Arm Wrestling’s Reigning King and Queen Flatten Mightiest Arm Warriors to Clinch NYC Big Apple Grapple Crowns

Event held aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum


Manhattan, March 19, 2005 - Arm wrestling pros across the US and worldwide assembled Saturday March 19th aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum to battle for the gold crown in this ascendant, crowd-pleasing sport. Tenacious champions exhibited a package of muscle, technique, wits and stamina in rapid-fire matches lasting from one second to a half minute.   Mamuka Pajishvili from the Republic of Georgia won the 225-pound class and the NYC King of Arms Title for the second time in three years, beating Super Heavyweight champion Tim Bresnan from Lisbon, CT. in the final match. Also entered for the ‘King’ title were Class Champions Bobby Buttafuoco and Christopher Myers. Behind Pajishvilli in the 225-pound class was Kevin Nelson from Holbrook, NY, taking second place, and Jack Pardo from Monroe, NY, was third. Defending champion Marcio Barboza did not compete.

Cynthia Yerby a Seminole State college counselor from Wolf, OK, captured the NYC Queen of Arms crown for the sixth straight year.  She pounded the competition in the Women’s Open Weight Class, beating Cindy Looney from Milford, CT, and Camille Burford from Manhattan who came in second and third.  Women’s Lightweight Champion Lauren Colantropo from Babylon, NY, challenged Yerby but, fell short for the ‘Queen’ title with a disappointing flash pin from Yerby.

Super Heavyweight Champ Tim Bresnan from Lisbon, CT, defeated the 300-pound Peter Milano from Stratford who came in second, and 350-pound Reggie Ward from Middletown placed third, as Connecticut’s cluster of stars swept the category. 

The day’s tensest battles were fought in the 200 lb. Light Heavyweight Class. 200 pound Christopher Myers from Whitestone, NY, slipped into the losers’ bracket early on, when teammate Steve Black also from Whitestone, NY, beat him in the second round.  With no losses, Alper Cosar from Woodbridge, Va. was clearly on his way to winning the title, when Chris Myers came back to tie it up with Cosar. Myers and Cosar battled with one last chance to remain supreme. Myers wins it! Cosar settled for second place and 2003 NYC Arm Wrestler of the Year Dan Sorrese from Deer Park, NY, was third.

In the 175 lb. Right-Hand Middleweight Class, the recent Empire State Champion Richard Calero from The Bronx beat the defending 2004 Big Apple Grapple champion Carlos Ferreira from Brazil in a tenacious battle to the finish, and multi-champion Pat Baffa from Whitestone, NY, was third.

In the 150 lb. Lightweight Class, Umit Kiyak from Brooklyn, competing for Team Turkey, took first place; second went to George Yashinski from Olyphant, PA; Mustafa Mursawgus from Virginia Beach, VA, competing for Turkey, was third.

Two left-handed men’s contests held surprises.  In the lighter weight class (175 lb.), Ron Kelemba from Portland, CT, beat last year’s defending champion Richard Calero from the Bronx; third place went to Jon Vinikoor from Richboro, PA.  In the Left-Hand Open Weight class, seven-time borough champion and former Empire State Champion Kevin Nelson from Holbrook, NY, beat the former Kingsboro Champion Dan Fortuna from Wading River, NY, who came in second, and Joseph Milano from Stratford, CT, was third.

There were two Masters categories for men over age 45+ and a Senior class for men over age 60. In the Masters, Kelemba, who had won the earlier left-handed contest, outdid himself by beating Milt Christmas from Baltimore who took second, and Harry Wilson from Brooklyn, NY, placing third, both of whom have been multi-category champions in past years.  The Masters Open Class went to last year’s defending champion and one-time NYC King of Arms Bobby Buttafuoco from Rockville Centre, NY; second place went to Russian star Alexander Pozdnyakov, and Jean Daigle from Bristol, CT. was third.  In the Senior Class, Jean Daigle beat defending champion Bob Columbe from Albany, NY.

In the other women’s contest, the Lightweight Class, two-time Borough champion Lauren Colantropo from Babylon, NY, beat Mirline Berrouet from South Ozone Park NY, a surprising strong beginner who placed second and Pennsylvania’s multi-champion Susan Fischer was third.

Team points was awarded for NYC Boroughs, States and Countrys which added to a top prize for Connecticut, with 37 points, second place went to Long Island, with 28 points, and there was a tie for third between Turkey and the Borough of Queens each with 11 points.

Gene Camp, founder and president of the 28-year old New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) said,  “ We were pleased and excited that the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum hosted the 2005 NYC Big Apple Grapple XXVIII Championships for the forth straight year and organizers were very happy with the participant and spectator turnout.”

 The NYAWA is planning The New York Golden Arm Series for the Spring to Fall 2005 season, This multi-event series culminates in the Empire State Championship Final at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in November.  The NYAWA will also host the NYC Junior, College and Sit-Down Championships and more. For information on upcoming events, pictures, results and membership, visit the NYAWA website at or call (718) 544-4592.


Link, Calero, Zlogzower, Ruggiero, Levine, Maldonado, also Win Titles as the Empire State's Strongest Arms.


Manhattan, NY. November 18, 2004 - - At arm wrestling's premier amateur event of the year, the White Castle 27th Empire State Tournament of Champions, Shaun Freeman, 23, from Maspeth, Queens, NY, displayed his trademark speed and physical dominance to overpower all contenders, even the mighty 290 pound, 6'5" Sean Ringgold AKA "The Rockaway Flash". Freeman is a Mercy College graduate and wants to pursue a career as an FBI agent. He was last year's Empire State Champion and was the favorite coming into the final after cornering three NYC borough championships this year. He captured the 2004 NYC "Arm Wrestler of the Year" awarded him by the series' host, the New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA). The previously unbeatable Ringgold pinned Freeman today in a preliminary match, but in the finals Freeman beat Ringgold to tie it up and then came back to win again, taking home the Empire State Super Heavyweight title for the second year in a row. Freeman was also crowned as the NYC's Strongest Arm MVP. Ringgold ended with second place and Bob Sasso of Schenectady, NY, was third.

In the Left-Handed open Super-Heavyweight class, Freeman ended up in second place, losing to the massive NY State Champion 6'4" John Ruggiero of Schenectady, NY. Third place went to last year's Left-Hand Empire State Champion, Kevin Nelson, of Holbrook, Long Island.

The day's continuous action, with tournament titles in eight weight classes throughout the afternoon, repeatedly excited the raucous fans and passersby's that numbered in the thousands throughout the days competition. The venue was the Port Authority Bus Terminal's North Wing/Main Concourse. Eighty contestants weighed in, including the first place winners of the 2004 New York "Golden Arm" Series. The seven events were held over the past months at venues throughout NYC, Long Island and Upstate NY. Plus, last year's Empire State Champions were back to defend their titles, in addition, to the walk-in contestants who entered from as far away as Russia.

The Russian contestant indeed walked on today, straight from Russia, where arm wrestling is an important, well-funded, organized sport. As a star back home, he even was followed by a Russian crew filming a movie, but Yonkers, NY, resident Charles Link, a tenacious and unbeaten fighter, overpowered the Russian in a tough match for the 200-lb. Heavyweight title, leaving the Russian, Alexander Pozdnyakov, with second place; Joseph Cruz from Shirley, LI, NY, placed third.

Link then challenged Super Heavyweight winner Freeman for the Strongest Arm MVP award but, came up short against the giant.

The Middleweights (175 lb.), who often display great agility and deftness, crowned personal trainer Richard Calero from The Bronx, an unbeaten star for the second straight year in a row. Calero is a captured First Place in both the right and left-handed title tournaments. For that feat he won the NYC "Arm-Star Award." Alex Josowitz of Brooklyn, NY, won second place, and Scott Latella, of Schenectady, was third in the right-handed class. Ben Dwyer of Esperance, NY, and 18-year-old Gabrial Yak of Flushing, NY, took respective second and third places in the left-handed classes.

In an upset tournament, Manhattan's Alex Zlogzower took top honors, besting Vardan Krpeyan of Dumont, NJ, last year's Empire State champion. Umit Kiyak of Turkey and now lives in Brooklyn, is a multi-borough champion in this year's Golden Arm Series. Kiyak slipped to third place today.

In the Women's open-weight class, the title and the MVP award went to Ines Maldonado of Rockaway, NY, who had placed second the 2004 'Queensboro'championship and 2nd in the Long Island Championships. A first-time ever competitor Karen Pickel of Ridgewood, Queens was a surprise second place winner and the 2004 'Manhattanboro' champion Emma Barnett of Manhattan, ended in third place. An injury occurred to the 2004 MVP and Long Island Scottish Games Champion Deborah Mischuch of Bayshore, LI. was injured and had to leave for medical attention.

The Master's Class for men age 45 years old and up, crowned Barry Levine, the year's Long Island champion and winner of the LI Scottish Games. He predominated over this year's 'Queensboro' champion and the 2002 Empire State Finals winner, Michael Degraffendreid who finished in second place and Bob Spieler of Brooklyn took third.

Based on the hometowns of all winners in today's tournaments, the Team title went to NYC's Borough of Queens, with 27 points; the Upstate NY team took second place honors with 19 points, and The Bronx took third place with 14 points.

White Castle sponsored all NYAWA 2004 events and the custom-designed awards for today's Final. WKTU-103.5 was also a proud sponsor of today's Final. "Today's tough-fought matches, very excited onlookers, and a few surprise winners all epitomize this lightening fast sport and also reflect the diverse field of arm wrestlers from all walks of life who compete -- those who practice hard all year, others who have natural talent and some with little or no experience at all," commented, Gene Camp, founder and president of the NYAWA, which has nurtured the sport over the passed 27 years.

On March 26, 2005, the NYAWA will present the 28th Annual NYC Big Apple Grapple, An ALL PRO International arm-wrestling Championship event at The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. This spectacular event will feature today's winners, last years pro defending champions and NYC's King and Queen of Arms. Year round, the NYAWA hosts weekly practices throughout NYC. Its website,, features this year's results, with photos and stories, and offers membership and sponsorship information.

Interviews with today's Final winners and photos may be obtained by contacting
Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592 or E-mail ###

This is a first time ever written article by Gabriel Yak on his views of the ‘KINGSBORO’ CHAMPIONSHIPS (unedited)



By: Gabriel Yak

This Time 'The Rockaway Flash' Emerges King at the 'Kingsboro' Championships

Sean Ringgold, a.k.a the 'Rockaway Flash" became the 'Kingsboro Flash' on June 6th, 2004's Kingsboro Championship sponsored by White Castle Hamburgers. The three-time 'Queensboro' champion and 2002 Empire State Champion took home the gold once again. He is known for his vastness and stupendous ability to fiercly pulverize an opponent in an instant. The competition did not look to be a fluke, as Ringgold had his hands full, being challenged by some of the best 'pound for pound' up and coming armwrestlers in the state looking to dismantle him. In the end 'The Rockaway Flash' prevailed as the Arm-Star award winner, flashing all of his opponents instantaneously.
In the first round of the right-handed super-heavyweight class "The man of the hour", Sean Ringgold from queens, took on the two-time National Champion Roy Ramsland from Huntington Station and defeated him with a sudden impact..
Newcomer Frank Kisha went up against Junior Armwrestling titleholder Arjun Nagpal, with Nagpal diving in with a quick shoulder-roll, pinning him to the pad.
Joe Milano the 199 & up 2003 CT State Champion, a.k.a. 'Big Daddy' from CT, defeated the striking newcomer William Corona with a half-hook.
Round two saw a long battle with Milano and multi-time borough champion Chris Perka, Perka defeating him with a partial top-roll.
In the losers bracket it was Milano defeating Corona, eliminating him.
Meanwhile, it was 18 year old Arjun Nagpal squaring it off one-on-one for the first time with Joe Milano, as the match was a 'battle of the top-roll. As the match went on it resulted in a re-grip in the straps due to a slip, which then incured an elbow foul on the part of Nagpal forcing the referees to tighten the straps. After a brief battle 'Milano came off with the victory.
It was Ringgold making quick work in the field eliminating Nagpal and Milano, with Milano taking home with third place.
Both undefeated Sean Ringgold and Chris Perka ventured into the winners bracket resulting with Ringgold driving Perka simultaneously to the pad.
Ringgold vs. Perka ll, the rematch is on. Ringgold held off Perka's arm, to then flash him to the pad, leaving Perka with second and capturing the Super-heavyweight title.

The left-handed Super-heavyweight class had commenced with Ringgold going up against Perka, as Perka held his tuck; Ringgold stunned him to the pad reguardlessly.
The next match was Roy Ramsland and William Corona, with an elbow fowl by Corona in their struggle causing a re-start. Corona looked to have the match, as he was inches away from defeating Ramsland. As the crowd starts to cheer for Ramsland "Common pops!", with Ramsland fighting his way back eventually disassembled Corona for the win.
At the Coney Island Fair, the crowd was on their feet, it was Arjun Nagpal vs. Joe 'Big Daddy' Milano. Before the match started, Nagpal and Milano kept gripping it out for their favored grips, resulting in a ref's grip. Nagpal gets Milano up top ending up, with a slip by both competitors. In result of this Nagpal and Milano were forced to go in the straps. As Nagpal went up top, confusing Milano, reversed into a shoulder-roll for the win.
As Ramsland made his way up in the losers bracket he ran into a stumbling block, Chris Perka. With a brief battle the match ended up in a slip, resulting in the staps. Ramsland tried to hit inside and was devasted with Perka countering with a top-roll.
The finals consisted of Perka and Milano, Perka winning with a top-roll, eliminating Milano.
Originating in the winners bracket was Ringgold and Nagpal going at it, with ringgold disfashioning the third place winner Arjun Nagpal instantly.
Commencing the last round, Ringgold defeated Perka, winning the left-handed Super-heavyweight title and Arm Star Award for the 5th time. The 'Flash Pin', Sean Ringgold is becoming a transcendant figure in the world of armwrestling, surpassing his opponent’s dual-handedly and remaining undefeated in the amateur ranks. The question remains, "Who's next?",  as the armwrestling prodigy seeks to scourge all-comers at the 'Queensboro' Championships on August 15, 2004.

Introducing the first round of the 200-pound Heavyweight class was prodigious newcomer Vlao Diary from Brooklyn and Frank Kisha from Elmhurst, Vlao Diary winning by a hook.
Next were 18 year old William Corona vs the 2002 Empire State Featherweight Champion, 18 year old Gabriel Yak. As the competitors fought for their favorite grips, the match started off with a brief battle. Corona with a show of strength, eventually loses to Yak.
Ramsland, going up against Diary for the first time, wins with a top-roll.
Starting off the next round would be Corona and Kisha, with the loser out. With a long battle Corona wins the match.
In the winners bracket it was Yak vs Ramsland. An elbow foul by Yak caused a restart in the match. The next match started off with the competitors fighting for their favored grips, which, resulted in a ref's grip. After a long battle, Ramsland conquered Yak and won.
Ending off in this round would be Corona vs Diary, Diary coming off with the win.
The finals are set, it was Yak going up against Diary, and loser takes third place. Yak defeats Diary instantly in a hook, according to Gene Camp NYAWA President, "Yak shows a winning determination."
Finally, it was Yak vs Ramsland, Ramsland who looked to be the innovator of vivid impression, to decide who the 'Kingsboro' Heavyweight Champion would be. Yak looked to have Ramsland inches from the pad, as Ramsland comes back to no avail ending in a slip. Originating the next match, they were set up in a hook, their battle ended up in a slip once again. Match #3 was a strap match. Ramsland took Yak's hand away, causing Yak to armwrestle with a flopped wrist. Yak looked to have Ramsland milimeters from the pad, with a long battle; Ramsland demolished Yak for the Heavyweight Championship. After the match Ramsland tells Yak, "I hate armwrestling you."

Introducing the 175 pound Middleweight class, looking to have decisive favorites as Alex Josowitz and Shaun Velasquez. Alex Josowitz, student of multi-time World Champion Vephkia Samkhardze, is a Staten Island Boro Champion and Junior Champion. Shaun Velasquez, a multi-time boro champion and Junior Armwrestling titleholder. As Arjun Nagpal and Shaun Velasquez, among others, are students of multi-time World Champion Mike Selearis.
The class started off with newcomer Alex Barak gripping up with Donald Relmond, who was favored to win. After a battle to the death, Barak came out of nowhere and pulled an upset against Relmond, who was favored to win according to NYAWA President Gene Camp.
Next would be unexampled Fredrick Andre up with an inexorable Michael Bye, Bye himself a 'Manhattenboro' Champion. It was a long fight, which looked as if Bye had it won but Andre turned the tides and upsetted Bye with a surpising comeback.
Containing the winner’s bracket would be a match between the futures of armwrestling, Alex Josowitz vs Shaun Velasquez. Josowitz, known for his superior top-roll, attempted to use his lethal weapon to burry Velasquez down to the pad but Velaquez turning Josowitz into a hook for the win. After the match the armwrestlers were interviewed on 'B-CAT TV' as Velasquez captured his first win over Josowitz. Josowitz said, "He surprised me, his wrist got stronger." Velasquez responding, "He's strong, I look forward to pulling him again."
Up next would be Andre against the "favored to win" Josowitz. The competitors fought for grips but ended up in a referee's grip. On the "Go!" Josowitz beat Andre instantly by way of top-roll.
For the first time its Velasquez and Barak, Velasquez being favored to win, won with a half-hook.
Josowitz fighting his way up the losers bracket, defeats Barak in the finals, leaving Barak with third place.
In the finals it's Josowitz vs Velasquez in a rematch. Josowitz took a different approach in armwrestling Velasquez, this time Josowitz attacked with side pressure but ended up in a slip. In the straps Velasquez devastatingly hooks into Josowitz's top-roll, defeating him to become the new 'Kingsboro' Middleweight Champion.

Yak vs Ramsland, contesting with eachother once again, this time for the left-handed 175 pound Middleweight Championship. Ramsland, who has shown to be the man with the rigoris comebacks had to face the man who he hated armwrestling once again. The "grip-fighters" went at eachother once again, match#1 concluded with a slip. Match #2 Yak pinned Ramsland to the pad, only to be called on an elbow foul. In Match #3, the competitors were set up in the straps, with the match going back and forth once again. Ultimately, Ramsland pinned Yak for the win once again.
Michael Bye made his way up the winners bracket, eliminating competitors such as Bob Spieler, Martin Vlek, and Stallin Varsciano. Michael Bye, on his winning streak was defeated by Yak, and eventually eliminated by Ramsland.
Josowitz who lost to Velasquez in the right-handed Middleweight class, was reversed when he eliminated Velasquez left-handed.
In the finals, Josowitz went up the ramp facing it off with Yak. Yak beating Josowitz in a hook, leaving Josowitz with third.
Ramsland defeated Josowitz and Yak in the finals, leaving Yak with second and securing the 175-pound Middleweight Championship for himself.

