PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A wrestling performer may seem to be an unlikely choice to speak out against bullying.
But youngsters at Ross Elementary School responded enthusiastically Monday morning, to the man they call “The Miz.” Mike Mizanin (his real name) immediately makes his intentions known.
“We’re trying to prevent bullying,” he says to an audience of fourth through sixth graders. “Get rid of it. Get it out of here. How many of you have been bullied, ever?”
Almost every hand goes up. Through WWE’s “Be a Star” campaign, wrestlers speak directly to kids who follow their exploits.
“Don’t be a bully!” the wrestler shouts. “Be a star!” the students respond.
Anti-bullying resonates, now more than ever.
“Nowadays, there are so many venues to bully,” Mizanin says. “I mean, not only are they getting bullied at school and on the playground, but the Internet is the number one form of bullying.”
The wrestling star has a special connection with his audience. Long before he became “The Miz,” Mizanin was bullied almost every day, in an elementary school near Cleveland, Ohio.
“I wasn’t six-one and 220 pounds as I am now,” he tells his audience. “I was this tall, and about 80 pounds. I had buck teeth, and people would call me ‘horse face.’ It sounds funny now, but when I was your age it hurt my feelings. And I didn’t know what to do about it.”
Anti-bullying wrestlers may seem contradictory, but Mizanin says, “WWE is entertainment. Watch it for entertainment value, like you watch any other TV show. We have villains, we have heroes. we have good, we have bad. But we realize in your life, it’s real.”