PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh has a rich pro-wrestling heritage, from Bruno Sammartino to Kurt Angle and beyond.

The next in line could be a young star named DJ Z. He’s back in town for a show this weekend, but his rise was nearly derailed by medical problems that he now calls “a blessing.”

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The story of pro wrestler DJ Z is unconventional from the very start.

“My mom was working in a sweatshop in Singapore; she would do whatever it took. My dad ordered my mom out of a catalog, and my mom was a mail-order bride,” says DJ Z. “To me, it shows how brave my mom was and how bad she wanted to come to this country.”

He grew up in West Virginia’s northern panhandle and got his start in the ring in Pittsburgh at the age of 16. Wrestling took him around the world.

“Japan, Mexico, India, Scotland, Ireland, England, Singapore,” he says.

Taking him eventually to TNA Wrestling, which is the second biggest wrestling company in the United States. But last year, his road to stardom took an unexpected turn.

“One day I woke up with the worst stomachache imaginable. I thought I had food poisoning,” DJ Z says.

DJ Z’s appendix had a ruptured, but that’s not all.

“Even worse, they discovered I had a five centimeter tumor growing in my colon,” he says.

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It wasn’t cancer. But DJ Z couldn’t wrestle or work out for months. So, he turned his attention to another interest.

“I got into DJing. There was a DJ school near Washington DC, 10 minutes from where I was living. I signed up for the school, fell in love with it and I really honed my craft,” he says.

When he finally returned to the ring last November, his new passion was part of a new persona and attitude.

“I know how annoying it is in real life to people, so why not make it 10 times more annoying on television,” said DJ Z.

Now, DJ Z is bigger than ever. And looking back, he calls the medical issues he faced “a blessing.”

“In some ways, I feel like the time away and the new character kind of saved my career at TNA,” he says.

He’s hoping to one day be considered one of the wrestling greats from Pittsburgh.

DJ Z also holds a degree in advertising from West Virginia University.

He is back in town to be part of a show for the local promotion where he got his start. “IWC Caged Fury” is Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Court Time Sports Center in Elizabeth. Bell time is 7 p.m.

For more information, visit: iwcwrestling.com

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