The 150 pound Lightweight class contained experienced competitors as Gabriel Yak  and Bob Spieler, which either man was favored to win. Spieler, according to Yak has shown "major improvement', proving himself to be a warrior.
Newcomer Stallin Philopiensiano from Elmhurst faced Spieler for the first time. Spieler staying behind his tuck, drove Philopiensiano to the pad.
Peter Corodez was put in a 'battle of the newbies' with Martin Vlek from Corona and the winner was Corodez.
The loser’s bracket contained Valisciano and Martin Vlek, the winner was Martin Vlek with a quick pin.
The winners bracket looked to have the favored Bob Spieler over Corodez, which Spieler eliminating Corodez.
In the finals it was Vlek to face it off with Yak. Yak defeated Vlek with a quick hook, Vlek taking home third.
In the winners bracket it looked like a toss-up between Yak and Spieler. The match started off with Spieler stopping Yak, concluding with Yak defeating Spieler.
The rematch is here, and the title is on the line. Yak vs Spieler, with the match resulting in Yak triumphant victory as he pinned Spieler and being crowned as the new 'Kingsboro' Lightweight Champion.

The Womans Championship weight class looked to have no decisive favorites as it was Aidah Muhammad from Brooklyn, Gina Refano from Staten Island, Megan Bo from MA, and Diana "The Nutt-cracker"  Mielnik.
To start off the round is Aidah Muhammad vs Diana Mielnik, Mielnik smoothly pinning  Muhammad for the win.
Next would be Megano Bo going one-on-one with Gina Refano, after a brief battle Refano won
the final. Mielnik looked to make quick work of Refano and Muhammad. Mielnik.  Refano took third place and lMuhammad second place. Diana Mielnik took home the Womans 'Kingboro' Championship and was awarded the days Female MVP Award Winner.

The Professional 175 pound Middleweight class looked to have some of the best breakout superstars as all the competitors in this weight class proved themselves to have a "Never Say Die" attitude in the competition. Competitors such as Aliakberov Djasur, Andrew Kendall, Harry Wilson, and Roy Ramsland were the features of the class that made this competition out to be what it was. Djasur from Uzbekistan was perceived for his threatening posture and menacing power. Djasur, one of the best armwrestlers in Russia, won the forth place at the 'International Challenge" of 2002 in Rochefort Belguim. Andrew Kendall, multi time borough champion, two-times MVP Award winner of the Junior Armwrestling Championship was a runner up in the 2003 Empire State Middleweight Championship. Harry Wilson, 2001 Armwrestler of the Year, a experienced seventeen time borough champion and former Empire State Champion. Roy Ramsland is a two-time National Masters Champion and proved himself at the White Castle 'Kingsboro' Championships, entering into four weight classes.
Round #1 started off with Djasur vs Ramsland. With a grip-battle between the two, they finally went into grips they were satisfied in. On the "Go!", Djasur looked to wither Ramsland. With their match at length, the competitors ended up with a slip, forcing them to battle it out in the straps. Djasur and Ramsland position themselves behind their arms to start their second match as the crowd watches these athletes setting up. Djasur looked to have Ramsland beat until 'The Rockaway Flash' Sean Ringgold started yelling, "Common Pops!” getting the crowd to cheer for Ramsland. As the crowd yelled "Common pops!", Ramsland was progressing in the match. With the crowd getting into the action, Ramsland goes under, making a devastating comeback to defeat Djasur.
The next match would be an encounter between opposing forces, a match between two combatants. Wilson combatting Kendall, a student of the days referee, Mike Selearis. During the match Wilson looked to have the winning position at his side but ended up in a slip with Kendall opposing vigorously, making a comeback. At the start of the next match Wilson looked to be stopped by Kendall, a struggly in the match between the two. Kendall armwrestling with a flopped wrist ended up slipping back-to-back, finding themselves in the straps for their third match. Prior to the third match, Wilson had shown Kendall a new found respect for his performance. The warriors went head-to-head, eye-to-eye, and man-to-man to get ready to go at it in the straps. In the strap match, Wilson hit Kendall with full backpressure, showing experience counts as he secured the win for himself.
After the match Wilson was interviewed on 'B-CAT TV', inviting referee Mike Selearis to join him.
Round #2 started off with Kendall colliding with Djasur for the first time.Djasur showing his unrelenting ambition, eliminated Kendall with a rapid top-roll to the pad.
Prior the second match of this round Wilson and Ramsland fought it out for their desired grips, ending up in a referee's grip. Both opponents had a long fight in their matches, both men overcoming one anothers power with matches going up to a minute or more, ending up in a slip.
Initially, the next match would be in the straps. With a long battle, Ramsland goes under trying to pin Wilson to no avail. Ramsland looked to have Wilson a half an inch beat but Wilson made a comeback.. As the two ravaged eachother, Ramsland pulled back and tried to hit Wilson with side pressure. As Ramsland put his shoulder into it, their gruesome match turns into '"The Match of the Day", as both competitors slip in the straps for the first time in NYAWA's history.
With a thirty second break, would be match #2 in the straps. Wilson looked to have learned from the first strap match as he kept his shoulder behind his arm, using his backpressure and tendon power. Their long fight looked to be becoming a tradition between the two with both men going back in forth, making awing comebacks. Both men, at different times looked to have the match won but at the conclusion Wilson was the man to triumph from this 'Battle of wits'.
In the finals Wilson and Ramsland looked to grow weary, as they both seemed to be wounded in battle. It looked like Djasur was there to pick up the peices as he vanquished both Ramsland and Wilson in a rapid manner by side and backpressure. Ramsland was named the Male MVP Award winner of the day, as he had success in the four weight classes he entered into. Ramsland left home with third place. Harry Wilson not diminishing in his will to win placed second at the tournament. The man who conquered the 175-pound Professional Middleweight Championship is none other than Aliakberov Djasur from Uzbekistan, Russia. Aliakberov Djasur, with unwavering firmness looked to have unforgiving power, made an impact in the NYAWA.

Lightning flashes three times in one place

Rockaway Flash three-peats at White Castle ‘Queensboro’Championships


Senior news editor

Sean Ringgold strolled into the White Castle ‘Queensboro’ Arm Wrestling Championship a heavy favorite to win his third straight title. Coming off an emphatic double-armed victory at the Empire State Finals, Ringgold was back in Rockaway, familiar territory. He was home and ready to defend his turf.

Standing in his path would be Shaun Freeman, the Maspeth, NY native whose arm has become as powerful as his crushing grip.

Yet, while Freeman looked to be Ringgold’s biggest threat, it was a middleweight from the Bronx that gave Ringgold a wake up call in the first round of the open left-handed class.

At 175 pounds and ripped to shreds, Richie Calero’s bodybuilder type physique is a rarity in the world of competitive arm wrestling. Despite his build, Calero was dwarfed by the Rockaway Flash, who stands over 6’5” and weighs nearly 280 pounds.

But setting up strong and tall, Calero’s grip and backpressure left Ringgold scratching his head. The referee’s set the two men up in the middle of the table and with an explosive hit, Calero drove the Rockaway Flash away from his shoulder to secure a quick win. Doing so, he established himself as the new man to beat left handed.

Ringgold complained to referee Mike Selearis that he was not ready prior to the ‘go’ but it was to no avail.

Calero’s status as the man to beat would not last long. Kevin Nelson from Holtsville, Long Island went into his match with Calero having made extraordinary strides over the last year. Setting up it was easy to see that Nelson felt comfortable inside Calero’s hand, which is significantly smaller.

From the start, Calero looked to control the match, however, turning Nelson into a hook on his side of the table. Nelson held strong inside, and a Calero elbow foul forced a restart. On the second start, both pullers hit hard up top trying to gain hand control. Both elbows came up forcing a double foul giving Nelson the win.

Meanwhile Ringgold defeated Arjun Nagpal and Patrick Baffa to work his way up through the losers’ bracket.

In round four, Freeman and Nelson squared off. At the referee’s cadence, both competitors hit ferociously up top, slipping and forcing a restart inside. This time Nelson would elbow foul trying to roll out of Freeman’s hook. Start three saw Freeman driving straight through Nelson for the win. Freeman was the last man standing on the ‘A’ side of the bracket.

Nelson and Calero would have a rematch to see who would fight it out with Ringgold since Ringgold was given the bye. Since both had been experiencing elbow foul trouble during their last match, the start of the second match seemed slightly subdued. Up top, they slipped grips and would be restarted. A parallel pin in the middle of the table put Calero in the finals and sent Nelson packing with fourth place.

The rematch between Calero and Ringgold saw the Rockaway Flash getting as high on Calero’s hand as he possibly could. The two fought for a grip separating several times before they could finally agree on hand position. This time, Ringgold was prepared for the start and drove hard and fast straight across for the win.

“I wasn’t ready when they started the (first) match but truthfully that match got me focused,” Ringgold said. “It let me know that I had to be on time and be ready when the ref is ready to go. He got me that one time, but I took care of him after that.”

Calero said his victory over Ringgold in round one was great though he did regret not finishing him off the second time around.

“It definitely boosted my confidence for me to get him off the go,” Calero said. “But after going against him again and getting beat – well I guess it was better beating him one time than no times at all. Come October, hopefully I’ll be better. I look forward to pulling him again,” Calero added.

Calero said his second match came down to his own indecisiveness.

“He posted up really well and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to go inside or outside,” Calero said.

Ringgold’s most daunting task would be to defeat Freeman twice as he had been unchallenged up to that point. Unable to agree on a grip, Selearis would set their hands. Prior to the start however, Ringgold would slide his finger up and was called for a foul. Even with one foul and one loss, Ringgold decided to be the aggressor from the ‘go.’

Freeman caught Ringgold inside and a dogfight of a hook match ensued. After some struggle, Freeman was called for an elbow foul as he displaced it trying to gain position. From the next start, both competitors would find themselves in the same spot, driving inside trying to gain position. Ringgold’s hand came clear from the peg for a good two seconds but the foul was not called. After readjusting, Ringgold would manage to drive straight across to secure the pin and the left-handed title.

The Rockaway Flash would have to defeat a similar cast of characters if he wanted to defend his right-handed title. Thrown into the mix would be Kristian Gelencser, the muscle-bound College Point, NY native with a powerful shoulder roll.

Gelencser would be pitted against Baffa in round one. The 150-pound seven-time borough champ would prove that he could hold his own in the supers. In the end, it would be Gelencser’s hand, not his arm that would be the difference.

Off the go, Baffa tried to pull Gelencser out of his power but lost his hand completely in the process. Baffa drove without his hand and slipped. On the restart, Gelencser would keep Baffa’s hand and drove him to the pad for the win.

The following match pitted Freeman and Nelson against one another. The two super-heavies hit hard up top slipping. In a hook, Nelson held strong but when Freeman shifted his weight back and fell on it, Nelson followed, falling into the losers’ bracket.

Ringgold was given a bye and drew the 17-year-old Nagpal in the following round quickly defeating him inside after a slip.

Meanwhile, Freeman disposed of Gelencser inside earning a crack at Ringgold.

Gelencser would dispose of Nagpal guaranteeing himself a spot in the finals. To earn a slot in the final four, Nelson and Baffa would square off.

At the ‘go,’ Nelson and Baffa hit hard up top, slipping and sending both pullers off balance. Restarted in a hook, Nelson looked to gain position, Baffa’s elbow came off the pad and referee Frank Malis called a foul. But the match kept going even though it appeared as though Nelson let up slightly. Baffa would gain inside position and drive Nelson to the pad. He was awarded with a very controversial win and would await the loser of the grudge match between Freeman and Ringgold.

Ringgold jumped the ‘go’ at the first start and was fouled. Ringgold was fast inside on the second start earning the win and the Arm Star Award, given to the competitor that wins a borough title with both arms.

Following the tournament, Ringgold said training with members of the city’s professional team has made the difference.

“I’ve just been practicing with Gene Camp and a lot of the other arm wrestlers like Mike Selearis,” Ringgold said. “Those guys have given me a lot of good techniques to practice. Even though I don’t follow the circuit I still try to pay close attention to those guys when they give me advice and follow what they teach me.”

Freeman said his loses to Ringgold let him down slightly but also will serve as motivation for him to work harder.

“I’m disappointed,” Freeman said. “I really thought I could take him. But I have to give him credit. He’s strong.”

Ringgold was not the only one vying for an Arm Star Award. Veteran puller Harry Wilson from Brooklyn would have to fight through two extremely large middleweight classes to pull off the feat. Wilson, 41, came into the tournament a 17-time borough champ.

Aged just 17 years, Alex Josowitz of Brooklyn has become quite a rival for Wilson as of late. Thrown into the mix was Anthony Navaretta of Syosset, NY, who had been getting the better of Wilson recently.

Right handed, Wilson survived all the way up the ‘A’ side after outlasting Navaretta in their first match.

Navaretta would have to pull Josowitz for another shot at Wilson. Earlier in the tournament, Josowitz almost hit Wilson straight to the pad but Wilson was able to exploit Josowitz’ weakness, turning him inside and dragging him over in a hook for the pin.

Josowitz almost hit Navaretta to the pad off the ‘go’ as well but much like Wilson, Navaretta was able to turn him inside and pull him over for a shot at the title.

Navaretta surprised Wilson in match one, sucking him into a hook on his side of the table and exploding across for the win. Wilson would regroup, however, in the second match of the finals. With an elbow foul on Navaretta, Wilson was able to turn him in and fall on it. He was too much inside and held on for the middleweight title.

Left handed, Josowitz would seek revenge. Joined in the finals by William Baona, whose powerful tricep move had baffled opponents en route to the finals, Josowitz would use his explosive hit and superior side pressure in the straps to earn a rematch with Wilson.

After smoking Wilson in match one, Josowitz would come to understand how crafty the veteran could be. Wilson switched strategies and decided to abandon his hook move for top pressure. Wilson gained hand control off the start but Josowitz managed to slip setting up a strap match. In the straps, Josowitz attempted to drive without his hand and Wilson was able to use the strap to pull back and straight-wrist Josowitz to the pad.

Wilson would go home with an Arm Star Award of his own and a newfound respect for his young rivals.

“Josowitz and Navaretta were both tough opponents,” Wilson said. “In the finals after those loses I knew I had to recuperate. To tell you the truth, I really thought Navaretta was going to beat me again.”

Wilson’s normal class, the lightweight class, saw another old familiar face. Silverio Espinal of Brooklyn made his return and would be tested by the up and coming Shaun Velazquez of Maspeth, NY. Velazquez lost early on to Espinal after a long hook match but returned in the finals after handily defeating third place finisher Christopher Dupars of Hackensack, NJ.

Velazquez would once again try to outlast Espinal. Hitting Espinal into a losing position, Velazquez looked to have the advantage inside. But once again, Espinal wore his younger opponent down and would drive him across the table for the lightweight championship. Following the tournament, Velazquez said he would likely change his approach to pulling Espinal if he had a rematch.

“I was trying to hit him over and tire him out,” Velazquez said. “It wasn’t working. He has a lot of endurance. If I had a chance to pull him again I would probably pull him with a lot of back pressure rather than just in a hook.”

The featherweight class came down to a showdown between two hometown favorites, Luis Carrero and Gerard Thomas, both of Rockaway. Early on, Thomas lost to Andrew Castellaneta of Massapequa, NY but came back to defeat him in the finals. Carrero would be too much for him however as he nonchalantly side pressured Thomas to the pad for the featherweight title.

The women’s open weight class was also defined by a dominant performance. Daniala Pigari of Sumo Village, NJ top-rolled through the competition with ease. Taking second and third place were Rosa Diaz of the Bronx and Dora Fedroso of Rockaway Park, NY.

Calero, whose strong showing left-handed paled in comparison to the display of brute force he exhibited in the right-handed heavyweight class. Pulling up a weight class, Calero flashed pinned all comers including last year’s Empire State Champion in the 45+ years old masters’ class, Mike Degraffenreid.

Degraffenreid managed to take home second place after coming back to defeat Wilfredo Velez in the finals after Velez beat him early on. Velez took third.

ABC-TV- Sports and the Discovery Channel covered the tournament, sponsored by White Castle Hamburgers. The network was on the scene filming a documentary on the sport of Arm Wrestling in New York and the New York Arm Wrestling Association, which will be aired in the fall. ###

A star is born

Newcomer slams through her class and upsets last year’s M.V.P.

Senior news editor

No one was surprised.

Even when Camille Burford of Manhattan, NY had been unchallenged up through the finals, no one was surprised.

As Clair Huntington of Brooklyn, NY and Rhadessa Goings of East Norwalk, Conn. locked up to determine who would have a shot at her, Burford looked confident that she would win the women's middleweight class at the 21st Annual Kingsboro Golden Arm Series Championships on the boardwalk at Coney Island.

Though Huntington would blast straight through Goings, locking up with Burford would be a different match altogether. Burford went through her like lightning, but still, no one was surprised.
Last year, women's open champion and M.V.P. Erin Stellman of Long Island City, NY dominated all comers. So no one was surprised July 12 when she toyed with every women's open puller that stood across from her.

It certainly appeared as though Burford's winning streak would come up against a wall in the women's overall competition.


With a tow-load of back pressure and a burst straight across, Burford, who is under 135 pounds went through Stellman to claim the women's overall and M.V.P. award.
A neophyte to the sport, Burford said she new she had a knack for armwrestling as she also had a knack for soccer, softball and a host of other sports, but she never thought about pulling at a tournament.

"I have always - just like - armwrestled with my brothers but I never thought about going to a tournament to see how good I was," Burford said. "This is something I definitely want to get involved in. I love it. I can't believe how much fun it is."

Burford will no doubt be a favorite to win the Empire State Finals on November 13, 2003 at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

Another surprise Saturday was the return of Angel Cosme right handed. Cosme, of Manhattan, has made a name for himself with his left arm, becoming a mainstay in the 175-pound class in the New York Golden Arm Series. With a very effective right hook, Cosme made his presence known in the right-handed middleweight class as well.

With newcomer Alex Josowitz and Harry Wilson, both of Brooklyn, NY as well as 'Blue Thunder' Dan White of Staten Island in the class it looked as though it would be no walk in the park for Cosme.

Drawing Josowitz in round one, Cosme unveiled his secret weapon, sucking the 17-year-old up and comer into a hook and driving him to the pad for the win.

Both winning early on, Wilson and White would meet up for the first time in the winners bracket engaging in their usual dogfight inside. Wilson, who was slow turning White in, could not manage to hit White past his shoulder. White stayed behind it and eventually scored the pin and a shot at Cosme who was going through all comers like a wrecking ball.

Cosme's powerful load took White out of his tuck, forcing him to switch game plans and try to bail underneath. But with a burst of side pressure, Cosme drove White straight across putting himself in the finals unchallenged.

