Behind a desk at Town Hall in Greenburgh, Receiver of Taxes Dave Dwinell sits dressed in a suit and tie. His days are spent in front of a computer screen and defusing hostile phone calls from people who are late in paying their taxes.
Wrestling photos courtesy of New Northeast Wrestling
Dwinell has a second job, though, that adds excitement, even danger, to the mundane.
As a child, Dwinell said he used to wrestle with his brother on their front lawn. As a young man, he and his buddies would revel in the excitement of Monday night wrestling.
“I was always fascinated with the combination of sport and show with wrestling,” Dwinell noted. Over the course of many male-bonding Mondays, Dwinell, a husband and homeowner in Irvington, imagined the ideal second job. He found, applied for, and received a professional wrestling referee license.
Dwinell has donned the black and white stripes for more than 25 years. His first match, in December 1982 at the Cross County Center, was with a couple of wrestling pioneers. He shared the ring with The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz and Eddie Gilbert.
“I had no idea what to expect,” he said. “I thought it was going to be the first and last time I ever got to call a match.”
Far from his last, Dwinell now works with New Northeast Wrestling, one of the largest independent promoters of the sport. He has been a part of the NEW for over a decade. He commented that he is one of their senior referees, a little ironic considering he is a senior himself. The organization showed its appreciation for a class act referee when they awarded Dwinell a 25-year award. Last year he was inducted into their hall of fame.
“You have to be retired to be inducted, but [the NEW] felt that for the 13 years I had been with them, I was an important part of the organization, and they wanted to reward me for making the guys look good,” Dwinell commented. “I was in the first class to be inducted into the Northeast Hall of Fame, along with Kurt Adonis and Bam Bam Bigelow, the guy that wrestled Lawrence Taylor from the Giants.”
And although he is one of the older referees, Dwinell shared that he loves what he does and is not quite ready to give it up.
“One of the reasons I enjoy it is because it is so completely opposite from my normal everyday living,” he said. “It’s kind of like acting; you go out and become someone else.”
Dwinell worked with wrestlers like The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz, Andre the Giant, Captain Lou Albano, Bruno Sammartino, The Ultimate Warrior, George the Animal Steele, The Iron Sheik and Stone Cold, when he was with American Championship Wrestling.
One of his more memorable matches, Dwinell said, was one he wasn’t even refereeing.
“I worked with Hulk at the Garden. I went out when he was getting beat up by several people, and we put him on a stretcher,” he added, “and he jumped off the stretcher and hit me with his arm, and I flew over the barricade. I actually went over the barricade when he swung his arm.”
Dwinell has experienced his share of bruised ribs and swollen jaws and sore knees throughout his career. As a senior referee, casualties have dropped significantly, he said.
“They give me the older, slower matches now,” he explained. “I’m 60 years old, probably one of the oldest still working in the country. The promoter told the wrestlers to not throw me out of the ring as much anymore.”
Dwinell says collecting taxes and refereeing parallel each other in a certain way. Threats are received at both jobs, and he deals with hotheaded people in both jobs. Fans, wrestlers and delinquent tax payers . . . it is Dwinell’s job to keep a potentially nasty situation from breaking out. He commented, “Sometimes I think it’s more dangerous collecting taxes than it is refereeing wrestling.”