go with my recovery – but I'm staying strong and positive," he added.
Dracko, a graduate of IWF Wrestling School in Nutley and winner of the annual 16-man Tournament of Champions competition in 2019, has resumed workouts while preparing for a return to action once the coronavirus pandemic has passed. But this time, he'll take a newfound appreciation for the "fragility of life" into the ring with him. "I'll never put my guard down for this disease and I now understand what it can do," he explained. "I don't really like talking about it or posting (on social media) about it, but it helped me when I got diagnosed to see that people beat leukemia, so I'm hoping that I can help someone say, 'I can do what he did.'"