Wilson fought his way through the losers' bracket, beating Vic Spadaro inside and Andrew Kendall. White beat Spedaro turning him quickly into a hook, setting up a finals rematch between White and Wilson.
In one of the best matches of the day, Wilson fired first, hitting White up and in. White caught the hit but his left hand slipped high off of the peg eliminating his three points of contact and forcing the referee to call a foul.

The restart was very similar, however, Wilson managed to get White into a losing position this time. Driving down in a deep hook, Wilson's elbow came off the pad. And though he was given a warning, he could not correct his position midstream and was given a foul. On start number three, Wilson again gained inside position but once again slipped his elbow off the back of the pad and fouled out, taking home third place.

"I know I fouled out," Wilson said, following the tournament. "I was careless - bottom line - Dan White was just too strong."

White's rematch with Cosme went much like their first as Cosme opened him up and hit him straight across for the win and the title.

Cosme was also a late entry in the super-heavyweight class left-handed. To win an Arm Star award, he would have to face Josowitz, who won the Staten Island championship as well as Arjun Nagpal of Elmhurst in the finals.

Defeating Josowitz early and dominating up through the winners bracket, Cosme put himself in position to await the winner of the match between Nagpal and Josowitz.
Josowitz voluntarily went up top with Nagpal and lost hand control, Nagpal earned the pin and a second shot at Cosme.

The two went into a ref's grip after spending more than a minute battling for hand position. Off of the start, Nagpal drove up top but fouled off of the back of the pad. On the restart, Cosme curled his wrist in hitting straight across and held on for the pin and the Arm Star.

Though Cosme dominated his weight class, left and right handed, it looked like he would have a tough time fighting off the hook of Kristian Gelencser, the College Point, NY resident and Bronxboro heavyweight champ.

Gelencser drove through opponent after opponent up until his first match with the young but promising Nagpal.

Nagpal managed to roll out Gelencser's wrist but could not pin him. Rather than showing poise on the table, Nagpal kept pumping resulting in an elbow foul. On the restart, Gelencser forced Nagpal inside and drove him quickly to the pad for the win. Nagpal would not get a second shot at Gelencser.

Though Raymond DiPillo, of Manhattan, had lost quickly inside to Gelencser, he was winning hook match after hook match into the finals. DiPillo would have to battle Tim Sharpe for a second time to get a second crack at Gelencser. Defeating Sharpe inside was not enough however, as once again Gelencser flashed him to the pad inside setting up an overall match for M.V.P. against Cosme.

What unfolded was the match of the day.

With an explosive hit, Cosme caught Gelencser off guard, backing Gelencser out of his normal shoulder roll. Forced into a drag hook, Gelencser could not manage to pull Cosme back to his side of the table. Gelencser's left hand slipped off of the peg and he received a foul.

On the restart, again, both pullers ended up inside. Cosme drove hard but opened up, as did Gelenscer. Usually when two pullers are opened up in a hook that is at a stalemate in the center of the table, one of the pullers will either end up on top, getting a parallel pin, or an elbow foul will occur.

Cosme was the first to foul and the match would have to be restarted though Gelenscer looked to have better position. On the third start, Gelenscer managed to get his shoulder behind the pull and drove Cosme to the pad, winning the M.V.P.

Cosme was still happy with the way he pulled.

"I felt great today," Cosme said. "I was on fire. On that second start against Kristian (Gelencser) I thought I had him, but I opened up too much. I'll get him next time."

Dispelling rumors that he looks more like a heavyweight than a middleweight, Cosme said: "for the record, I am 175 pounds."

Cosme's cousin Anthony Gutierrez has always had an impressive left arm but could never manage to beat his cousin Angel.

But with Cosme winning the supers left, it seemed the stage was set for Gutierrez to claim a Kingsboro championship.

Early on Gutierrez, 19, would have some trouble. A young but tough Andrew Kendall would be Gutierrez' first true test.

After a slip, the two were restarted in a hook where Gutierrez looked to be vulnerable. Kendall exploited Gutierrez' weakness slicing inside for the pin sending Gutierrez to the B-side.

But Gutierrez would make a run, all the way to the finals.

He beat Joe Maresch, Frank Keishner and a rematch with Andrew Kendall defeating him fast in a top roll. In the finals, he quickly defeated Devin Worrell of Corona, NY.

White, who was unchallenged through the finals would only have to beat Gutierrez once for the title. Easier said than done.

Gutierrez twice rolled White out and laid on for the pin winning the title. Following the tournament, Gutierrez spoke of his triumph.

"Against White I knew I didn't want to end up in a hook after I lost to Kendall so I decided to stay outside and top roll him," Gutierrez said.

His next test in armwrestling would be his cousin.

"I'll beat Angel one day," Gutierrez said. "When he's in a wheel chair."

Cosme said he was happy with his young cousin's table sense and poise during his battle to win the left handed class.

"He did good," Cosme said. "He stayed close to his arm, he usually opens up a little bit like me but he kept a good tuck and it showed."

Gutierrez said he was uncertain if he would be around for the Empire State Finals because he will be attending Salem University in West Virginia this fall.

White, who was up in weight class, said he was not disappointed with his performance taking two second places.

"I think I am doing good with both arms right now," White said. "I need to armwrestle better with both arms to have a good balance."

White said his next tournament would be the Unified National Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas in early August.

White normally pulls in the lightweight class, which he won at the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® in the spring.

At Coney Island an up and coming Shaun Valazquez of Maspeth, NY made his return to the Golden Arm Series after a short hiatus to vie for the lightweight class.

His stiffest competition would come from Jack Spadaro who joined him in the finals along with Mike Leon, both of Brooklyn, NY. Leon bowed out before his match in the finals with Spedaro. Shaking off the rust, Valazquez once again trounced through Spadaro inside taking the lightweight title.

Hubert Santos of Jackson Heights, NY looked strong in the featherweight class keeping a tight tuck throughout the tournament and defeating the favorite Worrell in the finals inside. Faysto Hesedia of Elmhurst, NY took third place.

In the women's featherweight class, Hannah Haas of the Bronx, NY beat out Gabiela Deanda of Brooklyn. Deanda went through Robin Phillips in the match before but fouled out against Haas as she put herself in a break-arm position on the losing side of the table.

The team championship went to Queens who beat out the Manhattan and Brooklyn teams respectively. The tournament was sponsored by The Astella Development Corporation of Brooklyn and the City of New York Parks and Recreation. 'The Kingsboro' Championships received media coverage from UPN-9 TV News, NY-1 NEWS and BCAT-TV SPORTS TALK

‘A Bronx Tale’

Calero and Freeman, who train in the Bronx, dominate at Orchard Beach

Senior News Editor

“This is my house,” Richard Calero said Saturday prior to the 20th Annual Bronxboro Championship.

The 29-year-old middleweight armwrestler was not being brash. Those who know Calero know he carries himself with a sense of decorum both on and off the table. But the Bronx native knew he would have to be confident to pull out two hotly contested weight classes on the main stage that sat smoldering on the pavement abutting Orchard Beach.

Calero, who may have the best left-arm in the state in his weight class still had to prove his worth to Manhattan’s Angel Cosme. Cosme, a big 175-pounder had never lost to Calero in a competition before.

Also in the running was a budding Eddie Riotte of Durham, Conn. as well as the Hall brothers, Jason and Michael that made a splash last year at the event. Michael Hall won the lightweight class last year, while his brother Jason was in contention in two loaded middleweight classes left and right handed until the final rounds.

Hall drew Cosme early on and was put in the losers’ bracket as Cosme caught him and threw him across the table in a hook for the win. Calero flash pinned Riotte, whose hook and top-roll have progressed quickly in the last few months.

Cosme drew Jason Hall in the winners’ bracket in round two and once again played catch. After corralling Hall’s hit inside, Cosme rolled him to the pad for the win.

Meanwhile, Riotte found himself in a long hook match with Michael Hall. After a fairly long inside pull, Riotte managed to back Hall out with his lat and then rolled him out for the win.

Riotte would survive through the losers’ bracket and make it to the finals where Cosme and Calero had remained unbeaten. In their first match, Calero shocked everyone as his hit Cosme hard into a shoulder roll and almost got the pin off of the ‘go.’ Cosme was able to catch the hit but could not back Calero out and Calero held on for the pin.

Cosme would have to beat Riotte to get another shot at Calero. Prior to the ‘go,’ Riotte was loading up with a ton of backpressure but was losing his wrist. With enough knuckles-up strength, he might have been able to roll Cosme out, but Cosme won the battle up top slowly rolling Riotte out for the win. Riotte took third.

The rematch between Calero and Cosme may have been more of a shocker than their first match. With a resounding, “I have arrived,” Calero flashed Cosme into a shoulder roll and secured the Bronxboro championship, making him the frontrunner for the Empire State Title later this fall.

“That is a real strong move for him,” said Cosme of Calero’s shoulder roll following the tournament. “I can tell he has been training a lot because his technique has gotten so much better.”

After the win, Calero jumped off the stage and gave his father a hug. It was the first time his father had ever come to a competition to see him pull.

“I was so nervous when I saw I would have to go up against Angel (Cosme),” Calero said. “He has dominated me in the past but I had faith that I could do it. Winning this in front of my dad made it so much better. It was more special.”

Though Calero won his second straight left-handed middleweight Bronxboro Championship, he would have his work cut out for him to win his first right-handed. Last year, Tony Kaiser dominated the weight class, flashing through all comers. This year, standing in his way would be the young star Alex Josowitz and veteran Harry Wilson, both of Brooklyn, NY.

Josowitz burst onto the scene in February when he won some convincing matches at the Tune-up held in Elmhurst. Josowitz’ top pressure has increased considerably in the past few months and he was ready to break it out on Wilson in round one. From the start, Wilson was much too late trying to turn Josowitz inside and was flashed.

Calero drew a bye in the first round, but would dispose of Jason Hall in the second round as Josowitz quickly beat Riotte.

In the following round, Calero broke through Josowitz’ wrist chopping him into a shoulder roll for the pin.

As Calero cruised through the winners’ bracket right handed, Josowitz made it to the finals where Wilson awaited him. Wilson, who is typically dedicated to his inside move, decided to employ a top roll against Josowitz. The first time the two set up, Wilson hit him straight to the pad but was called for an elbow foul. Off the restart, it appeared as though Wilson jumped the ‘go,’ but he managed to roll Josowitz out handing him third place.

Following the match, Wilson had nothing but good words for Josowitz.

“He’s gotten good, excellent,” Wilson said. “He is real fast too, I can’t catch him. The ref’s gave me a good start on the second match.”

Josowitz agreed.

“I feel like I should have pulled out that second match,” Josowitz said. “But the ref just started without me.”

Wilson knew he would have to defeat his old friend and rival Calero twice to be crowned champion. However, with a much-improved inside game, Calero drove right into Wilson’s forearm and pinned him for the title and the Arm Star Award given to the puller who wins the title with both arms.

Seldom are there two Arm Star Awards given out at the same tournament but making the attempt on Saturday would be Joe Milano of Stratford, Conn. and Shaun Freeman of Maspeth, NY, who trains at Calero’s house in the Bronx on Tuesdays.

Accompanying the two in the super-heavyweight right-handed weight class would be 6-time Bronxboro Champ Luis Diaz. Early on, Freeman made his presence known, taking advantage of Diaz’ wrist and hitting him to the pad fast up top.

Meanwhile Milano popped over Zepf Alia early on setting up a match in the winners’ bracket with Freeman. Freeman used his superior hand and wrist strength to roll Milano to the pad securing a spot in the finals.

Too stay in contention, Alia and Diaz would pull for a crack at Milano. Off the go, Alia gained hand control, but Diaz slipped and the two decided to set up in a hook. On the restart, Diaz was too much inside but would have his work cut out for him if he wanted a seventh title in his home borough.

In the finals, Milano came out with a vengeance. His explosive hit flopped Diaz’ wrist but Diaz pushed behind it in a tricep and managed to slip. Referee and double-armed national champion Mike Selearis decided to put the two in the straps to determine who would move on.

Though it looked like Milano left early on the ‘go’ he managed to drive Diaz straight over for the win and a chance to redeem himself against Freeman.

“I think Luis Diaz - if he worked out on his wrist – could be a tough competitor in this sport,” Milano said following their match. “He has a very strong hook, but since his wrist flopped over I gave him a hard time.”

Milano added that his strap technique came from someone he would only refer to as “the left-handed Pennsylvania State Champ.”

During the final match, it was plain to see that both competitors would be going up top. Off of a running start, Freeman looked to have the hand advantage but Milano slipped just past center. In the straps, Milano looked perfect prior to the start with his strap low around his wrist. From the start, however, Milano did not have enough post pressure to open Freeman up. He stopped Freeman about four inches from the pad and held but Freeman was able to wear Milano out and drive him to the pad for super-heavyweight title.

Left-handed Freeman would find himself in the finals with Milano and Joe Maresch of Bronxville, NY.

Milano, a natural lefty was hungry…for a shot at Freeman left-handed that is. First, Milano would have to pull Maresch and would slowly roll him to the pad for the victory. Against Freeman, Milano would once again test his top pressure but Freeman had too much for him.

Milano beat Maresch once again and would change tactics with Freeman the second time around. This time, he would try to turn Freeman inside from the start. With a burst of side pressure, Freeman put Milano almost to the pad when Milano managed to turn into a hook. It was too late as Freeman held on for the pin and the Arm Star sweep.

“In the finals I intentionally slipped because I thought I had a better chance with Shaun (Freeman) in the straps,” said Milano, who anchored Team Connecticut helping the squad win the team points championship. “I stopped his hit, but he had too much side pressure. He was the only thing stopping me in both weight classes today.”

Following the tournament, Diaz was so impressed with Calero and Freeman that he decided to become a new member of the Bronx team.

“I have never really trained for this sport,” Diaz said. “I have never really lifted any weights; I’m just naturally strong. I have no transportation to train out in Whitestone, so I am going to start pulling in the Bronx with Shaun Freeman and Richie Calero. I am going to get strong and then I am going to test out how far I have come at the Columbus Avenue Street Festival tournament.”

With the super-heavyweight Arm Star Award, Freeman was poised to win the M.V.P. as well. Waiting in the wings would be Kristian Gelencser of College Point, NY. Gelencser was at one time a mainstay in the 175-pound class, but has beefed up since his last tournament, nearly two years ago.

Gelenscer flashed through everyone in his weight class including Julio Rosario of the Bronx and Riotte a natural middleweight that managed to take third in the heavyweight class. Though Rosario was too much inside for Riotte, Gelenscer was far too much for Rosario, giving him the heavyweight championship.

Freeman flashed through Gelenscer in the overall, however, winning the M.V.P. He said Joe Milano was his most formidable opponent of the day.

“I have to say that my toughest match today was against Joey (Milano) in the straps,” Freeman said. “In the straps I remember thinking back pressure, post from the wrist.”

Freeman said he never imagined winning an Arm Star and M.V.P. in the same tournament but said it was a great feeling.

“I never thought I would ever do anything like this in the sport,” Freeman said. “But I did and it feels good.”

The lightweight finals featured three newcomers that look to have a great deal of potential. John Kagan, a Yale student living in New Haven, Conn. looked to be the man to beat early though Vardan Krpeyan of Dumont, NJ and Andrey Martyanou of Bensalem, PA were equally impressive.

Kagan and Martyanou would meet in the middle rounds and battle through a long hook match that saw Martyanou come out on top. Both would find themselves in the finals with Krpeyan who defeated Muhammed Azam, a strong inside puller in his own right.

In the finals, Krpeyan dove in on Kagan and, though Kagan stopped him, he could not manage to drag him across the table. Kagan took third. Krpeyan pumped and secured the pin and a shot at first place. In the final match, Krpeyan would hit Martyanou the same way and laid back into a drag hook for the pin and the title.

In the featherweight finals, last year’s champ Floyd Ryder of Bristol, Conn. was accompanied by 16-year-old Andrew Castellaneta of Massapequa, NY and John Cruz of the Bronx. In their first match, Ryder kept a very tight tuck and managed to roll Cruz to the pad for the win.

Cruz quickly defeated Castellaneta, but bowed out in the finals setting up a championship match between Ryder and Castellaneta. Ryder quickly defeated Castellaneta to take home his second straight 132-pound title. Ryder, who took third at Empire States last year, should be the frontrunner for the title this year based on his performance.

It was a repeat performance for both Cindy Looney and Carrie Wilson of Milford, Conn. Much like last year, the two would once again take first and second at the Bronxboro. Carol Varga of the Bronx rounded out the women’s open weight class taking third after two hotly contested battles with Wilson. Though Wilson did manage to force Looney into the straps in their first match, in match two it was all Looney.

In the lightweight class, Rouzanna Brownell and Araksya Kovsepeyan of Dumont, NJ took first and second as Jennifer Griffith of the Bronx rounded out the weight class taking third.

In the women’s overall, Looney quickly disposed of Brownell, taking home the women’s M.V.P.

As a result, Connecticut scored 26 points and the team championship. Queens took home 21 points behind Freeman’s performance and the Bronx took home 18 points thanks to Calero. The event was sponsored by the City of New York Parks and Recreation.


Milano reigns in the rain!


With only a handful of armwrestlers deciding to brave the elements on a damp, dark and rainy Sunday afternoon at the beach, two rising stars did shine brightly at the Staten Island Borough championships June 1. And as fate would have it both met up in the overall to decide whose gun was at the top.

Joe Legasse, 32, of Providence, RI won his first title at the International Armwrestling Federation’s Connecticut Fall Classic last October winning the lightweight novice class despite giving away 25 pounds to most of the competition.

On Sunday, Legasse was the favorite with only two other competitors in his class. With veteran Bob Spieler of Brooklyn and first timer Nathan Valle of Brightwaters, NY in the class, Legasse said he thought about pulling the middleweight class as well.

That class was headlined by last year’s lightweight Empire State Champ Dan ‘Blue Thunder’ White, a Staten Island resident and Brooklyn vet Harry Wilson, keeper of numerous Borough and Empire State titles.

Since Legasse declined on pulling the middleweight class, he would have to win the lightweights to get a crack at White, the man he admittedly came to pull.

Legasse drew a bye in the first round getting a look at his competition. Valle, the newcomer, looked tough in the first round hitting Spieler with hard wrist curl pressure and driving straight across toward the pin pad. Spieler caught Valle’s hit and tried to back him out using lat-pressure but ended up opening up his arm in the process. Valle kept driving into a hook and parallel-pinned Spieler, earning the rookie a crack at Legasse.

Legasse, who trains at the veritable Mecca of lightweight armwrestling gripping up with legends of the sport like Gabe Accardi, Norm Devio, Mike Shalhoub and Tim Sears, blistered through Valle. Valle could not match Legasse’s backpressure, and when he caught Legasse inside it was too late. Legasse pumped hard once and secured an easy victory.

