Michael Murray is only 30, but he’s been through a lot. When he was 3, he developed severe asthma, which sometimes meant unscheduled trips to the hospital. The asthma went away at age 13, which was great, but then he was diagnosed with psoriasis, which was not so great. And ever since he was 15, he’s been thrown all over the place – in the wrestling ring.
Murray is a professional wrestler who goes by the name of Dewey Murray, “The Big Mutha Trucka” (his weight: “a full 18 wheels”). A native of Rochester, New York, he’s wrestled all over North America and in Japan. And up until 2017, he was wrestling even though he had plaque psoriasis that, as Murray puts it, “broke out in chunks or big splotches.”
For years before a match or before he worked out, he oiled his skin, usually using something with a cocoa butter base. He also trained with long sleeves on. Some wrestlers took one look at his skin and didn’t want to go near him, but most, he says, were professionals who came to wrestle, not discriminate.
“Everyone’s given a lemon at some point in life,” Murray says. “You just make the best of it.”
Murray has worked hard to make the best of it. He appears regularly on the indie wrestling circuits, which are similar to baseball’s minor leagues. Indie wrestlers compete to advance to the televised big leagues, such as World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now Impact Wrestling).
He teaches wrestling, and not just holds. “I teach a lot about trust and responsibility,” he says. “This profession is all about respect. There are a lot of life lessons here.”
The winning formula
Murray has also never given up on appropriately treating his psoriasis. The first two biologics he tried weren’t effective; they caused some adverse reactions and provided temporary relief at best. When he had flare-ups, he had to use his trucker gimmick to control what the crowd saw. “I could wear jeans,” he says. “If my elbows were bad, I could wrap bandanas around them. Plus, then I could sell souvenir bandanas at the merch table.”
In 2017, Murray’s doctor prescribed his third biologic, and this time everything fell into place.
“I haven’t had a flare, nothing, in a year and a half,” he says. “I actually took a vacation and I went swimming. I haven’t done that in awhile. I could put on swim trunks and not worry about what my legs, knees, arms, chest, sides and back looked like. I could just go swimming. I can wear dark colors. I can be normal, not cautious.”
Being clear has affected him at work, too. He has more energy – and no blood on his elbows. “Now my bandanas are just a look,” he says. “I’m not hiding anything anymore.”
He’s had no adverse reactions to his current biologic, except for what he calls his “sleepy day” – 48 hours after taking the shot, he’s “a zombie.” He always tries to schedule his shot for Mondays, because on Wednesdays he’s usually between events.
“I’m happy,” Murray says. “And I’m expanding.” In addition to wrestling, in the summer of 2018, Murray hosted the Backwoods Riot Music Festival in Andover, New York – six country and rap acts performing for 2,500 people. He also hosted an NPF fundraising dinner in New York City and is looking for other ways to get involved with NPF, spread awareness and educate others about psoriasis.
Murray has been through a lot, but he’s built for the long haul. In the Big Mutha Trucka, psoriasis has met its match.
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Photo: TMK Pro Wrestling Photography
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.