A professional wrestling card set for tonight at Chantilly High School that was to have featured the Iron Sheik and a match between two midgets has been canceled after an official involved in Fairfax County's diversity training program complained.
Andy Shallal, who heads the Board of Education's human relations advisory committee, protested the event after receiving a promotional flier from a parent at the school. Shallal, an Arab American, said he was offended by what he called ehtnic stereotyping in the flier, which also featured other performers known as Salvatore Sincere, Wiseguy Jimmy Cicero and Doink the Clown.
The event was to have been a class project and fund-raiser for marketing students at Chantilly, said Bryan Holland, a marketing teacher at the school. He would not give details of the department's financial arrangements with the event's promoters but said money raised from the event would have been used to send marketing students to a leadership conference in Anaheim, Calif. The students had sold ads for the event's program and were the have worked at the show.
Citing the controversy over the Iron Sheik and the Midget Match, Assistant Principal Tammy Turner said in a letter faxed yesterday to co-promoter Kevin Heilbronner that "the school system will not permit this event to take place on school system property."
Shallal, who had been planning to protest at the event, said he was pleased by the cancellation, adding, "I'm sorry it had to take this long to come to what should have been an obvious solution."
A professional wrestling match at Chantilly High School was canceled last week by a Fairfax County School Board official who said the fund-raiser was culturally insensitive.
Now, after advancing through local and state competitions, Chantilly marketing students fear they won't be able to raise enough money to attend a national conference in California later this month.
Andy Shallal, chairman of the School Board's human relations advisory committee, complained after a parent sent him a promotional flyer for the event.
"The one [wrestler] this parent was concerned about was the Iron Sheik, which was an Arab character who plays the part of a heel, basically," Shallal said.
"He was rather big and menacing, and kind of the bad guy," Shallal added. "He basically acts like a fool."
Shallal said he was also concerned about a scheduled midget match "between two people of short stature."
"It just did not seem appropriate for a school setting to have such a function," Shallal said.
Teacher Bryan Holland said a large event like the professional wrestling match is the ideal class project for his sports and entertainment marketing class at Chantilly.
Students are required to learn about such things as sponsorship, advertising, legal contracts, concessions, and planning and executing an event, he said.
"This event covered from A to Z the curriculum of my class," Holland said.
Holland's students had already put in a lot of hours selling advertisement space for the event program. He said they would have learned the nuts and bolts of running such an event smoothly had the match, scheduled for Saturday night, not been canceled Friday afternoon.
"When you look at sports entertainment, the number one form of sports entertainment today is professional wrestling in terms of money and marketing," Holland said. "They're successful because of their marketing."
He said students turned away a lot of unhappy people Saturday night. "We really never expected this to happen," Holland said. "It was as if at the last minute the glass slipper fell off the foot."
Holland said his students, who come from deiverse ethnic backgrounds, were excited about the event. "The students of Chantilly High School were behind it 100 percent," he said.
Co-promoter Kevin Heilbronner said the administration at Chantilly High was supportive of the event. He said a professional wrestling performance at Fairfax High School was so well received last year that the wrestlers were invited back this year. But he said after the Chantilly event was canceled, the May 10 Fairfax High event was also canceled.
"It's certainly unfortunate," Heilbronner said. "The kids chose the talent they wanted, and in the end they got the shaft, too."
Heilbronner said that he has never received any threats from the Little People of America (LPA) regarding the midget wrestlers.
"The ironic thing is both midgets are card-carrying members of LPA," he said. "This is what they chose to do."
Heilbronner said the Iron Sheik, who is of Turkish descent, has been wrestling professionally for more than 25 years, after competing on the U.S. Olympic team in 1968.
Heilbronner said that when he went to make copies of the promotional flyer, a clerk, who is of Iranian descent, bought six tickets on the spot because the Iron Sheik is one of his favorite wrestlers.
"It's a show," Heilbronner said. "The biggest beef I have is it happened 48 hours before the show."
He said some out-of-state performers were already on their way to Chantilly when they learned Friday afternoon that the show had been canceled.
"I don't know that professional wrestling has even been taken that seriously," Heilbronner said. "I feel horrible for the kids who had a couple of thousand dollars invested in the ad sales go right down the tube," he added.
Shallal said his main concern was that negative stereotypes not be presented to the students. "Hopefully, they've all been sensitized to the issue of multi-culturalism and diversity," he said.
Holland said his students understand Shallal's concerns, but are disappointed that the event was canceled completely.
Proceeds from the wrestling event were to pay for three marketing students to attend the Distributive Eductation Clubs of America (DECA) mational leadership conference in Anahaim, Calif., later this month.
The three students qualified for the mational DECA competition at a statewide conference earlier this year.
Holland said he does not know how they will raise the $900 per student needed to attend the conference, which runs from April 29 to May 4.
"That's really hard to raise in a short period of time," he said.
Fairfax, VA -- Almost five months to the day a professional wrestling event scheduled for April 12th, at Chantilly High School was abruptly cancelled by the Fairfax County School Board, following considerable pressure from the American-Arab Anti-Defamation Committee (ADC), the Independent Pro Wrestling Alliance (IPWA) has filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County General District Court citing the Fairfax County School Board and Chantilly High School Principal Dale Rumberger for breach of contract.
The cancellation arose after considerable pressure from ADC representative and school board member Andy Shallal, who felt the event bred negative stereotypes. Shallal threatened that he would picket the event if it were not canceled.
The breach of contract on the part of Fairfax County Public Schools, which occurred at approximately 3pm on Friday, April 11th, was just 27 hours before the event was supposed to begin. It put a halt to an eight-match show featuring WWF stars Nikolai Volkoff, Salvatore Sincere and two midget stars.
The fundraiser show was a benefit for the Chantilly High School Marketing Education Department, who sold program ads for the event and would have reaped further benefits through concessions and rental payment. The abrupt shutdown sent promoters scurrying to cancel talent, travel plans, equipment and lodging.
As a result of the Chantilly cancellation, the May 10th, show at Fairfax High School was also canceled by the school board. The IPWA ran a similar benefit show at Fairfax High School in December 1995 that attracted over 900 fans.
The IPWA has not run a show since the Chantilly cancellation.