Sam DeCero

Before Shoot Interviews: Sam DeCero (part 1)

Sam DeCero is the founder and promoter of Windy City Wrestling, a Chicago-based wresting promotion. His office, where this 1991 interview took place, was decorated with posters from his wrestling tours of Japan, publicity stills of wrestlers who work for him, and a large television. A wrestling ring was right outside the office, where trainees were practicing their moves. After our interview, DeCero played a recently completed “MTV-type” video, which showed his top tag-team wrestlers riding in a limousine with beautiful women on their arms. DeCero was a compact, muscular man, who proudly described his work in the wrestling business in a gruff, but soft-spoken manner.

DeCero:  I’ve lived in Chicago all my life. I’ve been watching wrestling since I was old enough to know what it was all about– when my parents took me to the International Amphitheater to see the likes of the Dick the Bruiser, the Crusher, the Vachon Brothers, Hercules Cortez, all those types of people. I continued going to the matches all through my life.

I went into music in high school instead of sports. I was in a heavy metal band when I was 16, and stayed in that until I was 22. So I figured that was going to be my career. Still, I went to all the matches. I only weighed 165 pounds all through high school. One day, just for the hell of it, we recorded our first album in a studio. It was a demo tape. Then the band started going on the outs. After the most important thing finally came our way, everything started going sour. So I went to a wrestling match to blow off steam. I waited outside afterwards and asked a guy by the name of Paul Krusky how hard it was to get into the business. I said that I’d been watching it all my life. And he said, more or less, “Go away son. When you get up to two hundred pounds, give me a call someday.” So I quit the band and started working out.

Sam DeCero in front of barbed wire fence
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I figured, “OK, I’m determined to do this.” I got up to two hundred pounds in about three months. I was eating 10,000 calories a day. My diet was a shake in the morning with protein powder, two eggs, two bananas. And then I’d go out and have breakfast. Then I’d have a snack. Then I’d have lunch, usually two Whoppers, two Big Macs, something like that. Then I’d have another snack in the afternoon. Then I’d go train. Then I’d have another protein shake. Then I’d come home and have dinner, which was usually a steak, five baked potatoes, a whole can of corn, or beans, or peas, or something like that. And I’d have a snack before bedtime, like a sundae or something. So I was really piling it in. I got up to 200 pounds, went back to see him, and he couldn’t believe I was the same guy, because I wasn’t fat. I was muscular. I was working out six days a week, real hard.

I paid him to get into the business, just like you have to pay to get into this school. He took me down to Kentucky, and that’s where Randy “Macho Man” Savage trained me. Him and his dad, Angelo Poffo, and Lanny Poffo. I learned down there for about eight months. Then I went to work for Dick the Bruiser. I wrestled against Dick the Bruiser, a guy I watched when I was a little kid. I never dreamed of locking up with him. From that point on I met Mad Maxx. He became my tag team partner. We became the Maxx Brothers, and that’s how I became Super Maxx. My first name was Sammy Derro. Then I became Super Maxx, and we were bad guys. Then we went to work for the AWA, for Verne Gagne. From there I went to Japan, toured overseas a few times, and came back.

They train seven days a week in Japan. They use karate and everything in their matches. We went out there, and we wouldn’t let them intimidate us. We just started banging heads, and we ended up having good wrestling matches.  They respected us. As soon as they started throwing chops in, or kicks or something, to our stomachs, we’d just label them right in the face. That would set them back. Japanese fans are rowdy, but they’re afraid of Americans. We used to carry a whip, snap the whip and wrap it around their neck. So they’d panic, go nuts. And if they hit one of us, and one of the chaperones saw that, they’d take him in the back and practically beat him to death for hitting us. They were real strict. It was really a unique culture. I enjoyed it out there. It was clean, a lot cleaner than it is in this country. They mop the damn sidewalks in the morning. People were clean, restaurants were spotless. Man, you don’t even see a crumb on the table. It makes it real pleasant to eat, and just to be there. It’s real expensive, though.

Sam DeCero
Image Credit: Sam DeCero LinkedIn Profile

When I was wrestling, I had to wrestle Bruiser Brody, Adrian Adonis, Dick Murdoch, Jesse Ventura, Masa Saito, Nick Bockwinkel. I wrestled some tough guys when I first started, and they kicked the shit out of me. That was my first year. They were beating the hell out of me most of the time. But I learned a lot. They liked me because they saw that I had the business in my blood. They took time and talked to me afterwards, helped me along and gave me pointers. Without that kind of help, you don’t make it in this business.

I worked with the city, too. I worked a regular job. I fell off the top of a truck on a labor job. Landed on a steel plate and ruined my back and my career. I went in for surgery, had a disc removed and two fusions. When I was lying in the hospital bed, the doctor told me, “You’re gonna be fine, but you’ll never wrestle again.”

Green and white logo with lucha mask in the middle
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Thoughts from 2023:  What’s a wrestler to do when he can no longer wrestle?  Find out in part 2 of this interview, coming soon.  I would like to dedicate this blog to the memory Dean Rasmussen, co-founder of the Death Valley Driver Video Review.  Samoa Joe said it best in his May 5, 2023, Twitter post: “Dean Rasmussen was a wrestling fan who’s work helped other wrestling fans discover and learn to love wrestling from all over the world & from all time periods. If you have to be like anyone in your own fandom, be like Dean.”

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