Some call it empowering. Others call it belittling.
The Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation (EMWF) was founded in Oklahoma four years ago and has gone on to sell out venues across the United States including the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, said creator and producer Skyler Ward.
“I was booking entertainment at nightclubs and I wasn’t proud of what I was doing because I didn’t feel like the clubs were really making money,” said Ward. “So I started thinking, well, what has not been marketed? And it was midget wrestling.”
Despite being labeled as degrading by the Little People of America organization, Ward said the EMWF continues to grow in popularity. On Saturday, Nov. 16, the controversial show will make its first Canadian appearance at the O’Brians Event Centre in Saskatoon.
Ward maintains that the EMWF seeks to be supportive rather than mean-spirited.
“Our show is not derogatory,” he said. “These guys go from kids looking at them and pointing at them in the McDonalds, and then the next thing you know they’re up in the ring and they’re superstars.”
President of the Little People of Canada’s Saskatchewan branch, Heidi Hurley, said she has one main qualm with the event – and that’s the use of the term “midget.”
“I hate that word. I honestly do,” said Hurley.
She said it is typically used as an offensive slur, which makes her unsure of the EMWF’s motives.
“Some people might go to gawk and laugh, and others might go for the same reason they go to regular wrestling,” she said.
Hurley added that before she makes up her mind on whether the EMWF is a circus attraction or a real opportunity for little people, she plans to attend the spectacle in Saskatoon for herself.
“If this is how they’re putting supper on the table… then good for them,” she said. “But if it’s degrading, I wont be staying long.”