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  1. ITV Report

Dwarf wrestling event defends show after calls for it to be cancelled

Credit: Extreme Dwarfanators Wrestling

A dwarf wrestling event due to take place in Wales has defended its shows after being hit with criticism.

The Extreme Dwarfanators Wrestling shows are due to be held in Swansea and Cardiff in October and feature people with dwarfism fighting each other.

The show's website describes the event as a "mix of showmanship, hustle, and pure entertainment."

But one charity has compared it to a "freak show" claiming such shows will make violence against people of restricted growth more likely and has called for the events to be cancelled.

Credit: Extreme Dwarfanators Wrestling

We remain resolute in our belief that such events are primarily about encouraging audiences to laugh at people with dwarfism and the spectacle of violence against dwarf bodies as entertainment for average height people.

Studies with people with dwarfism showed 12% experienced physical violence. We believe such shows make the violence and abuse many in our community face more – not less – likely.

We’re well aware these individuals chose to participate in this spectacle. But their choice sustains an insidious stereotype affecting the rest of us and our ability to choose our own self-image and lead the type of lives we value.

And as long as these stereotypes affect our community – our families, friends, and children – we will speak out against them, and we strongly urge the UK venues that have booked this act to reconsider.

– Gill Martin, Chair of Restricted Growth Association UK

The company, which has been running the tours for ten years, says the shows can draw audiences anywhere from 500 to 3,000. It told ITV News the aim of the event is to "change perception of people with disabilities".

The aim of the event is change perception of people with disabilities and they have each overcome this with some dramatic life-changing stories. They have trained hard to become professional athletes, overcoming many diversities in life, in order to feel empowered to be able to become the professional athletes they are today.

Many of the wrestlers in the show have not left the USA and have invested time, money and in some cases, their life savings to be able to tour the UK.

– Extreme Dwarfanators Wrestling

It added it is not a derogatory or degrading show and the wrestlers can earn above-average wages of between $35,000 and $50,000 per year.

I choose to ensure that I do not let my disability affect my life and I have overcome so much discrimination by educating people by what I have achieved.

– Derec Pemberton, Wrestler

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Venues due to host the event Leicester and Ferndown, near Bournemouth, have already cancelled performances.

The company said it is "not a circus but a passion" and that dwarf wrestlers have become role models in the community.

It added its wrestlers are "highly trained athletes" who have "trained hard to be perfect in the game".

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