Valle defeated Spieler again in what looked like a carbon copy of their first match, only this time Spieler elbow fouled trying to drag hook. Legasse again breezed through the final match hitting Valle fast and hard up top and securing the Staten Island title.

Legasse would await the winner of the middleweight class in the overall and White looked to be that man early on. Standing in his way would be Wilson and up and comer Alex Josowitz of Brooklyn.

Josowitz made his presence known early on defeating Ed Riotte of Durham, CT. fast in a top roll in the first round. Wasting no time, Wilson and White were pitted against each other in match two with what would prove to be a war of a hook match.

Both competitors turned inside before the ‘go’ with Wilson looking like he had control early on. Wilson kept his tuck and had White on his side of the table appearing as though he was just a split second from a victory, but White swung his left leg around and drove his shoulder behind the pull, stopping Wilson and pressing him to the pad for the win.

To earn a spot in the finals, Wilson would have to pull Riotte. Off the go, both competitors hit up top and slipped putting them in the straps. Both pullers fought for hand position with Wilson coming high over Riotte’s thumb knuckle. Once the grips were finally set, Wilson flash-pinned Riotte eliminating him and putting himself in the finals to await the loser of the match between White and Josowitz.

Josowitz loaded up with a ton of backpressure prior to the go telegraphing his hit up top against White. With superior wrist pressure, White turned Josowitz inside and secured a fast pin.

In the finals, Wilson made quick work of Josowitz causing him to elbow foul and slip in a losing position with a powerful hit up top. Josowitz took home third.

In the final match Wilson decided to turn to his full-hand top roll, a move that he seldom pulls out of his back of tricks but an effective move nonetheless. The hit caused both competitors to slip and in the straps, White owned Wilson, turning him in and diving to the pad for an inside pin and the middleweight championship.

White says he feels stronger than ever and says he is going to the Unified National Championships in Arkansas this August to try and win the national title at 154 pounds.

“I think I’ve improved,” White said following the tournament. “Right now I am working hard so I can be ready for August to try and qualify for Team U.S.A.”

The stage was set for Legasse and White to meet in the overall. The match would decide who would be the odds on favorite to win the 150-pound lightweight class at the Empire State Championships on November 13, 2003.

But first, the heavyweight and super-heavyweight classes had to be decided.

The strange but effective pulling style of Mitchell D’Onofrio was showcased in this class that featured Riotte, who was pulling up in weight and Aaron Cox of Holley, NY. D’Onofrio, of Saratoga, NY went unchallenged in the finals where he would face the winner of Riotte and Cox.

Both competitors hit inside off the go, as Cox drove into a shoulder roll. He pumped, gave a little rolling pressure, let out a loud grunt and secured the pin, eliminating Riotte and putting himself in the final match where he would have to face D’Onofrio. With seemingly no knuckles-up wrist pressure, D’Onofrio still managed to roll out Cox fairly quickly, easily securing the heavyweight title.

The man of the hour, however, was Peter Milano, a 28-year-old resident of Waterbury, CT.

Milano, who just came off winning the heavyweight overall at the Pennsylvania State Championships in April and the super-heavyweight class at the Delaware Valley Championships breezed through the competition, which included last year’s runner up at the Staten Island Championships Jason Otto of Rochester, NY and Milano’s younger brother Joey, a 19-year-old up and comer from Stratford, CT.

Milano drew Otto in the first round and asserted his dominance by hitting him slowly but surely back and straight across for a nonchalant pin.

Otto did regroup, however, fighting his way back to the finals where he was accompanied by the two Milano boys.

In the first Milano v. Milano match-up, Peter peeled Joey open, took his hand and rolled him slowly to the pad. He gave Joey the second match, however, putting himself in a position to pull his younger brother for a third time.

Joey had to pull Otto first, however, to determine who would get a shot at Peter. With an explosive hit off the go, Joey flashed Otto up top, setting up a brother-to-brother grudge match for all the marbles (well at least half of them).

With ease, Peter again defeated Joey; a natural lefty who would seek vengeance against his brother with the left hand, which Peter affectionately calls “the peg hand.”

The right-handed overall pitted Legasse and White against each other for the first time. With a powerful hit inside and a strong hook, Legasse won his first overall match with relative ease, asserting himself as the odds-on favorite to win the Empire State Championships at 150 pounds and giving him a shot at the overall.

Legasse said he was hesitant to commit to an inside match with White prior to the ‘go.’

“I felt strong up top until I pulled Dan (White),” Legasse said. “I know he has a strong hook so I tried to go up but his wrist was too strong. I just ended up inside.”

Legasse said he wanted to save some arm for his next tournament, which was the following Saturday in Laconia, NH.

With the elder Milano quickly and gracefully defeating D’Onofrio with an overwhelming top roll, it would be David versus Goliath in the right-handed overall match. Milano took it easy on Legasse taking him up top for the win and giving himself the MVP award as well as a shot at the Arm-Star Award, delved out to the puller who wins his weight class with both arms.

Peter Milano, who uses an unorthodox style left handed that he says he honed in practice with a puller he would only refer to as the left-handed Pennsylvania State Champ, brought his opposite arm to the party on Sunday.

D’Onofrio would not get a crack at Pete Milano with the left arm because it was obvious that he had his hands full with young Joey Milano.

D’Onofrio and Joey were pitted against each other in the first round with Joey flash pinning him up top.

Meanwhile, Peter Milano hit Otto hard up top putting the two Milano boys in the winners’ bracket together. While Joey looked strong up top off the go, Peter kept hard top pressure, popping Joey’s wrist out of socket and giving him his first loss left-handed.

Joey would once again have to pull Otto, who defeated D’Onofrio to come out of the losers’ bracket earning a spot in the finals. With a gimp wrist, Joey still hit Otto up top and after a brief struggle, controlled his hand. As he was driving Otto across the table, Joey made his move, which caused Otto to slip underneath. Referee Marty Soven called Otto for a slip in a losing position and Joey was awarded another crack at his brother.

Opting not to re-injure his wrist, Joey bagged the final match, giving it to his older brother. Taking the title, Peter Milano won his first Arm-Star Award. And though he would be a favorite in the Empire State Finals, Milano is unsure as to whether or not he will pull at the event.

“I was waiting for last year’s champ Eric Russell to show up today,” Milano said. “I hear he has been ducking me,” he added jokingly. The two pullers, who are actually good friends that used to train together pulled at the Pennsylvania States, with Milano coming out victorious.

Milano took his overall victory with a grain of salt.

“I truly feel that the caliber of pullers that usually come to these New York tournaments did not show up today,” Milano said. “New York has a lot more to offer as far as armwrestlers go.”

The younger Milano remained undaunted.

“All I have to say is that I want a rematch with Peter Milano left-handed,” Joey Milano said following the tournament. “For such a small turnout, the competition was fierce today,” he added.

In the lightweight left handed class, Josowitz lost his first match to Valle putting himself in the losers’ bracket right away. And with Riotte defeating Valle in a long hook match in round two, it looked as though Riotte was the frontrunner for the left-handed title.

Josowitz made a veteran move after watching the match between Riotte and Valle. Knowing that Valle was a hook puller, Josowitz changed his set up on the table, deciding to go with top roll in the finals. With a fast hit, Josowitz popped Valle over near the pad and laid on it. With a pump and a second hit, Josowitz secured the pin, putting him in the championships with Riotte.

To claim the title, Josowitz would have to beat Riotte twice as Riotte was unchallenged up until that point. Surprisingly, Josowitz flash pinned Riotte up top in the first match and duplicated his effort in the second match to climb out of the losers’ bracket and claim the left-handed title.


Warriors lay down their arms to crown arm-wrestling royalty

By James Retarides

It was a great day to be at sea as the first hints of spring permeated throughout the city. As Coalition troops were sailing toward Iraq, their comrades were flying the flags at one of New York’s most intriguing venues.

Arm wrestlers from all corners of the world, the U.S., Brazil, Germany and the Republic of Georgia won significant battles by putting down there arms at the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXVI on March 22, 2003.

The battleship Intrepid, converted to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum played a role, once again in a war to decide the best of the best, and on that day it was Mamuka Pajishvili , eventually awarded the NYC King of Arms title after defeating all comers right handed.

The man who gave him his toughest match was undoubtedly Chris Myers of Whitestone, NY. whose Goodyear-Jamaica Tire and Auto Center cosponsored the event with Title Sponsor Nutro Natural Choice dog and cat food.

The two would meet twice vying for the championship in the New York Arm Wrestling Associations newly adopted 225-pound weight class.

With impressive wins over amateur sit-down champ Chris Perka and Empire State champ Dan Sorresse, John Boutinas (AKA John the Greek) fought his way into the finals with Myers and Pajishvilli.

Pajishvilli handed Boutinas his first loss in a strange match earlier in the tournament. Both competitors did not seem to hear the go, but as they realized the match started, Pajishvilli went through Boutinas with an extremely fast top-roll. Beating Myers quite handily early on as well, Pajishvilli waltzed his way into the final match.

In the finals, Myers hit Boutinas in a tricep off the go; putting himself in a position he has become quite comfortable in as of late…in the straps. Myers loaded up, eyes closed, as the referees brought their hands around to start the match. With a devastating hit, Myers reopened his eyes but slammed the door shut on Boutinas, crashing into and through his forearm. Boutinas went home with a hard earned third place. Boutinas, who took a six-year hiatus from arm wrestling looked impressive in his return, Myers would say later.

Meanwhile, Pajishvilli and Myers hooked up for the second time, but this time Myers put up a dogfight. Once again Myers would slip underneath and looked to have Pajishvilli concerned over their looming strap match. Myers exploded inside on the restart pushing down on the strap from his wrist in a tricep. Pajishvilli rolled hard, but gained no ground. Then he pumped and peeled Myers over but Myers stopped him once again. Once last hit secured the pin for Pajishvilli and the heavyweight title.

As dominant as Pajishvilli was right-handed, he looked equally impressive in the left-handed super-heavyweight class. Pajishvilli was on a roll, flash pinning left-handed powerhouse John Ruggiero of upstate New York and the up and coming Baysider Ed Safarian. He was a man amongst boys it seemed, that is, until he ran up against a wall named Mike Selearis, who seemed to relish his role as the underdog.

Pajishvilli appeared to be puzzled by Selearis’ hand prior to the start. The two could not seem to agree on a grip. When the refs finally brought their hands around for the start, Selearis flashed Pajishvilli up top, putting the man from Elmhurst on the fast track to the finals.

Acting as a roadblock to Pajishvilli would be Tim Brown of New Hampshire. Brown lost early on to the hard wrist curl pressure of Selearis, but fought back to final four despite being the smallest of the competitors in the left super-heavies at roughly 185 pounds.

Brown showed exactly how far his left had come with an impressive win over German champ Dirk Schenker. Schenker’s hit looked to be too much from the start of the match, however Brown controlled his hand and the two would slip grips after a brief finger pull. In the straps, Brown owned Schenker with his hard posting pressure, flashing him off the go. But to earn at least a third place plaque, Brown would have to defeat Pajishvilli.

Brown looked confident going to the table with his usual set up, but as he was still finding a comfortable load, the referees brought the hands around and said “ready go.” Prior to the go, Brown said he was not ready, but the refs started the match and Brown was forced to take fourth place home with him on his four-hour drive back to New Hampshire.

Pajishvilli once again found himself on the table with Ruggiero, who won the Canadian-American Championships left handed earlier that month. Ruggiero loaded up hard on Pajishvilli, who refused to match his backpressure. The referees finally convinced Pajishvilli to give a 50-percent load and started the match with results similar to their first meeting. Pajishvilli was just too much up top.

However Pajishvilli had learned from his earlier match with Selearis that he did not have quite enough up top to win the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® . So he decided to change tactics with Selearis.

Much like during the first match, the two competitors fought hard to get their grips and ended up in a ref’s grip. Referee Dan Fortuna of Wading River, NY gave Pajishvilli a foul after he moved his fingers in a ref’s grip. Twice afterward, Pajishvilli again repositioned his hand in a referee’s grip to gain more leverage but no foul was called. Off the go, the competitors slipped ending up in the straps.

In the straps, Pajishvilli fell across the table toward the pad quickly at the start of the match. The only problem was that his hand, as well as Selearis and his entire arm remained at the middle of the table. With his elbow hanging off the table for some time, the referees let the pull go on. Selearis stayed at the center, showing veteran poise, waiting for his opening. As he drove, his elbow came off for a moment and, ironically, Selearis was called for an elbow foul.

Fortuna did redeem himself however when the match was restarted for the fourth time. Once again Pajishvilli opened up from the start, but with his elbow visibly off the back of the pad Fortuna called the foul, and Selearis was crowned left-handed champ. Following the competition, Selearis was also awarded with the NYAWA’s Armwrestler of the Year trophy.

To be awarded the Arm Star Award as well, Selearis would have to emerge victorious from a right-handed 200lb heavyweight class that included the legendary Ray Darling and the explosive veteran Mike Ondrovic.

Ondrovic made his presence known early on as he defeated Ricardo Moreira of the Brazilian National Team with a quick hit in the straps.

Darling would get an early dose of Selearis, as he managed to catch Selearis in a hook, but could only hold on for a few seconds.

Ondrovic would not get his first loss until he came up against Selearis either. Slipping on the start, Selearis would own Ondrovic in the straps and Ondrovic would have to fight it out with Darling to decide who would get another crack at Selearis.

Darling went with his strength against Ondrovic and it paid off as he turned him inside off the go. Ondrovic, known for his fast hit, got off to a slow start but held Darling for a while in a losing position. Eventually Darling would secure the pin, having to take on what would prove to be his toughest obstacle… Mike Selearis.

The final match was a carbon copy of the first, with Darling turning Selearis inside, and Selearis getting the pin and the championship.

Darling had to settle for second in the open class, but in the masters’ class, Darling reigned supreme. Joining him in the finals were two Connecticut pullers, Ron Klemba of Portland and Jean Daigle of Bristol.

Though Klemba was slow getting started in their first meeting, he managed to flash Daigle twice. Against Darling, Klemba’s biggest attribute was his speed as he twice tried shoulder-roll Darling. Darling caught each attempt and managed to open Klemba up and roll him to the pad for the masters’ championship.

Klemba was perhaps more impressive left handed as he beat a fired up Peter Brown, younger sibling of Tim Brown, and 175lb Empire State Champ Richard Calero of the Bronx.

In what would prove to be one of the better matches of the day, Klemba fought long and hard with Steve Black of Whitestone, NY. Klemba controlled Black’s hand early on with Black folding underneath in a tricep. After some struggle, they slipped grips and were set up in the straps. 

The crafty veteran Black was too much in the straps as he kept a bent wrist and drove Klemba to the pad for the win. But the two would meet again.

Meanwhile, Georgian native and Rego Park, NY mainstay, Georgie Gelashvilli won with ease through the lightweight left handed class. Gelashvilli, whose workout regimen is legendary, breezed through Patrick Baffa, Calero and Black.

Klemba fought through another war with Calero and defeated Baffa to take a slot in the finals along with Black and Gelashvilli. But to earn a crack at Georgie, Klemba would first have to seek retribution against Black.

In the finals, Black once again proved too strong in the straps for Klemba after a long match. Licking his chops, waiting for Black, with a fresh left arm was Gelashvilli. Black caught Gelashvilli’s hit inside, only to absorb another big pump from Gelashvilli who came away with the left handed title. To win an Arm Star Award, Gelashvilli would have to duplicate his feat right handed.

And he would, going unchallenged in the 175lb middleweight class. But the story of the day in that class may have been Harry Wilson, the Brooklyn native that missed making the lightweight class by just a few pounds. Wilson went with a higher grip and more knuckles-up pressure than usual, diving into a hook rather than just turning inside. It made all of the difference.

With a win against his best friend and rival Richard Calero, Wilson then found himself in the straps with Black. Wilson flopped Black over in the straps putting Black into a position he usually finds comfortable, pushing with his tricep. But Wilson held him off, driving Black below the pad for the win and enough momentum to find himself in the finals with Gelashvilli and Baffa.

Baffa made his way into the final three by eliminating Richard Calero and Peter Brown who looked to be on top of his game.

Baffa and Wilson slipped on the start putting them in the straps. Neither being textbook strap pullers, they both decided to turn inside from the start and Wilson simply outlasted him getting the pin and a match with Gelashvilli.

Georgie was simply head and shoulders above the rest however, as he smoked Wilson inside. Wilson took a well-deserved second place plaque back to his home in Brooklyn.

Another Georgie has been raising quite a stir on the New York armwrestling scene. His name: Georgie Bregvadze, a Corona, NY resident who is also a native of the Georgian Republic.

Bregvadze burst on the scene earlier this year winning the Tune-Up for the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® back in February.

But the right-handed super-heavyweight class was stacked with great competitors, such as Dirk Schenker, Paul Walther and John Ruggiero.

Ruggiero fell to Bregvadze early on and so did Mike Libretto, as Bregvadze used his strong hook and deceptively strong hand to take a slot in the finals. Schenker, who had controlled everyone’s hand, except for Walther’s, accompanied Bregvadze. And Walther who seemed dominant all day rounded out the field.

Since Walther beat Schenker in the straps fast in the opening rounds and flashed Bregvadze just prior to the finals, the German and Georgian pullers would have to pull each other to determine who would go on. Schenker took Bregvadze’s hand from the start and laid on it. Everything else followed, and Schenker would move on to face an undefeated Paul Walther. In the final match, Schenker hit Walther hard and put everything he had behind the pull. The competitors slipped grips and Walther stayed on stage awaiting a second strap match with Schenker. But Schenker never answered the bell, apparently suffering a wrist injury as he and Walther slipped. He bowed out and Walther took home the gold.

“He has a strong hand and wrist,” said Walther of his earlier match with Schenker following the tournament. “But by going into the strap I eliminated his hand and wrist.”

The lightweight class was also light in competitors, boasting just four. As usual, Dan “Blue Thunder” White of Staten Island came out on top with a dominant performance. He outclassed Anthony Navaretta of Syosset twice, though Navaretta did flash pin the competition. In third place was Steve Lewis of Vorhees, NJ who defeated Patrick Uhm of Manhattan for third place.

Though he was the obvious favorite as a lightweight, “Blue Thunder” ran into a cold front when he was pitted against Ray Darling in the overall. Darling smoked White inside and awaited the winner of the Selearis/Gelashvilli match-up. Selearis and Gelashvilli would slip off the go, ending up in the straps. The referees kept insisting that Selearis straighten his wrist prior to start. Gelashvilli took advantage of a slower, seemingly less powerful Selearis, turning him into a hook and securing the biggest win of his young career.

Following the tournament, Selearis said he might have exerted too much energy in the final match with Pajishvilli left-handed.

