Most kids grow up watching wrestling in hopes of someday landing in the ring. Tony
Stevens wanted to be the ref. Referee, a job that is often vilified and criticized across sports, doesn’t seem
like dream job material, but for Stevens, it is a profession that is close to his heart, literally.
In 2006, less than a year into his career as a referee, then-20-year-old “Tony S.”
(as he likes to be called) retreated to the couch after a long match. The next thing he remembers is waking up in a
hospital room at Mass General Hospital in Boston. “I had gone into cardiac arrest and woke up five days later
in the hospital,” said Stevens, who learned he had an extra circuit in his heart which can cause an irregular heartbeat,
something that is almost impossible to catch and can be fatal if not fixed.
Now 23, Stevens has made a full recovery and considers himself lucky. Since his heart procedures,
the Worcester native is in the best shape of his life and has worked his way up as the head referee for the professional wrestling
organization Powerhouse Wrestling. Powerhouse is a Worcester-based company that hosts three live wrestling shows a year
at the Worcester Armory and produces a bi-weekly television show for Charter TV Channel 25. Stevens refs all the matches
and assists with production of the show and is the webmaster for Powerhouse’s website.
Stevens, who studied television and radio in college, says his true love lies in refereeing.
“It keeps me from being lazy,” he said. Training for endurance is at the top of his list, as Stevens can
ref up to 12 matches a night. In order to stay fit, he spends time jogging, walking, meditating and eating right.
And while he has never wrestled himself, Stevens has fought back a few times when incited by a disgruntled wrestler.
“I’m undefeated, 3 and 0,” he said.
Learning never stops for a referee. While Stevens likes to have other refs constructively
criticize his work, he has no control over fans who volunteer their unsolicited services. “We are trained to make
the difficult calls. We are not trained to be popular,” said Stevens. “If people yell at me, that’s
fine. I take it with a grain of salt. If you don’t like it, learn to referee so you can make that call.”
Whether he’s a fan favorite or not, Stevens has his sights set on the future.
While moving up in the field would be a welcomed opportunity, Stevens says just being in the business is good enough for him.
“You can’t rush it. It will come,” he said. “I just have to be patient and continue to
put my best foot forward.”
Powerhouse Wrestling will host its next live show in January 2010 at the Worcester Armory.
Log on to http://powerhousene.tripod.com/ for more details or visit Tony S.’s personal website at http://refereetonys.tripod.com.
Photo labeled “2″ is a action shot of him with “Kidd U.S.A”
Jay Jaillet vs. Nunzio at Powerhouse Wrestling on 1/24/2009.