An Indonesian TV station has pulled several popular U.S. wrestling shows off the air amid allegations that a 9-year-old boy may have died while children he was playing with were imitating the moves of their muscle-bound heroes.
A police investigation into the death of Reza Fadillah is under way. Officials have so far declined to comment on their findings.
The Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. issued a statement saying it was “confident” its shows had nothing to do with the fatality.
By Wednesday, Lativi TV had pulled “SmackDown” and all other World Wrestling Entertainment programs off the air, following weeks of pressure from parents and educators who say the shows encouraged violent behavior in children, station spokeswoman Linda Rifai said.
Reza died Nov. 16 in the West Java city of Bandung, several weeks after three of his friends threw him to the ground and pinned him “’SmackDown’-style,” his father, Herman Suratman, said Thursday. He said the boy’s X-rays showed internal chest wounds.
“Let my son be the last victim,” he told The Associated Press. “This is a lesson, not only for Lativi and the government, but also for us parents to pay more attention to our children ... In this era of multimedia, bad influences can easily reach our boys and girls.”
The parents of a 4-year-old boy and at least eight other students have filed complaints saying their children also suffered injuries, from broken bones to vomiting blood, after practicing “SmackDown” moves.
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. described the parents’ account of Reza’s death as “incomplete” and “highly suspicious.”
“Although the death of any child is a tragedy, WWE is confident that the investigative conclusions will be that the death of this child had nothing to do with WWE programming,” the statement said.