“That match drew everything out of me in the left-handed class,” Selearis said. “My whole body came down and felt terrible after that match.”

The man Selearis beat for the light-heavyweight championship right handed seemed to be all fired up for Gelashvilli.

In the straps, after a Ray Darling elbow foul, Gelashvilli staved Darling off inside, hooking his way into the final match where he would face the winner of Walther vs. Pajishvilli. Pajishvilli shocked those in attendance with a flash pin over Paul Walther who has beaten many of the best this sport has to offer. Following the tournament, Walther said he should have stuck with his original game plan.

“Against (Pajishvilli) I tried to change the technique I’d been using all day,” Walther said. “And it didn’t work. That is the way it goes in this sport sometimes though I guess. But he is a great armwrestler.”

Two Georgian pullers, Gelashvilli and Pajishvilli would battle to determine the King of Arms, and once again Pajishvilli was just too much. His fast hit up top secured the overall and alerted the armwrestling contingent of America of his presence.

Meanwhile some great puller sat in the crowd and admired. Among those in attendance were Marcio Barbosa, Vepkia Samkhardze, and Bobby Buttafucco. Once can only wonder if their presence in the tournament would have made a difference in the outcome of who would be crowned King of Arms.

In the women’s classes, Susan Fisher of Fairhills, PA was too much for Jacky Richmond of Syosset, NY and Debbie Newport of Wethersfield, CT in the 120lb weight class.

At 135lbs, the young star Amanda Fortuna of Wading River, NY outclassed Margaret Nelson of Sayville, NY and Linda Sottile of East Meadow, NY.

Successfully defending her crown as NYC’s Queen of Arms for the forth straight year, Cynthia Yerby captured the women’s open weight class with ease. Yerby is also a seven time world champion. She beat out Empire State Champion Dina Fortuna who took a controversial second place over last years Bronxboro Champion Cindy Looney of Milford, CT.

Though Fortuna flashed her in the first round, the competitors ended up in the strap in the finals. Looney popped Fortuna over and appeared to have a victory holding her beneath the pad. Referee Frank Malis was heard telling Referee Bob Columbe that Looney secured a pin, but Columbe did not call match. After a foul, the match was restarted and Fortuna secured a fast pin.

Elmhust tune up gets engines revving for the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXVI


It was the calm before the storm.

The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) held its first tournament of the year just a few days prior to one of the biggest blizzards ever to hit the I-95 corridor. The tournament had the same feel; it was the build-up to next month’s NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXVI, which will take place March 22 at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan.

Though many familiar faces to New York Arm Wrestling were present at the Good Times Tavern Tune-Up in Elmhurst, NY, it was two newcomers that perhaps made the biggest splash. Giorgi Bregvadze, a Corona, Queens resident formerly of the Georgian Republic and Jim McCann of Port Jefferson, NY came in green to the scene but left with awards while leaving a huge impression on those who attended.

Bregvadze entered both the left and right handed super-heavyweight classes, which were each stacked with borough, junior and Empire State champions.

Dan Sorrese from West Islip, Shaun Freeman from Maspeth, Arjun Nagpal from Elmhurst, Kevin Nelson from Holbrook and Krysztof Perka from Ridgewood were among the many local top guns that Bregvadze would have to face. But Bregvadze was up to the challenge.

Freeman would be his first test in the left-handed open class. Both competitors employed a high grip before the go as referees Mike Selearis a school teacher from Elmhurst and Peter Milano from Ct. set them up for the start. A quick slip up top sent the two competitors into a hook, but again they opted to test each other’s top pressure. Again the two slipped as they fought for hand position.

Selearis then instructed the two competitors to start in a deep hook, and Bregvadze made a statement, handily driving Freeman to the pad for the win.

It did not get any easier for Bregvadze right handed as he drew Dan Sorrese, last year’s Empire State Champion at 200 pounds. The match was back and forth, but even though Sorrese appeared to have the better hand position he could not manage to drive the much larger Bregvadze past the center of the table. After the competitor’s slipped, they set up in a hook and after the second start they ended up back outside. Sorrese appeared to lose his hand and wrist to Bregvadze and lost the match as he slipped in a losing position.

In the next round, the two would have a rematch left-handed. But Bregvadze proved too strong as he drove through Sorrese straight to the pad with a perfect full-hand top-roll. With his toughest matches out of the way it seemed, Bregvadze plowed through the competition into the finals with both arms.

Meanwhile, the southpaw, Jim McCann was winning hook match after hook match including a classic versus Kevin Nelson of Holbrook, NY. With a great hit off the go, McCann turned Nelson into a hook and yanked him down one inch from the pad. Nelson showed patience.

He waited for his opening and then gradually worked McCann back up past the center of the table. That is when he made his biggest mistake. Instead of staying close to his arm, Nelson fell back trying to employ a drag hook and opened up. McCann held steadfast with his bicep, kept a perfect tuck and drove Nelson to the pad for the win.

Prior to the finals, a much-anticipated match between the two undefeated pullers, McCann and Bregvadze loomed. Bregvadze asserted his dominance right from the start however, as he did something no one else was able to do that night: he rolled out McCann’s wrist, and he did it fast.

In the loser’s bracket, McCann was forced into a long hook match with Freeman, a young man that will soon be a two-armed force in the world of armwrestling. Though McCann won, it was easy to tell that the long matches outside were taking their toll on him.

Sorrese fought his way into the finals for a shot at McCann. After forcing him into another long hook match, Sorrese lost, but McCann ultimately lost more strength. In the final match Bregvadze’s hit forced a foul on McCann in a losing position giving Bregvadze the championship and likely supplying McCann with a very sore arm the following morning.

McCann was happy with his second place finish following the tournament and said he will soon become a familiar face in the NYAWA crowd.

Bregvadze still had plenty of work to do with his right arm though, even with a bye in the opening round of the super heavyweight finals.

First, Sorrese and Freeman would have to fight it out to see who would get another shot at him. To his credit, Freeman had kept both wrists throughout the tournament, not once getting rolled out on his way to the finals. But the work Sorrese has put in over the winter was evident as he managed to flop Freeman’s iron wrist and secure the pin. Freeman took third place.

In the final match, Bregvadze and Sorrese once again ended up top, and once again they slipped. Out of the hook they rolled, just like last time, but Bregvadze held on for the win, the Arm-Star Award and the day’s MVP. According to Bregvadze, it is time to test his arm on the real stage against the pros at the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® .

“I will be there,” he said with his friends and supporters gathered around him after the tournament. Bregvadze did acknowledge that he would have his work cut out for him there though.

Putting the newcomers aside, it was old hat when it came to 175-pound middleweight class. Spending the whole winter training together, once again Richard Calero of the Bronx and Harry Wilson of Brooklyn would lock horns.

Last year the two went back and forth with Wilson ultimately coming out on top in the Empire State Championship after another hard fought war.

The competition between Wilson and Calero is fast becoming the biggest rivalry in New York Armwrestling. What solidifies the rivalry is the fact that the two are very good friends and training partners.

As usual, the two struggled to get a grip they could both agree on before their first match-up, which everyone knew would inevitably be a long hard-fought hook match. From the start it looked as though Calero had too much back pressure for Wilson, but as the match got underway, Calero fell back too soon and too far, leaving his elbow off the back of the pad. Referee Mike Selearis gave Calero a warning, instructing him to get his elbow back within the donut (the style of pad used). Calero could not manage to replace his elbow and was given a foul.

On the restart, once again Calero brought Wilson to his side of the table, but he could not manage to keep his elbow on the pad. He received his second foul and Wilson was awarded the match.

Wilson won the battle, but the war was far from over.

Meanwhile, Greg Neish, of Phoenix, NY was winning matches in impressive fashion. He was flash-pinning opponents; managing to win his way into the finals where he met up with Calero.

Calero, who seems to have gotten away from pulling in a shoulder-roll, a technique that was successful for him last year, disposed of Gabriel Yak in a hook match just prior to the finals.

Calero and Neish ended up in a hook with Calero coming out the victor after a brief struggle.

Calero knew he had a difficult task ahead of him. He needed to beat Harry Wilson twice in the finals to take home the championship.

Again the two competitors would not give up an inch prior to the start. Off of the ‘go’ they met in the center of the table, wrists curled driving into each other’s forearms. This time, when Calero fell back into a drag, he kept not only his tuck but he kept his elbow on the pad as well. After a war of a hook match, Calero secured the victory and evened the score.

The final match did not have the drama as the first. Wilson, visibly warn down could not manage to hold Calero up. As in all three matches, the larger Calero was the aggressor, and ultimately the winner of the middleweight class, driving Wilson into a hook and to the pad for the win.

“He is the greatest guy in the world,” said Wilson of Calero following the tournament. “I am proud of him man, he has gotten so good in the last year.”

Calero, who is ready to start pulling in professional weight classes, attributes all of his success in 2002 to his work ethic.

“I have been working hard,” said Calero when asked how he was capable of bringing his technique together since last year. “I get nervous, is what it is. I am concentrating on keeping the same body mechanics, staying tight and tall on the table.”

Calero said he thought about using a riser to keep himself taller on the table but decided against it when he saw it slip out from underneath another puller earlier in the tournament.

“And Harry (Wilson) – he is a great competitor,” said Calero, coming off of a victory in the amateur middleweight class at the sit-down championships Dec. 7. “He always brings out the best in me.”

Left-handed, Calero was trying to keep the momentum he had from winning the Empire State Championship from Tony Kaiser, who now resides in Georgia. A three-match war between Calero and Kaiser at the Empire States was a coming of age for him.

He had a tough draw in the first round in Anthony Gutierrez, whose cousin Angel Cosme is one of the best left-handed hook pullers in the city at any weight.

Calero’s first match with Gutierrez was choppy but productive nonetheless. Calero dove inside but got parked in a hook by Gutierrez. Showing great presence of mind and thinking fast on his feet, Calero brought his shoulder behind the pull and drove into a press for the win.

Cosme, of Manhattan, dumped Yak in a hook and turned Wilson inside hard and fast, winning easily in the opening rounds.

In the loser’s bracket, Gutierrez drew 150-pound Empire State Champ Dan White. Gutierrez showed speed, as he cut White into a hook. As soon as White stopped his momentum, Gutierrez pumped, then gave hard rolling pressure flopping White’s wrist and bringing him straight to the pad.

Gutierrez then drew Wilson. With both pullers adept at pulling inside, it was strange when off the start they hit up top. After a grueling match, struggling for hand position, they slipped. Gutierrez proved to be too much for Wilson off the go, putting him on the fast track to the finals.

Calero eliminated Yak from contention with a hard wrist curl pressure into a half-hook and drove him straight down for the pin. In the next round, however, Calero would have to face the truth, Angel Cosme.

Cosme proved that sometimes the truth hurts after he caught Calero’s hit and threw him across the table for the win. To get another crack at Cosme, Calero would once again have to defeat Gutierrez.

Gutierrez could not manage to hold Calero up in the finals, as Calero fell back into a drag hook for a convincing win. Gutierrez went home with third place.

In the championship match, Cosme once again caught Calero’s hit. Calero fell on it, but lost his wrist and Cosme took home first place.

“I felt good today,” said Cosme following his seemingly effortless victory. “I have been working hard and I was just really in the zone today.”

What’s next for Cosme?

“The BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® ,” Cosme said. “That’s going to be hard – there’ll be a lot of competition there.”

Another guy that could surprise some people at the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® is Dan “Blue Thunder” White of Staten Island, NY. White won last year’s Empire State Championship in the lightweight class and has been training to go to nationals this year he said.

In White’s way at the tune up were two of New York’s other rising stars Sean Velazquez from Maspeth and Andrew Kendall from Elmhurst.

At the Junior Championships last year, Kendall won the Junior MVP and the 175-pound class while Velazquez held off Devin Worrel to win the 150’s. Velazquez and Kendall would not lock up until the finals on Thursday, however as Velazquez drew White in the early rounds and Kendall drew Bob Spieler.

Spieler, who had lost to Velazquez in the first round, faired no better against the hard shoulder-roll of Kendall.

White, in the meantime, had a fairly tough time with Velazquez inside but staved him off and sent him to the losers’ bracket where Kendall would be waiting in the finals. In the finals the two competitors showed a lot of intensity prior to the ‘go.’ Kendall’s speed proved to be the difference however, as he quickly got behind his arm and started driving into a shoulder-roll. Velazquez held him up and brought him back near the center of the table, but Kendall was buried behind the pull and eventually drove Velazquez to the pad.

Velazquez took a well-deserved third place.

Kendall was fired up for his championship match with White, but White was not to be denied. Kendall got a quick hit from the start once again, but White caught it and hit straight across for the win, picking up where he left off last year.

“I have been practicing really hard, but my arm needs more practice,” said White, who then reflected on the recent passing of his grandfather. “Grandpa Bob, rest in peace and you will always be inside my soul helping me win.”

Both the 132-pound featherweight class and the masters’ open weight class boasted just two competitors. Ken Atkins, of Brooklyn pulled out the featherweight class with two convincing wins over Chino Yung.

Jean Daigle, who was much larger than his 150-pound counterpart Bob Spieler, used his size and strength to easily win the masters’ class. For information on the complete schedule of events fans can visit the NYAWA Website at www.NewYorkArmWrestling.Com or Call Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592.

And then there was one…
Borough champs 'strike back' at the Empire States

At a glance: In 2002, armwrestling in New York reached its crescendo Oct. 10, atop the city's tallest building.


