Updated: Mar 29
(By: David Mosca | The Jersey Journal) - Heartless Hellraiser Dracko has had many challenging battles in his career in the squared circle. In 2017, he won the Independent Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship against Roman Zachary, a title he still holds today, and was named IWF Wrestler of the Year.
In 2019, he won the 16th Annual 16-Man Tournament of Champions competition. That tournament on August 25 would be his last time wrestling in the ring for the time being, because Dracko was about to go one on one with his biggest opponent yet: cancer.
A lifelong Bayonne resident standing at 6-foot-1 and wrestling at 230 pounds, Dracko began daily treatments to fight off the dreaded disease at Hackensack University Medical Center. But the signs were there long before he stepped out of the ring in 2019.
“The summer of 2018 is when I started feeling messed up and I took too much time before I went to the doctor,” Dracko said. “I am down 40 pounds and it took a lot out of me, but I would never let it be known.”
Many types of leukemia exist. The most common form in adults involves the white blood cells, which are potent infection fighters. They grow and divide in an orderly way, as your body needs them. For people with leukemia, the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don’t function properly.
Dracko went through four bone marrow biopsies, along with one transplant, and chemotherapy. Despite wearing him down, he wasn’t going to let it get the three-count fall on him. This was a fight he knew he was going to win.
“I was not going to allow this to have any power over me or feed in to it,” he said. “I wasn’t going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. If someone would try to address it I would just brush it off. But it helped me when I got diagnosed to see that people beat leukemia, so I am hoping that I can help someone say, ‘I can do what he did.’”
Wrestling wasn’t the be-all end-all for Dracko. He was also a former semi-pro football player with the Jersey City Stars, a two-time Powerlifting Champion, and three-time Strongman Contest finalist. He began training at IWF Wrestling School in September 2016 and graduated from the program in June 2017. His in-ring influences include Randy Savage, Dynamite Kid, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and Razor Ramon.
It was announced earlier this month that Dracko emerged victorious in his year-long war against cancer, which he says he “took in stride.” With the ongoing pandemic putting live events on hold, he is currently spending his time getting back into shape for his in-ring return.
“Brushing my teeth made me feel like I was doing a 100 yard sprint,” he said. “It was that brutal. I was in great shape before I was diagnosed but if you saw me when I was sick, you wouldn’t have thought I lifted a weight in my life.”
Currently at a weight of 175 pounds, he was able to dead lift up to 315 pounds, squat at 255, and overhead press 155 in the past week. He’s also been doing running wind sprints.
“I’m still light but I’m working my way back up little by little,” he says. “I’ve got about 30 pounds to go but I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
IWF was formed in 1999 and is based in Nutley. Information about its history, events, and wrestlers can be found at CampIWF.com.