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Opinion: Thoughts From The Chubby Guy 55: For A Friend…Dany Yamz

Dany Yamz Courtesy of Real Deal Wrestling

Opinion

Opinion: Thoughts From The Chubby Guy 55: For A Friend…Dany Yamz

Good morning, dear readers, this is your favorite wrestling writer, Gregory Black, and I am here to bring you yet another edition of your favorite morning, afternoon, or evening read, “Thoughts From The Chubby Guy”, better known as TFTCG. And today… I feel… Kinda numb, emotionally.

You see, originally, this article was supposed to be about my thoughts on the tragic Orlando Shooting, in where 49 people lost their lives due to, well, what appears to be a case of self-hatred and confusion. And while I do feel very strongly about the situation, something happened that was, in every sense of the word, unexpected… And heart breaking.

As I awoke Tuesday afternoon, after working a fairly long work shift the night before, I was preparing to conduct the Scotty Riggs interview, which was to take place two hours later. As I got out of bed, I heard a ding from my phone, the sound that comes from Facebook Messenger. I found it kind of weird that I received a message as soon as I woke up, and usually, I get messages on there, but don’t exactly check them as soon as I get them.

However, something told me to check it, I don’t know what it was, but, I picked up my phone, unlocked it, and decided to check. It was a message from my friend Walter. Walter and I went way back, about 20 years, to be exact, and though we lost contact, we found each other on FB, friended each other, and would occasionally hit each other up.

But, this message was different. Very different.

Walter’s first words to me were “Hey bro, long time no speak. I just heard about Danny.” 

Danny? Needless to say, I was confused at first, since I had just woken up and all, so I continued the message, and he asked me how old Danny was. He ended the message with “How are you doing these days, separate from the tragedy?” It took me a brief moment to realize that he was talking about a friend that I hadn’t seen in person in years, a man who wrestled by the name Dany Yamz.

I immediately looked Yamz up on FB, hoping that nothing serious had happened, but, upon getting to his page, I found countless posts from friends and family, giving him a send off. “RIP” adorning each and every post. The worst did happen. Danny died. My friend, someone who at one point, I considered a brother, gone.

How? Why him? The man had a wife, two babies, he was happy being a dad. Why him?!

Yamz, whose real name was Danny De La Cruz, was honestly someone who you could call one of a kind. He could be straightforward, he could be playful, at times, he could be serious. When you were in his good graces, he treated you like gold. Always one to make you laugh, there for you whenever you cried, a friend that in every sense of the word, was wholesome.

I first met Danny around the time I went to Junior High. A friend of mine took me to an after school spot where you could run around, play sports, flip, all kinds of stuff. The place was called Tony’s Gym, and it was run by a man by the name of Anthony Dalton, who was a former military man, and in his older years, many of us who went to the gym thought he would have been the death of us, hehehe.

I have to laugh, because it was something that all of us on the wrestling side, I’ll explain that in a second, thought honestly of this amazing senior. He would have the gym open for hours, and the entire time he was there, he was working out. Three straight hours of working out. Insanity.

It would take a friend of mine, Joey, who would introduce me to the three people I would later on call my family, Alex, Anthony, and Danny. When I told them that I was interested in wrestling, they decided to try me out, and I would wind up wrestling Danny one on one. Of course, when I say wrestle, I mean backyard wrestled, because none of us were professionals.

We wrestled on the “Wrestling Side” of the gym, which was a smaller room where one side was completely padded, which served as the ring, there was a center hub, which had seating, had heavy punching bags connected to it, amongst other things that were meant to help the kids who visited workout and get the stresses of the day out.

Well, after holding my own against Danny, I wound up getting in the good graces with the guys, and wound up hanging out with them after the gym. Okay, I hung around them uninvited, but, eventually, through them, I met a whole group of people who would later on become life long friends.

Of course, me still going through puberty didn’t help, as I looked older than I actually was, and because I hung around them, my first impression to them wasn’t exactly something that would be favorable, as they invited me to be a part of their backyard promotion “DF”, or “Da’ Federation”. It was a play off of being in the hood, and it was thought up by kids. Heh. Well, the name they gave me, at first, was “The Stalker”. Yeah, can you tell I might have creeped them out?

Over time, I continued to wrestle under that name, until eventually, I got tired of it, and they gave me a new name, which kind of coincided with my wrestling style. I was then called “The NutBall”. I would eventually wind up in a team with Danny, who wrestled under the name of “Exterminator”, and our boy David Vargas, or Vargie, for short, who went by the name “The Million Dollar Kid”.