From each corner of the city and the surrounding region the best amateur armwrestlers convened at the pinnacle of the Empire State Building for a showdown that would pit borough champs against one another until there was one remaining survivor.
Throughout the year, pullers such as Greg Gavin, Dan Sorrese, Edwin Safarian, Richard Calero, Dan White and Eric Russell left it all out on the table, with one common goal: to be crowned the champion of their respective weight classes at the Empire State Finals.
Fitting on a rainy afternoon that a man nicknamed "Blue Thunder" would emerge atop the Manhattan skyline.
Dan "Blue Thunder" White, the Staten Island resident who has overcome a hearing impediment to solidify his spot among the best 150lb pullers in the city, came out thundering in the early rounds. White ran into veteran puller James Rought of Laceyville, PA as the last two competitors to survive in the winners' bracket. Both competitors decided to go inside in efforts to establish who had the more powerful hook. With White gaining an early advantage, Rought could only hold on for the ride as White dragged him to the pad for the win.
Meanwhile, Manhattan restaurateur Steve Zannikos was employing his drag-hook fighting off the young and powerful Shaun Velazquez as well as Blagomir Uramov of Astoria, NY.
In the finals, it was evident that Zannikos and Rought would hit into a hook off of the go, what was not apparent was which of the pullers had more inside power. At least not right away.
But after pounding away inside in the middle of the table, Rought began to wear Zannikos down and eventually pumped him to the pad for the win. But awaiting Rought at the top was 'Blue Thunder,' and it went boom!
Though Rought looked to get a fairly explosive hit off the go, White caught the lightweight, stopping him in his tracks, and then came across with the wrecking ball, earning him the 150lb title.
Following the tournament, White spoke briefly about his disability and how he is determined to look past it continuing to compete at a high level in the sport of armwrestling.
"I think I am the first deaf person to armwrestle competitively," White said. "I grew up loving armwrestling and I still love it; I just hope my arm will still be good ahead. I just want to thank Dan Fortuna and the team from Bayside for having patience with me and helping me."
With a classy demeanor and a tireless work ethic, White will undoubtedly become a force in the lightweight pro class in near the future.
The featherweight class had no decisive favorites as it looked like a toss-up between Gabriel Yak of Flushing, NY and Team Connecticut pullers Chris Sciarappa and Floyd Ryder.
The promising 14-year-old New York puller, Justin Clifford rounded out the class, which boasted only four competitors.
In round one, Floyd Ryder controlled Clifford's hand from the start and rolled him to the pad for the win. Following Ryder's victory, Sciarappa and Yak squared off for the first time.
With a slip underneath by Sciarappa, the two pullers locked up in the straps. Sciarappa gave hard post pressure, however Yak was able to force Sciarappa into a hook. After a brief battle, Yak drove Sciarappa to the pad.
Sciarappa would find himself in the finals though, hitting Clifford straight across to earn a shot at the title.
In the winners' bracket match, Ryder ended up forcing Yak up top, but lost his hand and injured himself in the process as Yak drove him to the pad for the win.
Ryder had to pull out of contention due to the injury and took third place by default. Sciarrappa went on to face Yak again, this time for the featherweight title.
In the rematch, both competitors hit inside. Sciarappa fought long and hard but was unable to keep his tuck and get his shoulder behind the pull. Gradually Yak worked into a resting spot and fell on it for the pin and 132lb title.
A heavily favored Tony Kaiser of Plainville, CT went into the 175-pound-weight class seemingly head and shoulders above the rest. But someone must have neglected to inform Patrick Baffa of that.
Baffa, the 150lb native of Whitestone, NY jumped up a weight class to prove his mettle, putting his devastating hook upon the table to rival the lightning fast top-roll of Kaiser.
Round two saw both Baffa and Kaiser on the table for what would be the first clash of unstoppable force (Kaiser's roll) and immovable object (Baffa's hook). Off the go, Kaiser hit Baffa nearly to the pad, lifting Baffa's elbow off the table in the process. Though Baffa managed to suck Kaiser into a hook and drive him across the table for the pin, the match was restarted due to the earlier elbow foul.
Once again Kaiser hit up top, but his failure to indicate to the referee that he wanted their hands brought around prior to the go, allowed Baffa to crank Kaiser inside and get his shoulder behind it. Kaiser could barely manage to slow Baffa down in a hook and Baffa went forth in the winners bracket.
Baffa would go on to face Richard Calero of the Bronx in his next match. Calero, who placed second behind Kristian Gelenscer at the finals last year, looked to be the only formidable hook-puller that could give Baffa a run for his money inside. But outside was a different matter altogether. Off the go, Baffa posted hard and Calero lost his wrist trying to drive in. Baffa kept the pull outside and hit Calero straight across to the pad for the win. The win undoubtedly established Baffa as the man to beat in the finals.
To reunite with Baffa in the finals, Kaiser would have to face Calero in a rematch of their meeting earlier in the year at the Bronxboro Championship. The rematch went much like their first meeting at Orchard Beach. Kaiser smoked Calero up top for the win, eliminating him from contention in the middleweight class.
Surviving his way into the finals with Baffa and Kaiser was Harry Wilson, the Brooklyn resident and veteran 150lb puller, who was forced into the 175lb-middleweight-class after winning the lightweight class last year.
Wilson's hand and wrist proved to be no match for Kaiser. Kaiser, a native of Louisiana is nicknamed 'Louisiana Lightning' and the 'Ragin Cajun' for his speed and intensity on the armwrestling table. Before Wilson could drive inside he was already at the pin pad, but he escaped with a hard earned third place.
The championship match between Kaiser and Baffa was a carbon copy of their meeting earlier in the tournament. Once again, Baffa corralled Kaiser's hit and, with his superior wrist strength, pulled Kaiser into a hook and drove him across for the win and the Empire State Championship.
When asked how he managed to get Kaiser inside, Baffa himself seemed, well, baffled.
"I just did it," said Baffa with a slightly mystified tone. "Sometimes I don't know how I do things, I guess I just have certain strengths that come out at times."
Kaiser moved forward undaunted as he looked to be the man to beat early on in the left handed lightweight class. In his way, once again would be Wilson and Calero, last year's third place finisher.
Calero got a gift early on from referees Frank Malis and Bobby Buttafuco as he was awarded a victory over Baffa by parallel pin. Both competitors were at a stalemate in the center of a table in a hook when the two competitors' hands suddenly moved downward below the pin pads. Buttafuco awarded the match to Calero though Baffa's hand looked from one angle to be on top of the pull. Nonetheless, Calero was given the victory and was propelled into the winners' bracket. That match would later prove to be a turning point in the left-handed-175lb class.
Baffa was eliminated after he ran into White in the loser's bracket and lost a war of a hook match.
Calero ventured on in the winner's bracket to face Kaiser in what would be the first of three meetings between the two pullers in the left-handed class. Calero drove Kaiser into a hook and shoulder-rolled him to the pad to solidify his spot in the finals.
To determine who would have the last remaining spot in the winner's bracket, Calero ran back into his friend and training partner Wilson. It was fitting that these two pullers who have been beating each other in wars of attrition all year would once again lock up into a long hook match. Calero managed to gradually open Wilson up dragging him closer and closer to the pad, but Wilson kept hanging on. Finally, one last thrust brought Wilson below the pad and gave Calero the victory.
Kaiser rolled his way back into the finals and Wilson managed to stave off a late charge by White, as he fell into a post, stood up tall and pushed behind the pull in a tricep for the win and a shot at Kaiser left handed.
Unlike their right handed match, Wilson caught Kaiser's hit left handed but could not manage to hold on as Kaiser drove him to the pad for the win.
The rematch between Kaiser and Calero played out in strange fashion. Kaiser, who typically wins with his speed, got a terrible hit off of the 'go,' but posted hard enough to flop Calero's wrist. Kaiser drove outside, and pulled Calero all the way across the table for the win.
Kaiser admitted he was too slow during the match he managed to beat Calero, but said the pull was flawless otherwise.
"I pulled it (the match) right," said Kaiser, who will likely be moving down to Georgia later this fall. "I got a weird jump but after that it was the perfect pull."
Match three saw Calero net an early foul, when he turned into a hook prior to the go. On the restart, Calero was able to force Kaiser inside and drove into a shoulder roll for the pin and the Empire State Championship.
"Coming in I was really nervous and had butterflies in my stomach," said Calero, who works as a personal trainer. "I didn't know if I should throw up or pray. After that first loss left handed, I knew I had to get in there fast, which is why I drew that false start. I am just glad I was able to get inside on the restart," Calero added.
Kaiser, who going in was considered a favorite in the two weight classes he pulled, congratulated Calero after the match. Kaiser ended up going home with second place honors both right and left handed.
But where Kaiser seemed to be going Sean Ringgold had already been, as Ringgold staved off Edwin Safarian to win the open left and right-handed weight classes at the Queensboro Championship in July.
To win another coveted Arm Star Award would mean Ringgold's reputation as the 'Rockaway Flash' would have to stand in face of the biggest and best amateur armwrestlers in the area.
In the super-heavyweight class, Ringgold had perhaps his toughest draw in the first round. Despite a nagging shoulder injury, Dan Fortuna of Wading River, NY was the most veteran puller of the whole bunch. Rising in the professional ranks in the 242lb weight class, Fortuna also serves as a referee for the New York Arm-Wrestling Association.
Prior to the go, Ringgold told Buttafuco, a 14-time King of Arms in New York, that he did not feel comfortable. With a low grip on Fortuna, apparently in efforts to hem in Fortuna's top-roll, Ringgold looked to be vulnerable in a post.
Fortuna's high grip and strong back load looked to be too imposing for Ringgold, but just prior to the 'go,' Ringgold re-gripped and got way above Fortuna's thumb knuckle. Fortuna caught Ringgold's hit and fell back into a post with his elbow at the rear of the pad. With Ringgold having total hand control, Fortuna had no choice but to slip.
In the straps, after Fortuna managed to keep Ringgold at bay with his backpressure for a moment, Ringgold cranked with his wrist until he finally was able to turn Fortuna inside and drive him to the pad for the win.
Meanwhile, strongman Eric Russell of Wappinger Falls, NY drew Shawn Freeman, last year's second place finisher, in the first round.
Russell, a dedicated puller, who drives nearly two hours to Connecticut to train each Sunday looked to be one of the favorites. Another Arm Star Award winner, Russell's side pressure and hook have gotten increasingly powerful since he dominated at the Bronxboro Championship in June.
But it was Freeman who would get the better hit in this match-up. Russell was opened up right from the start, but managed to catch Freeman in a hook. After holding on for some time, Russell looked to be tiring. Freeman finally stood up and pushed Russell's hand to the pad in a tricep to secure the victory and send Russell into the loser's bracket early on.
Meanwhile, Krysztof Perka of Ridgewood, NY drew the budding Kevin Nelson in round one.
Nelson's superior top pressure looked to be too much for Perka as he hit hard peeling open Perka's hand and wrist. But Perka managed to slip underneath in a tricep and both competitors were put in the strap.
After a peg foul on Nelson, the restart saw Perka driving into a hook and dragging Nelson to the pad for the upset, and a chance to move on in the winners' bracket.
Russell managed to climb his way all the way up the losers' bracket to face Perka, who had been the surprise of the day after eliminating Dan Fortuna in the straps in the round before the finals.
Perka's hook would garner him victory after victory prior to his match in the finals with Russell. But Russell's inside pressure proved too daunting as he drove into Perka's wrist and then rolled him to the pad for the win.
With one loss, and an undefeated Ringgold at the table for the final match, Russell knew a a very tall task lay ahead.
Russell grabbed Ringgold high and drove with his superior side pressure, but Ringgold managed to suck Russell in, re-grip and get hand control, and drive Russell straight across the table for the victory and a shot at winning his second Arm Star Award of the year.
To complete the task, Ringgold would have to go through the phenomenal Baysider Edwin Safarian in the left-handed supers.
In the first round of the left-handed super-heavyweight class Ringgold drew Russell and took advantage of Russell's extremely low grip driving him hard to the pad in convincing fashion.
Safarian had Nelson in his path to round two. The two competitors slipped grips up top going into the strap. With one of the best left-handed hooks in the country, Safarian earned an easy victory sucking Nelson inside and securing the pin.
The crowd assembled at the front of the stage to see Ringgold and Safarian tangle in what looked like it would be a runaway win for Safarian. Safarian's hit up top drove, not only Ringgold's hand, but his entire arm to the pad and Ringgold was called for an elbow foul. But on the restart Ringgold was able to get hand control and took Safarians wrist. Safarian's arm would follow.
Though Ringgold and Safarian looked like they had a walk to the finals in the left-handed super-heavyweight class, Fortuna had other plans. As Safarian eliminated Arjun Nagpal and Perka, Fortuna and Ringgold locked up for what would be a second back-and-forth battle that went much like their pull right-handed.
Again, it looked as though Fortuna had too much backpressure for Ringgold. Off the go, both pullers exploded up top slipping grips and forcing them to go into the straps. Fortuna could not counteract Ringgold's superior side-pressure in the straps and Ringgold slowly drove him to the pad, putting himself in the finals without a loss.
Safarian and Nelson hooked up one last time to determine which puller would join Fortuna and Ringgold in the finals. This time, Nelson flopped Safarian's wrist, and Safarian looked to slip in a losing position. The referees, however, called for the strap and decided to let the two pullers fight to earn their spot on the medal stand.
In the strap, Safarian once again emerged victorious, turning Nelson into a hook and falling to the pad inside for the win, setting up what would be the match of the day in the finals.
Safarian and Fortuna exchanged grins and handshakes prior to locking up, knowing as friendly competitors they would be giving it their all in a few moments.
"Ready…. go!" Both men hit simultaneously up top trying to gain finger control and slipping in the process. In the straps, Fortuna gained and early advantage, hitting Safarian nearly to the pad and pealing his wrist like a sardine can. But Safarian showed poise on the table, breathing and holding on, supporting the pull with his bicep while turned toward the pin pad. Gradually, Fortuna just ran out of gas, and Safarian was able to curl Fortuna's wrist in. Fortuna wore out, but also wore a third place medal following the tournament.
Afterwards, Fortuna seemed more concerned with his right arm than his left however, incurring a possible rotator cuff injury.
"I am going to get it checked out tomorrow; this has been going on too long," Fortuna said. "I am 99 percent sure that it is something serious." Fortuna indicated that he had had trouble sleeping because of the injury.
Meanwhile Safarian and Ringgold had some unfinished business. Wanting to take the left-handed class, Safarian once again saw the overwhelming task of defeating Ringgold twice ahead of him. From the start, however, Ringgold proved to be much too strong, taking Safarian's hand and taking the title as well as the Arm Star Award.
Having to climb up the losers' bracket turned out to be the death nail in Safarian's title hopes.
"I didn't have anything left," said Safarian of his final match with Ringgold. "I had a tremendous amount of power in my first few matches but eventually I just wear down."
When asked how he would have approached the match with Ringgold if he had another shot, Safarian said he would have tried to hook him.
Safarian looked to be a favorite in the right-handed heavyweight class as well. The 200lb weight class looked to be the toughest of all with 2002 Armwrestler of the Year Greg Gavin and his training partner Dan Sorrese as well as veteran pullers Steve Mousseri and Jeff Geremia.
Geremia, who had taken a hiatus for several months prior to the tournament, drew Safarian in the first round in a rematch of the war these two pullers had in Queens back in July of 2001.
Geremia's layoff and Safarian's hard work were evident in the match, as Safarian chopped him straight to the pad.
In the following round, Safarian drew Gavin of West Islip, NY. Gavin made more progress this year than any other puller in the area perhaps, and his work earned him the distinction of NYAWA Armwrestler of the Year.
Gavin exploited Safarian's wrist from the start, however Safarian managed to slip underneath forcing the two competitors into the straps. Unlike a previous meeting between the two where Gavin flopped Safarian's wrist in the strap, this time Safarian was able to get his wrist cocked and hit hard, straight across for the pin.
But where Gavin came up short, his training partner picked up the slack. Safarian and Sorrese slipped up top and once again Safarian found himself in a strap match. This time, Sorrese gained hand control, taking advantage of the loose strap and rolled Safarian over for the win.
Sorrese earned himself some much needed rest as he watched Gavin and Safarian fight for the right to challenge him for the heavyweight title. Again, Gavin hit Safarian nearly to the pad, however Safarian fought into a tricep and slipped. In the strap, Safarian was able to force Gavin into a hook and dragged him to the pad for the win. Gavin took third.
Safarian's series of strap matches was not quite over as he and Sorrese slipped again in the championship match. Sorrese's superior strap pulling technique would prove to be the difference as he popped Safarian over again and held on for the pin and the title.
But Sorrese's work was not over. One man still stood in his way in the overall match, Ringgold. And though Sorrese flopped Ringgold over off the go, Ringgold's persistent side pressure enabled him to regain his wrist and drive Sorrese to the pad for the overall championship.
In response to his heavyweight championship, Sorrese says next year he will be trying his hand in the pro class at the BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® .
"Hopefully you'll see me this March in the 200lb pro class; I am going to give that a try," Sorrese said. "I have to give a shout out to my coach Frank (Malis)," Sorrese added in thanks to the efforts of his trainer.
"Sorrese was unbelievable, fantastic today," said Malis of the up and comer. "He was very powerful and aggressive today. I thought he would take the MVP, but Ringgold was just too strong."
With Amanda Fortuna and her mother Dina Fortuna competing in the women's classes, it was evident early on that one of the two pullers would have a hand in how the women's MVP would be decided.
Amanda fought off Melanie Oualles of the Bronx in the strap to earn a title shot at Christine Scheurich.
Fortuna got a good hit off on Scheurich, but Scheurich managed to turn Fortuna inside and drive her to the pad for the lightweight women's title.
Dina Fortuna who fought off Carrie Wilson for the women's open title sought revenge in the women's overall. With superior post pressure, Wilson rolled Scheurich hard to the pad for the win and the overall title.
"(Christine) gained hand position on me," said Amanda Fortuna following the tournament. "But my mom, she's awesome, she avenged my loss."
"That's what moms are for," added Safarian who just happened to be listening in.


Taking it to the streets
The region's strongest amateur arms locked up to determine the Manhattanboro Championship at the Columbus Avenue Street Festival

By: James Retarides

The sweltering heat sizzling from the pavement provided the perfect backdrop, not only fitting for summer's final day but for the Major World and Major Chrysler/Jeep Sponsored 'Manhattanboro' Arm Wrestling Championships as well. The event was presented by The West Side Chamber of Commerce and The City of New York Parks and Recreation.

A slew of armed warriors, many of whom were clad in tank-tops, surrounded the 45' City Parks Dept. stage perched in the center of Columbus Avenue at the cusp of 86th Street in anticipation of their final opportunity to qualify for the Empire State Finals on Oct. 10. A captive audience of thousands watched the exciting 'armed combat' throughout the day.

The lightweight class featured a combination of arm wrestlers that are quickly becoming mainstays in both the 132lb featherweight class and the 150lb class. The puller that established himself as the man to beat early on was James Rought of Laceyville, PA.

Rought, a seasoned puller, got his start in the sport at a tournament four years ago at the Staircase Lounge in Pittston, PA. Despite his experience, however, Rought would have his work cut out for him with an up and coming Chris Sciarappa jumping up a weight class to pull at 150lbs.

Sciarappa, 24, of Seymour, CT, would twice lock horns with Blagomir Urumon who resides in Astoria, NY. Realizing that Urumon had a strong hook, Sciarappa decided to employ a post and roll technique off of the "go" in match one. With superior wrist pressure, Sciarappa was able to roll Urumon to the pad, but two rounds later the two would come to battle in the finals.

Meanwhile, Sciarappa hooked up with the larger, more experienced Rought as the two remaining pullers in the winners' bracket. Rought took Sciarappa's wrist from the start, however, Sciarappa held steadfast in a tricep to prolong the match. Sciarappa was unable to get behind the pull with his shoulder, however, and Rought managed to roll Sciarappa to the pad.

The second match between Sciarappa and Urumon was a harder fought battle. Sciarappa posted hard, rolling out Urumon's wrist. Urumon, however, stopped the roll and Sciarappa drove until Urumon could not hold on any longer. Urumon pulled hard and placed third but it was Sciarappa who would get a second shot at Rought.

Rought's wrist proved to be the difference in the final match, as Sciarappa could not manage to get into his deceptively strong shoulder roll. Following the tournament, Sciarappa said he was undaunted by the loss to Rought and is looking forward to competing at 132lbs in the Empire State Finals.

"I was nervous because I was put in a bigger weight class and I was really just glad to have placed," said Sciarappa, who will be one of the favorites to win his respective class at the Empire States. "In that last match I was debating whether I should go up top or in a hook and I ended up leaving my arm wide open. That guy (Rought) was good, he had a really strong hand and wrist," Sciarappa added.

As is often the case, the right-handed 175-pound middleweight class was stacked with the most competitors. The hungriest of those competitors was undoubtedly Richard Calero.

Calero, a personal trainer from the Bronx, set the pace early on with his textbook shoulder roll that is rapidly propelling him to the top of the middleweight class, flash pin by flash pin. In his first match, Calero drove Jason Hall inside and rolled his wrist out for the win and a great deal of momentum going into the second round.

Calero met up with another tough competitor in round two: Joe Nelson, one of five Nelson siblings to pull at the tournament Saturday. Nelson attempted to counteract Calero's powerful tricep with his solid drag hook. But Calero would prove much too strong for the East Islip, NY native.

Calero, the puller with the Superman tattoo on his upper arm might as well have had the 'S' on his chest as he marched unchallenged into the final match pillaging through the middleweight class.
Nelson's hard half-hook staved off a promising Carlos Gutierrez, climbing all the way back up through the loser's bracket. The win pitted Nelson against Jack Chau, who used his hard wrist curl pressure and his speed to earn a spot in the middleweight finals.

Chau's backpressure caused Nelson to open up and pull away from his arm. With constant driving pressure, Chau extended his body out across the table earning the victory and a second shot at Calero. Nelson took third place.

Chau, of Whitestone, NY, was manhandled inside during his first match with Calero and match two would prove to be no different. Chau was unable to slow down Calero's shoulder roll. Calero claimed the class and was named the most valuable puller.

Calero said going in, he heeded the advice of the 187lb-double-armed national champ Mike Selearis.

"I stopped covering my (thumb) knuckle and started going into a low post grip," said Calero of his new approach. "I have to thank Mike for that and I also have to thank my coach Marty (Soven) for all of the good advice he has given me."
Though Calero managed to garner MVP honors and the first place award in the 175lb-weight-class, the story of the day was newcomer Steve Shlian.

Shlian, 19, of New Brunswick, NJ could soon be establishing himself alongside the area's top young guns, pullers such as Patrick Baffa and Ed Safarian of Queens, NY.

With 13 men in both his left and right handed weight classes Shlian would have to show endurance more so than strength to come out on top.

In the right-handed heavyweight class, Shlian won hook match after hook match finding himself in the finals with Steve Maucere of West Babylon, NY and the top-roller from Allentown, PA, Steve Bennett.
After slipping grips up top in a match that took place prior to the finals, Maucere and Bennett started in a hook with Maucere coming out the victor. After Maucere lost to Shlian inside in the following round, Bennett, the crafty veteran, knew he would have to bear down to take the weight class.

In the finals, Bennett would show just how crafty he was as he had a few surprises left for the other two competitors.

Bennett was determined to hold on in his second match with Maucere. Off the "go," Bennett fired up top keeping Maucere at bay with his powerful wrist and fast roll. Maucere had to settle for third, setting up a much-anticipated match between Bennett and Shlian.

From the start, Bennett's backpressure was too much for Shlian, as he pulled Shlian's elbow clear from the pad. Setting his elbow off of the pad in the middle of the table, Shlian was able to stop Bennett's roll and sucked him into a hook, pinning Bennett to claim the heavyweight title.

Shlian would again find himself in the finals with Maucere in the left-handed super heavyweight class, and with similar results.

Joining the two men in the finals was Kevin Nelson of Holbrook, NY. Nelson was parallel pinned in an early round match up with Joe Milano of Stratford, CT. Nelson managed to regain his composure and fight his way up through the losers bracket. Beating Dan Sorrese up top secured his chance to take a crack at Maucere.

