Wrestler visits school to promote hall of fame

A professional wrestler visited Broadalbin-Perth Middle School Thursday, and much to the disappointm

A professional wrestler visited Broadalbin-Perth Middle School Thursday, and much to the disappointment of hundreds of pre-teens, he did not bodyslam anyone into the floor or smash a chair into someone’s head.

Instead, Scott Campione, 45, a gentle giant of a man with hands like bear paws and hair like Samson, signed dozens and dozens of autographs for students. He wrote his name in permanent ink on almost everything, from taco shells to casts, avoiding body parts along the way. He admitted that signing a piece of food was a first for him.

Campione, who was born and raised in Little Falls, was at the school for nearly two hours to promote the 11th annual Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction Weekend May 18-19 and a wrestling show May 18 at Broadalbin-Perth High School, at which Campione will defend his northeast heavyweight title against Tony Atlas.

If you go

WHAT: East Coast Professional Wrestling show

WHEN: 7 p.m. May 18

WHERE: Broadalbin-Perth High School, 100 Bridge St., Broadalbin

COST: $20 general admission; $30 golden ringside

TO GET TICKETS: Buy at www.flynntix.org; the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, 30 E. Main St., Amsterdam, 842-0022; or at the door.

The hall of fame is headquartered in Amsterdam.

Campione wrestled for a decade, hitting the big time and being featured on television from 1998 to 2000. He retired from full-time professional wrestling due to injuries obtained in the ring and from an earlier car accident when he was a senior in college. He wrestles only occasionally to support the hall of fame at various events throughout the country. He maintains a day job as a trainer in a New York state prison.

A portion of the proceeds from the wrestling show will benefit the Broadalbin-Perth sports booster club. Rebecca Brunell, club president, said the money will support the district’s junior varsity sports, which were cut in the tentative 2012-13 budget. Boosters hope to raise $21,000 for fall sports, $14,000 for winter sports and $8,000 for spring sports.

“We have six fundraisers right now that we are planning,” Brunell said.

This year’s hall of fame inductees are Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Dominic Denucci, the Wild Samoans, Jim Cornette, the late Junkyard Dog, Fritz Von Erich and women’s star Wendi Richter. Among the talent scheduled to appear at the event is wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino.

During his appearance at Broadalbin-Perth, Campione remained nonplussed that nearly all of the children who wanted autographs hardly knew him.

“None of these kids was born when I wrestled,” he said. He came anyway because, he said, “You get more of a buzz with middle school kids than with high school kids. The younger kids appreciate it more.”

The lack of name recognition did not stop the children from lining up for an autograph or to gawk at Campione, who weighs more than 250 pounds and is built like a linebacker.

“That’s why I am here, to get some publicity for the show,” he said good-naturedly. He also dispensed advice to the children: “Dream big, work hard and do well in school,” he repeated. He also told the children that he bulked up using multivitamins and hard work.

One student did recognize Campione, and she stood star-struck as he autographed first a piece of notebook paper and then her lunch bag. Teresa Spucches, 11, of Broadalbin, said she has watched all of Campione’s matches. “He is one of my favorites,” she said.

As she spoke, she clutched the autographed notebook paper close to her chest like a doll. She plans to get it framed and will keep it in her room.

Spucches did not know Campione was going to be at school that day; she found out when she went to lunch and recognized him. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, he is here,’ ” she said. “I like him because he is like my dad, only 10 times bigger. It is like really awesome.”

She planned to tell her dad she met Campione when she got home Thursday after school. “He is going to say, ‘Oh, my God,’ and ‘it’s awesome,’ ” she said.

Spucches said she wants to be a professional wrestler when she grows up. She is getting in shape now by sparring with her 13-year-old brother, using pillows. “Most of the time, I win,” she said.

Campione started wrestling in 1991 after he got out of rehabilitation from the car accident. “I love entertaining people,” he said.

He went to wrestling school and learned the ropes wrestling in different leagues. He caught a break when he met Randy “Macho Man” Savage, a legend in the profession, who died last year from a heart attack. Savage got him connected with the right people, and Campione hit the big time for a few years.

“I will do it as long as I can do it,” he said of his side-career helping the hall of fame.

Categories: Schenectady County

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