We would form the trio known as the “L3”, the “Los Latinos Locos”, as Vargie and I are Puerto Rican and Danny was Dominican. We became wildly popular with the kids from the larger side, as they would come and watch all of us put on shows, recording our matches on VHS Cam. Yes, this was in the 90s, folks, we were doing it up on VHS.

Danny and I would eventually win the DF Tag Team Titles, after struggling against other teams, and we had a pretty good run with them.

Look at me, I’m talking about my backyarding days like a Hall of Famer, heh. I would be lying if I said they weren’t great memories to look back upon, they weren’t the only ones, but, they were fun ones.

Outside of the gym, we all hung out, going to Vargie’s house to play video games, bug out, joke around, all the things you do with those who you consider your best friends. On the nights of major PPVs, we would go over to Danny’s house, because his family would order them for him, and we enjoyed the best parts of the Attitude Era and the WWE/WCW wars in Danny’s room, which, was cramped, due to his platform bed, I usually got stuck by the window, behind everyone, so, I couldn’t really see all of the action.

It was our collective passion for professional wrestling which would lead us first to RDW, Real Deal Wrestling (Bronx), then to Doghouse Wrestling Gym, which was the home of LIWF, where Danny would become a household name. As someone who was revered for his size and ability, he would find success, being part of the “Elm Street Kids” stable, with Psycho, Rayza and the rest. He would be taken under the wing of the New York King of Hardcore, LowLife Louie Ramos, and they would have some of the bloodiest and most memorable matches the city had seen.

To yours truly, the fact that he hadn’t been picked up by the likes of CZW or IWA Mid-South for his hardcore styling is still a shock to me, he could hang with the best of them.

Years would pass, and eventually, Dany hung up the boots. Life was calling, and while he was working steady work, life became more important than the old rush of the crowd. He was no longer Dany. He was back to being Danny. Back to the grind, and back to working hard in a different field.

We lost touch for a few years, but, reconnected on FB, and would occasionally chat. Whether it was wrestling, politics, or the like, it was always good to hear, or read, his points of view, and whether I agreed with them or not, it was still good to interact with him, for hearing from old friends can, and usually is, a good thing.

When I started to work on my health again, I was surprised by the fact that Danny supported my journey back into good health, but, to be honest, I really shouldn’t have been. Because no matter what came between us, we were always family. And family… Always sticks together, no matter the distance.

So, Danny, while I will make it my purpose to see you later on today at your wake, just know that you will never be forgotten, brother. We were brothers in arms for many years, grew into adulthood together, laughed and mourned together. I can’t forget about you, bro, you partially helped to mold me into the man I became today. And that is something that I will never forget. Rest Easy, bro, I’ll see you in the next life.

Dany Yamz

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2 Comments

  1. DEE

    June 16, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    FOUND YOUR ARTICLE BY ACCIDENT, AND I THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR HAVING BEEN A PART OF MY COUSINS LIFE, READING YOUR STORY BROUGHT SO MUCH PEACE AND LOVE INTO MY HEART, I AM DANNY’S COUSIN FROM HIS MOTHERS SIDE, SHE IS MY MOTHERS SISTER. DANNY AND I ALTHOUGH I AM A FEW YEARS OLDER GREW UP IN AN ERA WHERE FAMILY AND CLOSE FRIENDS CAME BEFORE ANYTHING…IT WAS CLEAN, INNOCENT AND WHOLESOME….I HAVE AN EMPTY SPACE IN MY HEART ONE THAT I CAN’T EVEN BEGIN TO EXPLAIN ESPECIALLY SINCE I CAN’T BE AT HIS WAKE NOR HIS BURIAL….I’LL BE MAKING MY WAY TO SEE HIM THIS WEEKEND AND I ASSURE YOU THAT I WILL MAKE IT MY BUSINESS TO VISIT HIM AND SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH HIM….UNFORTUNATELY IT WONT BE THE KIND THAT I WOULD HAVE WISHED FOR, BUT HE KNOWS HOW MUCH I AND ALL HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS LOVE HIM AND THAT COMFORTS ME IF NOT A LITTLE…..AGAIN THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR BEAUTIFUL STORY….IT MADE ME SMILE AND THIS PAST WEEK IT’S BEEN REALLY HARD TO DO THAT!! MUCH BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY…..

    DEE

    • Gregory Black

      June 21, 2016 at 3:31 am

      Dee, I thank you and your family for raising such an awesome individual such as Danny. He was a good friend and comrade to me and the crew. He will be sorely missed.

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