Updated: Dec 11, 2021
BAYONNE NJ – In the biggest battle of his life, IWF Wrestling Heavyweight Champion Heartless Hellraiser Dracko emerged victorious in his year-long war against cancer.
Dracko, hailing from Bayonne, NJ, was given a clean bill of health in late-May, overcoming Leukemia, which is cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
“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 – I am negative,” said Dracko.
Many types of Leukemia exist. The most common form in adults involves the white blood cells, which are potent infection fighters — they normally grow and divide in an orderly way, as your body needs them. But in people with Leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don't function properly.
Dracko, who stands six-foot-one and wrestles at 230 pounds, underwent daily treatments to fight off the dreaded disease at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“The summer of 2018 is when I started feeling messed up and I took too much time before I went to the doctor,” Dracko confessed. “I am down 40 pounds and it took a lot out of me, but I would never let it be known – you just have to win the hour, win the day, win the week, and never give in to it. Focus day-by-day.”
Dracko, a former semi-pro football player with the Jersey City Stars, two-time Powerlifting Champion and three-time Strongman Contest finalist, won the IWF Heavyweight Title in 2017 and comes away from this experience with a new appreciation for the fragility of life.
“I'll never put my guard down for this disease and I now understand what it can do,” Dracko 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) and it helped me, so I am hoping that I can help someone say, ‘I can do what he did.’”
Leukemia symptoms are often vague and not specific. You may overlook early Leukemia symptoms because they may resemble symptoms of the flu and other common illnesses.
Sometimes, Leukemia may be discovered during blood tests for other conditions. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.
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 eyeing an in-ring return once live events restart after the pandemic.
“It's been a long road – I still have a way to go with my recovery, but I’m staying strong and positive,” Dracko said.
Now that is what champions are made of.
Established in 1998, award-winning IWF Wrestling produced 707 family-friendly Live Events and Fundraisers with WWE Hall of Famers and Legends in 25 cities throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Nationally-accredited IWF Wrestling School, based in Woodland Park and Nutley, NJ, had 52 graduates receive WWE, NXT, ROH, NWA and IMPACT tryouts with 14 employed.