Much like Nelson's earlier defeat to Milano, Maucere controlled Nelson up top, finding himself in a rematch with the 19-year-old rising star Shlian.

Shlian attacked Maucere, drilling him to the pad in a hook, once again. As a result, Shlian was awarded the Arm-Star, given only to competitors that win their weight class both right and left handed.

"I never armwrestled competitively before," said Shlian, a business major at Rutgers University. "My step father just put me in there. I was kind of surprised; I really didn't know what to expect."

Shlian says the armwrestling world can expect to get another glimpse of him soon, as he is poised for a return to the Empire State Finals.

Though Sorrese came up short of the medal stand left handed, placing fourth, he would get revenge against Nelson in the right-handed super heavyweight class.
Sorrese, typically a heavyweight, had to push up a weight class in the final qualifier prior to the Empire States.

Nelson was able to keep Shawn Freeman, last year's runner up at the Empire States, out of his powerful hook in the finals and forced Freeman to slip in a losing position. Nelson was awarded the match; Freeman took a hard-fought third place.

Sorrese sought vengeance against his training partner, Nelson, in the final match, and as it turns out, justice would be served. With an explosive hit up top, Sorrese took Nelson's hand. Though Nelson was able to stop Sorrese momentarily, he could not fight off Sorrese's driving side pressure. Sorrese took the title, but was not done for the day. He would later meet up Shlian in the overall match.

Sorrese, a favorite to win the 200lb weight class at the Empire States welcomed the rookie with a blistering top roll driving Shlian straight to the pad to win the overall match.
Following the tournament, Sorrese indicated that he was looking forward to competing at the Empire States, appropriately held at the Empire State Building on Oct. 10.
"I didn't know what to expect coming into today," Sorrese said. "I wanted to win today because I want to keep pace with (Greg) Gavin."

Gavin, the outright favorite to win the 198lb class at the Empire States, would also be one a few favorites to win the overall, on an even keel with other favorites such as Tony Kaiser, Eric Russell and Sean Ringgold.

Gavin was happy to see his training partner win the overall at the Manhattanboro Championship, and says he is looking forward to locking up with him at the Empire States. "Dan did great today," Gavin said. "And I can't wait to see him at the Empire States."

Kevin Nelson, who placed second right-handed and third left-handed, says he is also getting armed and ready for the Empire States.

"I am looking forward to pulling with both arms," Nelson said. "Even though I am a natural righty, I pull a lot stronger with my left arm," he added.

Brother Joe Nelson surely can relate. Placing third with his right arm, Nelson would prove to be the strongest competitor in the left-handed lightweight class. Jason Hall's victory over Steve Moucere came in the form of a hard top-roll, putting him in a position to gain a possible upset over Nelson.

But it was not to be, as Nelson hit Hall into a top roll of his own, letting out a victory roar for good measure.

In the women's open class, the Nelsons' sister, Margaret Messina of Sayville, NY showed some of that superior Nelson side pressure to drive second place finisher Melanie Oualles to the pad twice. Jennifer Griffith took third.

In the lightweight women's final match it featured Ydiaza Decastro, of the Bronx beating out Katherine Weck from Westfield, NJ. for the 'Manhattanboro' title.

Kids Exhibit Muscle Power at NYC Junior Arm Wrestling Championship
Andrew Kendall of Elmhurst Crowned as MVP; Newtown HS Wins Team Title

MASPETH, QUEENS, NY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2002 - Boys and girls ages 8 to 17 took the stage before hundreds of cheering onlookers to battle for the individual titles and school honors last Sunday at the 24th Annual NYC Junior OPEN Arm Wrestling Championships, as part of The Queens Maspeth Street Fair '02, presented by the NYC Parks Department. High-School aged and younger boys and girls competed in separate weight classes in a crowded field of over 70. All were undeterred by threatening clouds and a brief downpour, and the event sponsors, Major World and Major Chrysler/Jeep of LIC passed out discount coupons to spectators, as youngsters from Maspeth garnered the most wins and the defending champions, Newtown High School held on to the Team Title it last won in 2000. The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA), which also manages the New York 'Golden Arm' Series and Empire State Final had to cancel the junior event last year due to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Breezing through all comers to take titles in both the right- and left-handed 175-lb weight classes, an experienced Junior and amateur, Andrew Kendall of Elmhurst and Newtown HS was crowned as the day's MVP among the high-school competitors. Julio Espinal of Elmhurst was the second-place winner to Kendall in the right-handed contest, and Devin Worrel of Corona in the left-handed contest.

In the super-heavy weight class, Artun Nagpal of Elmhurst vanquished Gabriel Yak of Flushing, but the order was reversed when they fought left-handed -- "a surprising upset by Yak" of an experienced dual-handed favorite, according to Gene Camp, President of the NYAWA and the event's emcee. In the 150-lb middleweight class, Shaun Velazquez of Maspeth "put on quite a show, tenaciously beating back tough competition from second-place winner Worrel and others," Camp said. In the 132-lb lightweight class, Peter Wang of Elmhurst flash-pinned Rashdie Chowdhury, also from Elmhurst, who earned second place. Among the 105-lb featherweights, Matthew Putne of Elmhurst bested Angel Silva of Maspeth. The lightest class, 75-lb younger kids, featured Raphael Silva of Maspeth taking on and winning against all comers, with Michael Messina, also of Maspeth, taking second.

Among the girls, Emma Rae Anderson of Maspeth, a late entry, was named MVP and won the Open-Class, with Hailey Ann Mickulus of Maspeth second. Elizabeth Cameriero of Middle Village won the girls lightweight class (75-lb), with Cathleen Campbell of Maspeth taking second.

There also were three events for adults, to display for the kids some of the sport's top talent. In addition, warm ups, rules and lessons were held before events for all the newcomers. The adult MVP who won both the right and left-handed Open was Chris Selearis of Syosset, LI, who unseated Harry Wilson, the 2001's "NYC Arm Wrestler of the Year" with his right hand and beat John Papaiouanou of Flushing with his left. Selearis accomplished those feats despite a three-year hiatus from the sport. Anna Marie Sanna of Maspeth took first place and Yoland Owes of Brooklyn second place in the Women's Open.

Winners of this event over the age of 13 qualify for the amateur Empire State Golden Arm Finals, being held at the Empire State Building Observatory on Thursday, October 10th. The last qualifying event before the Finals will be held on Sunday, September 22nd at the 86th Street stage as part of the Columbus Avenue Festival in Manhattan, with weigh-in at 11 a.m. and start time 1 p.m.; the public is invited to enter or to watch. For more information, visit or call (718) 544-4592.

Rockaway's Ringgold Runs Away with Arm-Star, M.V.P.

By: James Retarides

With the lazy afternoon sun hanging above coastal Queens, Edwin Safarian approached the table last Sunday with a tall task ahead of him. With the Rockaway giant, Sean Ringgold, hulking in front of him, the 190lb Safarian found himself standing within a very dark shadow.

Ringgold, who stands 6'5," with a 280lb frame sculpted of muscle, a huge hand and a very tall forearm, had beaten Safarian earlier in the tournament stopping the Baysider's top-roll with a hard tricep.

Known for his strong left hook, Safarian decided to live or die with the technique in an inside battle; it was a clash of the titans.

With the crowd assembled along the boardwalk giving the young Baysider their support, referees Mike Selearis and Dan Fortuna set the grips of the two competitors. Off the go, Safarian snapped Ringgold into a hook and drove hard to the pad for a decisive victory.

With an easier road to the finals, Ringgold seemed nervous but confident going into match three. Though the two pullers ended up back in a hook, Ringgold was faster off of the go and Safarian could not get his shoulder behind it. Having to drag hook Ringold across the table proved to be too daunting a task and Ringgold got the pin and the Queensboro Championship.

Prior to the finals, Safarian had to pull both the third and fourth place finishers in the left-handed open bracket. Afterward, Safarian said he was too confident going into the final match. "In that last hook match I just didn't have it," said Safarian of his third match with Ringold. "I didn't get behind it; I was cocky with the start. But it's all about the experience I guess."

Earlier in the tournament, Joe Milano, of Stratford, CT, managed to beat Chris Perka of Ridgewood, NY in the straps. However Milano ended up drawing Ringgold in an early round and Safarian in the round just prior to the finals. With a burst of side pressure, Safarian flashed Milano and Perka ended up placing third.

"All of the competitors showed a lot of strength," said Milano, a natural lefty. "The first two matches were difficult but technique turned out to be the key factor. In my last two matches I was just plain overpowered."

The right-handed open weight class went much like the left though Kevin Nelson of Holbrook, New York was thrown into the mix. Nelson looked to be Ringold's toughest opponent right handed. With a strong outside game and a developing hook, Nelson drew Ringgold as the last two competitors remaining in the winners' bracket.

With a hard hit up top, it looked as though Nelson would be able to roll Ringgold to the pad. Ringgold collected Nelson's top-roll, keeping his fingers flat and maintaining his wrist. With the both competitors fighting tooth and nail for hand position up top, Ringgold pulled his right shoulder up tall to the table and pressed Nelson to the pad for the victory.

Safarian drew Nelson in the finals, as he fought his way up through the losers' bracket beating Perka in his last match before his bout with Nelson.

With Nelson and Safarian hooking up to decide who would pull Ringgold for the right handed championship, going in, both pullers knew the match would be predicated on whether or not the superior top pressure of Nelson could keep Safarian out of his powerful hook.

From the start, Safarian forced Nelson inside to garner the victory and one last shot at Ringgold. Nelson took third.

The rematch with Ringgold went much like their left handed battle inside, however this time Safarian was the aggressor. With a strong start, Safarian looked to control the match early, but Ringold's superior strength and size took its toll on Safarian. As Safarian opened up, his arm went to the pad though he fought valiantly in defeat.

"That kid is incredibly strong for his size," said Ringgold of Safarian, the NYAWA armwrestler of the year in 2001. "I feel fantastic because going into that last match I didn't know what was going to happen."

Ringold, last year's Queensboro champ, who garnered both the MVP and Arm-Star awards Sunday says New York armwrestlers are going to see a lot more of him in the near future.

"You are going to see me at more of these events," Ringgold said. "And your all going to be in trouble," he added with a smile.

Ringgold was not the man who smiled the most at the Queensboro Championship however. That distinction belonged to Harry Wilson of Brooklyn. The veteran puller and reigning NYAWA Armwrestler of the Year was having some trouble in the 175lb-weight-class in the tournaments prior to Sunday.

Wilson, 40, won the Empire State Championship at 150lbs last year barring him from lightweight competition at Golden Arm Series tournaments.

Falling to training partner Richard Calero of the Bronx earlier in the year must have lit a fire underneath Wilson who showed up in top form Aug. 11. The rivalry between the two pullers seemed to be brewing since Calero defeated Wilson in a hook at the ‘Bronxboro’ Championship June 29.

With a flash-pin victory in a drag hook over Dan White, from Staten Island early on, Wilson set the tone from the start in the 175lb class. He was a force to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, Calero drew James Vilme, the hometown favorite from Rockaway in the first round. With both competitors fighting early on for position, Calero and Vilme were parked in a hook at the table's center for some time. But Calero's poise and powerful shoulder roll proved too strong for Vilme. Even though the 175lb-weight-class was stacked with competitors, somehow it seemed these two were destined to meet in the finals.

Vilme wore down Eric Safarian in a drag-hook and Dan White in a shoulder-roll, winning match after match inside as Calero used his textbook shoulder-roll to fight his way up the winners' bracket for a showdown with Wilson.

Both competitors drew early fouls while fighting for a grip. Neither Wilson nor Calero would give an inch. After being set up in a referee's grip, Wilson exploded off the go for the win even though Calero turned him into a hook.

Calero would have to do battle with Vilme to earn another shot at Wilson. After Calero smoked through Vilme in a shoulder-roll, Vilme complained of a false start. The referees restarted the match and Calero ended up getting stuck with Vilme in a drag-hook but managed to back Vilme out with his lat-muscles and fight off his bulging bicep for the win. Vilme settled for third place

Once again Calero and Wilson fought for a grip and the crowd could feel rivalry begin to simmer with the humid 95-degree day as its backdrop. Off the go, Wilson gained the early advantage and managed to peel Calero open in a drag hook for the win, reclaiming his Queensboro title that he won after a hard-fought match up top against James Retarides last year.

Wilson's success right-handed seemed to give him a burst of confidence in his left arm. Though Dan White had lost to Wilson decisively right handed; the 150lb puller from Staten Island was putting on a clinic left-handed. With a strong wrist, White's half hook kept him in the winners' bracket as he rolled through tough competitors such as the young Baysider, Eric Safarian and Giovanni Bresciani of Whitestone, NY.

Prior to the finals, White had a war with Andrew Kendall of Elmhurst, NY. Kendall actually hit White halfway to the pad and got behind it. White, however, managed to pull Kendall out of his tuck and drag him across the table for the win.

Wilson and White both met unchallenged just prior to the finals. With a good hit, Wilson fell into a drag for the win and White and Bresciani would have to do battle one more time to see who would move on.

A long hook match ensued, back and forth as both pullers looked for an advantage. White stood up tall and brought his arm directly back to his shoulder. With a tight tuck, White fought through Bresciani's hook for the win. Bresciani took third.

With some momentum going into his match with Wilson, White jumped the go with a great inside hit managing to pull Wilson down in a drag. The two would have to meet a third time with Wilson having to rethink his strategy to claim an Arm Star Award.

Match three went much like match one with Wilson falling fast into his drag and disposing of White for the victory and the title in both middleweight classes.

"I felt great today, man," said Wilson following the competition. "I have been resting since the last tournament, not armwrestling but doing a lot of pushups."

As a testimony to what great shape Wilson is in, he does 500 pushups a day as "rest.'

Thought the young and powerful Bresciani took a third left handed, he was on a mission in the right handed 150lb class. The weight class was stacked with competitors, many of which are under the tutelage of Selearis, this year's Unified National champion both right and left-handed.

Hook match after hook match, the class was whittled down to White, Bresciani and Kendall. Just before the finals, Bresciani lost to White after a long drag-hook match. Bresciani seemed inspired to win the class, disposing of Kendall in a half hook in the first round of the finals.

Kendall fought his way through some tough competition to earn a spot in the finals and managed to go home with a hard-earned third place.

Bresciani had his earlier loss to White on his mind and decided to try and force the pull outside in match two. Changing techniques, Bresciani flashed through White twice for the first place medal in the lightweight class using a higher grip and a hard fast top-roll.

"When I lost in a hook I knew I didn't want to go back inside," Bresciani said. "That's why I decided to switch to a top-roll." Bresciani, 18, added that it had been a year since he had pulled a tournament.

Though there weren't as many competitors in the 200lb-heavyweight class, Anthony Canigliaro of Flushing, NY returned up in weight to challenge the strong arms of Michael Pymm from Middle Village, NY and James McGovern of Fresh Meadows, NY.

Canigliaro and McGovern were winning decisively with their top-rolls and Pymm's powerful hook earned him a spot in the finals as well.

Pymm and McGovern ended up inside as McGovern couldn't manage to fight off Pymms hard wrist curl. McGovern fought inside but opened up and Pymm went in for the kill. McGovern went home with third place.

Canigliaro decided to defy the powerful hook of Pymm by jumping inside off the go. With perhaps his best hit of the day, Canigliaro flashed him to the pad to garner the Queensboro title. Following the tournament Canigliaro talked about entering the super-heavies and getting ready for the Empire State Finals, which will take place in the observatory of the Empire State Building in October.

"I felt real strong today and I feel like I can go up in weight," Canigliaro said. "I think I have plenty of time to prepare for the Empire States."

Though only Christine Beahabib gave Melanie Oualles (both of the Bronx) a good match in 120lb class the story of the women's weight classes was the young progeny of Dan and Dina Fortuna. Amanda Fortuna, the thinly built teenager from Wading River, NY put on a show in the women's open weight class. Even though she was outweighed by her competitors, Fortuna won with ease pinning Patty Patillo and Angela Sette without breaking a sweat.

Fortuna awaited her competition for the overall and it looked as though no female competitors would answer the call.

However, Lauren Colantropo of Syosset, NY ascended the stage to the table. Colantropo disposed of Susan Perlmutter who took second after defeating her mother, Marie Perlmutter, in two grudge matches.

Though both competitors hit up top and a long match ensued, Colantropo could not maintain her wrist and Fortuna drove her to the pad for the victory, the women's overall and the female MVP award.

Historic Coney Island Boardwalk Becomes Muscle Beach

By: James Retarides

With the heat brimming from the bricks of Brooklyn, a battle of the biceps boiled over from the beach to the boardwalk as the area's best and most seasoned amateur pullers clashed with some of the brightest up and coming arm wrestlers from throughout the region.

For the second tournament in a row, Greg Gavin of West Islip, NY stole the show and MVP honors by going up a weight class and going unchallenged. With all three finalists of the super-heavyweight class, Dan Sorrese and Edwin Safarian, and Gavin known regionally for pulling in the open class at 198lbs, they would demonstrate that New York's toughest competitors could lie within the heavyweight class.

From the outset, Gavin asserted his dominance keeping Safarian out of his powerful hook. Safarian was forced to rely on a tricep, and slipped underneath Gavin's hard full-hand top-roll. Referee Frank Malis put both competitors in the strap, and with Gavin's strap spotted low and tight around his wrist he was able to open Safarian up and roll him to the pad.

Sorrese looked to be the man to beat early after a convincing victory against, a much larger, Russell Kiss. In the winners bracket, Sorrese would have to meet up with his training partner Gavin in the early rounds. With a fast, hard hit up top, Gavin gained control early in the match. Sorrese held on and tried to maneuver however Gavin kept constant pressure driving Sorrese to the pad.

Gavin would then face Kevin Nelson, another of his training partners, before the finals beating him up top to insure his spot in the top three. Nelson would then fall to Sorrese's top-roll, putting Sorrese into what promised to be a war of a match with Safarian. Oddly enough, it was Safarian that blasted across the table with a top-roll beating Sorrese. Following the match, Safarian said he felt he had no choice but to go up top with Sorrese because he felt as though he could not bang him inside. Sorrese took a hard earned third place.

The rematch between Gavin and Safarian went much like their first meeting. Safarian was not quick enough hitting into a hook and once again the two competitors ended up in the straps. As in the first match, Gavin would roll Safarian to the pad in the straps and claim the super-heavyweight class. Following a long layoff from arm wrestling, Safarian said he felt a little rusty, but was anxious to get back into the sport. "I haven't been training really but I'm going to start competing more," said Safarian who placed third behind Mike Selearis and Ray Darling at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum earlier this year. "I am going to start competing more," he added.

The win further solidified Gavin's status as a reputable pro puller, putting him among the better new professionals in the 198lb class. "Since the Bronx tournament we have done some intense training," said Malis, a pro in the 176lb class who trains Gavin and refereed the tournament Saturday. "We have been working mainly in the straps and it has worked out. As you can see today, it is a big advantage knowing how to pull in the straps. In the straps, whoever has the most power, wins? If he (Gavin) keeps doing this he might be better than coach soon and coach is going to have to start working harder."

Though he fell to Gavin right handed, Safarian would, however, outshine all other competitors with his left arm as per the usual. With training partner Anthony Conigliaro from Flushing proving his mettle in the 200lb class right handed, many felt the Baysider would have stiff competition in the 176lb+ left handed class. Young phantom Arjun Nagpal, under the tutelage of Selearis as both a high school wrestler and arm wrestler, fought through the class with his textbook half hook to make it to the finals with Safarian and Conigliaro.

In the finals, Safarian would reassert himself as possibly the most promising young arm wrestler in the nation at his weight. After sending Conigliaro into the loser's bracket with a decisive and convincing win in a hook, Safarian would rest until the outcome of the match between Conigliaro and Nagpal. Off the go, Nagpal tried to roll Conigliaro to the pad. Conigliaro stopped the roll but could not hold on as Nagpal stood tall on the table and pressed him to the pad. Conigliaro would have to settle for third place.

The final match pitted Nagpal with Safarian, and Safarian did not disappoint. On the go, Safarian hit with a burst of side pressure flashing Nagpal to the pad to claim the left handed open weight class and the 'Kingsboro' title.

Conigliaro did prove to be the best of the 200lb weight class though the class boasted only four competitors. With a win over Craig Young, newcomer Javier Vasquez of the Bronx positioned himself in the finals, giving him a shot at the 'Kingsboro' championship. But Vasquez would run smack into the fresh right arm of Nagpal who pounded him to the pad with a half-hook off the go. Vasquez placed third.

In the finals, Nagpal and Conigliaro would exhibit three of the best matches on the beach that day. After slipping up top in the first match, Conigliaro would gain a one-match advantage over Nagpal driving him to the pad with a tricep in the straps. Nagpal would even the score, however, getting a good hit off of the go and, with a hard wrist curl straight down, drove Conigliaro to the pad for a win in round two.

Both competitors left their hearts out on the table with one match remaining. Firing up top, they slipped grips and were set up in the straps. Nagpal looked to have the advantage, loading up perfectly, but after a dogfight of a strap match, both competitors elbow fouled simultaneously. Malis set the two competitors back up in the center of the table in a hook and Canigliaro would finally claim the title, driving Nagpal to the pad for the victory.

The women's open weight class featured just three competitors, however L.I. City resident Erin Stellmon proved to be head and shoulders above all female competitors at the ' Kingsboro' Championships. With Stellmon disposing of Kim Emhoff with a hard post and roll, Emhoff knew what would await her in the finals following her pull with Vanessa Rosario of Brooklyn. Though Emhoff flashed Rosario, the Brooklyn native once again fell in convincing fashion to Stellmon who waited patiently for he next opponent in the women's overall.

With seven competitors in the women's lightweight class, Brooklyn natives Kathy Wilson and Eugenia Vagman would have to contend with Linda Sottle, a strong puller from East Meadow, NY. Using her superior wrist strength, Sottle employed a hard wrist curl on Vagman and punched straight to the pad for the win. In the finals, Sottle's could not manage to control Wilson's hand, and Wilson's full-hand top-roll earned her the 'Kingsboro' title and a shot at Stellmon.

Stellmon won the overall with ease swallowing up Wilson's hand and claiming women's MVP honors. Stellmon said she first got involved in arm wrestling after talking with Selearis at the World Trade Center tournament in March of 2001. "I came out for the tournament last year and Mike asked me to give it a try," said Stellmon, who adds her latest accolades to her second place showing at the Intrepid earlier this year. "Up until then I had only arm wrestled in bars an thought it would be a fun thing to do."

The lightest class in weight was also the lightest class in competitors with only three pullers in the men's competition. Drawing a bye in the first round, Brooklyn's own Benni Thomas would await the winner of Justin Clifford of Edison, NJ and Dave Winters of Brooklyn. Clifford, 13, flashed Winters to the pad off the go but knew he would have to muster up all his strength to combat the more experienced Thomas. Thomas, sighting Clifford's wrist as his weakness, half-hooked him to the pad twice to claim the featherweight class.

Perhaps the heaviest action came out of the lightweight class. Twelve competitors entered the 150lb class, which provided some of the most exciting pulling of the day. With up-and-comers such as Connecticut's ambidextrous Ralph Petrazzuoli and Queens native George Lynch facing off with the likes of 59-year-old Bob Spieler of Brooklyn and Manhattan restaurateur Steve Zannikos.

The experience of Spieler and the strength of Zannikos proved to be the difference over the long haul. Endurance and focus being the key components of winning weight classes overloaded with competitors, some of the younger pullers would tire out as the day went on.

Petrazzuoli and Zannikos met in the winners bracket early on, with Zannikos earning the win after forcing Petrazzuoli into a hook. Spieler also seemed to rely on his drag hook winning battle after battle inside and earning a spot in the finals. George Lynch, of Elmhurst, Queens proved to be the most versatile of the young guns securing his place in the finals winning matches using a variety of styles.

Trying to use his youth and speed to combat the experience and endurance of Spieler, Lynch jumped into a shoulder roll off the go. Spieler, using his lat-muscles to pull Lynch out of his tuck, forced Lynch into a drag hook and secured the pin. Lynch took third.

The final match pitting Spieler against Zannikos looked to be a grudge match and the two competitors did not disappoint. With the crowd rooting them on, both men drove inside and fought long and hard in a drag hook. After opening Spieler up, Zannikos eventually wore him down and drove him to the pad for the title. "I am just a newcomer but I really want to get into this," said Zannikos, whose only experience with arm wrestling has been pulling the cooks at his restaurant. "This is an exciting sport and I would love to learn more about it."

The lightweight class in the left handed competition bore 11 competitors but it was the return of one puller that had most of the competitors abuzz. Angel Cosme of Manhattan came back to arm wrestling after a long layoff to dominate the class even though it was rich with competition.

Cosme and his nephew Anthony Gutierrez proved to be the cream of the crop going unchallenged into the finals, and Eric Safarian (younger brother of Edwin) would have to battle the hard hook of Petrazzuoli for the third spot.

With the young Safarian getting a hard hit off the go, Petrazzuoli could not manage to fight him into a drag, and Safarian would have to fight Gutierrez for a chance to meet Cosme.

Though Safarian once again got a quick hit to start the match, Gutierrez stopped him and drove him all the way back across the table in a hook for the win pitting teacher versus pupil in the final match. But the size, strength and experience of Cosme proved to be too much for Gutierrez as Cosme slowly dragged Gutierrez to the pad for the victory.

Following the tournament, Cosme spoke about his return to the table. "It felt good to be back," Cosme said. "I came in confident today."

Cosme said he looks forward to some hard fought matches in the future with Gutierrez. "He is getting very strong and is good left handed," said Cosme of his nephew. "He just needs a little more time."

Though Cosme would have likely been the winner of the middleweight competition right handed, he chose not to pull it because he has been experiencing chronic pain in his right shoulder. Grizzled veteran and hometown puller Harry Wilson, who has engaged in a number of wars with Cosme right handed looked to be the favorite going in, though he was pulling in a weight class with competitors who outweighed him by more than 20lbs.

With two hard fought victories over Julio Rosario, Wilson, a Brooklyn native, found himself in the finals with the younger Safarian and newcomer Eddy Criaris. Safarian, who had lost to Criaris earlier in the tournament, had a daunting task ahead of him having to peer across the table at Wilson.

With a quick burst of energy, Safarian flew into a shoulder roll, which Wilson barely stopped. Wilson hung on, however Safarian persevered fighting Wilson's hook to the pad for the win. "He beat me fair and square," said Wilson, 40, of Safarian. "I felt a little burnt out, practicing before the tournament, but that kid is good."

Wilson, who took third, feels he still has a very good chance at the Empire State Finals, which incidentally will be held on October 10th at the Empire State Building Observatory. "I think I can win it, but it depends on who is there and who is pulling good that day." Wilson, who has won the Empire State Championship in each of the past two years, was Arm wrestler of the Year in the NYAWA last year.

The final match showed that one of the favorites for the upcoming Empire State Finals has to be Criaris. With a fast shoulder-roll, Criaris flash pinned the younger Safarian and claimed the 'Kingsboro' Championship at 175lbs. Since Criaris, of Elmwood Park, NJ, can no longer pull the qualifiers at his weight, he says he would be confident pulling in a bigger weight class. "I feel like I can go up in weight and still win," Criaris said.

Criaris would have to pull one more match however, challenging Gavin for MVP honors in the men's overall. With a fast hit, Gavin top-rolled Criaris to the pad leaving the armwrestling world with only a chance to ponder what he will have in store for 198's at the national level next year.

A Rumble in the Bronx: 94 amateur pullers show up in arms for a battle on the beach.

By: James Retarides

Amateur arm wrestlers from throughout the northeast converged on a sultry summer day at Orchard Beach to vie for a chance to be the Bronxboro Champion and qualify for the New York Arm Wrestling Association's (NYAWA) Golden Arm Series Finals.

The Bronxboro Championship is one of ten amateur tournaments that NYAWA director Gene Camp holds prior to finals, which will be held on the observation deck at the top of the Empire State Building. And many of the pullers that turned out at Orchard Beach June 29 look to be contenders for the finals held this October.

Floyd Ryder, of Bristol, CT set the tone in the first round of the 132lb featherweight class flash pinning his way to victory until he ran into another Connecticut puller named Chris Sciarappa of Seymour. With a good hit off of the go, Sciarappa looked to gain position in the match early, but lost his tuck. As Ryder opened him up in a top-roll, Sciarappa's elbow slipped off the front of the pad in a losing position.

Ryder proceeded to go unchallenged until the finals as did Ray Guzman of the Bronx who had been winning hook match after hook match until he clashed with Sciarappa in a match to determine who would pull Ryder for first place. With superior backpressure, Sciarappa opened Guzman up and half-hooked him to the pad. Guzman took a hard earned third place.

Sciarappa, who fought his way back up through the loser's bracket to once again meet Ryder in the finals. This time, Sciarappa threw into a tricep, flopping his wrist and pushing toward the pin pad. But Ryder's superior hand and wrist proved to be the difference as he rolled Sciarappa out of his tuck once again for the pin and the Bronxboro Championship. Sciarappa took second place. "He (Ryder) took my wrist and after that everything else just fell," Sciarappa said. "But it felt good trying to back up through the loser's bracket."

The tournament was Ryder's second since he injured himself at the 2000 New England Championships in Cromwell, CT. "I injured a nerve in my elbow and it took a long time to heal," Ryder said. "I felt a little nervous today but my arm felt good all day and it feels fine now." With Ryder's speed and tight top-rolling technique he should be a contender at the Empire State Finals.

In the 150lb lightweight class Michael Hall of Pelham Bay in the Bronx capitalized on his youth and endurance to fight his way to finals unchallenged through a 14-man weight class. Though Sean Velazquez, of Maspeth, Queens, looked like the man to beat early on his match with Hall would prove to be the turning point. Velazquez fired into a shoulder-roll and hammered Hall nearly to the pad. But with the tides remaining steady on the shore at Orchard Beach, the tides would turn and the momentum would shift in the battle between Hall and Velazquez. As Velazquez pumped and pressed trying to get behind it with his shoulder, Hall gradually backed him out with his bicep and slowly fought him across the table in a drag hook for the win.

Meanwhile, Richard Lucas of Brooklyn was half-hooking his way to victory up through the winner's bracket until he ran into Hall. In a dogfight of a hook match that went back and forth across the table, Hall finally gained position and drove Lucas to the pad for the win. Lucas would have to battle Velazquez in the finals for another chance at Hall.

After Lucas and Velazques fought for finger position in a top-roll, they slipped grips with Velazques underneath but ended up in the straps because referee Michael Selearis deemed that neither competitor was in a losing position. In the strap, Lucas used his height to stand up tall and keep a tight tuck and jumped the go in a tricep for the win and a shot at hall in the final match. Velazques took third place.

Changing tactics in their second match with the championship on the line, Hall loaded up with backpressure and rolled Lucas out for the win and the Bronxboro lightweight championship. "I felt pretty good considering it was just my first tournament," said Hall, who is just 17 years old. "My first match was really hard, but other than that it seemed to get easier." Up until the Bronxboro Championship, Hall says he had only practiced arm wrestling with his father.

The toughest class of the day was undoubtedly the 175lb middleweight class as it bore 16 competitors including accomplished pullers such as Tony Kaiser, Richard Calero, Harry Wilson and Guy Mettle. Wilson, NYAWA arm wrestler of the year in 2001, came into the tournament as one of the favorites to win the class despite giving up 25lbs to the other competitors. Running into his training partner Calero early, Wilson decided to employ a hook technique, though Calero is known for his tight, fast and powerful shoulder roll.

With both competitors turning inside before the go, Calero gained position and drove Wilson to the pad for the victory. Calero, a Bronx native, looked as though he had established himself as the man to beat in that class. However, "The Ragin' Cajun," Tony Kaiser, a resident of Plainfield, CT who hails from Louisiana used his lightning fast top-roll to advance his way through the winners bracket until his much anticipated match with Calero.

Though much of the crowd that assembled at the front of the stage expected Calero to pound through Kaiser with his overwhelming hook, Kaiser flashed Calero off the go and advanced to meet Mettle, who had just beaten Wilson with a half hook.

Mettle, of Gelena, MD, dove inside on Kaiser, but Kaiser posted him hard and whipped him across the table for a decisive victory. Mettle and Calero would have to pull for the right to meet Kaiser in the finals. After driving into his shoulder roll and elbow fouling, Calero changed tactics on Mettle after the restart. This time, Calero blasted with straight side-pressure and drove him to the pad. Mettle took third and Calero would once again meet up with Kaiser, this time for a first place medal. The match proved to be a repeat performance of their previous pull, as Kaiser's superior hand and hit was too much for Calero to contend with.

Kaiser, who seemed excited about the chance to pull at the Empire State Finals said he would probably be pulling several tournaments prior to the championship in October and did not want to look ahead to it. "Right now I am concentrating on a qualifier in Maryland," Kaiser said. "The competition I'll have to face there will be the best in the world, guys like Bill Sinks, Dave Patton, Jason Vale, Josh Stark, and Mike O'Hara."

Calero would however get his revenge on Kaiser left handed. And Julio Rosario, a young puller from the Bronx would make his statement in the left-handed 175lb weight class. With Kaiser, a natural righty, having a much more laborious time trying to top-roll in the left handed weight class, winning seemed to be a less arduous process left handed for Calero.

The two met up in the middle rounds prior to finals and off the go, Calero snapped into his textbook shoulder roll for the win. After defeating Karta Webb in a long hook match Rosario had to face Kaiser. After a long match up top, Rosario saw his opportunity and jumped up in a shoulder press managing to overpower Kaiser to the pad. But Calero would prove to be too much for Rosario as he once again used his powerful tricep to drive Rosario to pad for the left handed lightweight title.

In the 200lb heavyweight class, Greg Gavin, the man from West Islip, NY, dominated with the power and quickness that Kaiser displayed in the 175lb class. Though Paul Carpino of Pearl River, NY showed a lot of promise in his first arm wrestling tournament Gavin's powerful hit proved to be too much in their pull before the finals. Carpino fought off Jack Loeb in a drag hook in their first match, but Loeb bowed out with a third place finish putting Carpino in the finals with Gavin.

Once again, Gavin smacked Carpino straight across the table with a hard full-hand top-roll for the victory in the 200lb class and a chance at the Arm-Star Award, given to competitors who take first place with both arms in the same competition.

In the super-heavyweight class 201lb+ Eric Russell of Wappinger Falls, NY proved the importance of a strong hand in the sport of arm wrestling. Russell, 25, can close the #3 Captain of Crush gripper, distributed by Iron Mind. Less than 60 strength athletes have succeeded in closing the gripper, which demands 280lbs of finger pressure to mash. Russell was featured in the last edition of Milo Magazine after accomplishing the feat of strength. To date, only Joe Kinney has been successful in closing the #4 gripper though many athletes are rumored to be closing in on that feat. Russell has performed many impressive feats of strength including a 495lb bench press and says he likes to pull because at 235lbs he is the underdog in the super-heavyweight class. "I like arm wrestling because it gives me a chance to beat guys that are bigger than me," said Russell following the competition.

Russell looked to dominate the open weight class Saturday until he ran into Peter Milano from Waterbury, CT. Milano, a hand control expert had won with ease prior to his battle with Russell. Though Milano appeared to have Russell's hand, re-gripping over his index knuckle, Russell fought off the constant pressure of Milano and began to open him up with his tricep. Once Milano lost his tuck, Russell pushed through him for the win and coasted into the finals.

In the finals, Dan Sorrese, another talented puller from West Islip, met up with six-time Bronxboro Champion Luis Diaz for a shot at Russell. Diaz drove inside with a shoulder roll off the go and Sorrese could not manage to back him out. Sorrese went home with a hard-earned third place.

In the final match, Russell and Diaz set up tall on the table with their arms tight to their shoulders. Off the go, Diaz dove into a hook on Russell, but Russell used his superior hand and wrist strength to roll him out to the pad for the win.

But it would be training partners Sorrese and Gavin that would battle for left handed super-heavyweight Bronxboro title. Milano showed poise after being hit nearly to the pad in a hook by Diar Gashi. Milano caught Gashi who was straining and keeping constant pressure. For about 30 seconds the pull did not move until Milano started to wear Gashi down and drag him to the center of the table. Once Milano gained hand control he gave Gashi rolling pressure to the pad. Milano could not do the same with Sorrese and Gavin, however and ended up taking third.

After opening up Russell and then rolling him out, Sorrese managed to flash pin Milano in the straps after what appeared to be a voluntary slip. Fighting back from the B-side of the bracket, Sorrese knew he would have to beat Gavin twice in the final to win the class. After defeating Gavin up top for the win in the first match, Sorrese looked to be the favorite to win the class. But Gavin had other ideas; with an explosive hit he managed to take Sorrese to the pad and garner the Arm Star Award.

In the women's bracket, the lightweight class proved to be the superior class drawing a better turnout of pullers. With seasoned veterans such as Christine Scheurich and Liz Sanchez from the Bronx as well as Susan Fischer from Fairless Hills, PA, the class did not disappoint. The three pullers, each with distinctive pulling styles breezed into the finals where Fischer and Sanchez would pull for the right to meet Scheurich in the finals. Though Fischer had gone to her top-roll earlier in the tournament, she defeated Sanchez after putting her foot up on the leg of the table and giving Sanchez a hard wrist curl straight down, driving into a half hook. Sanchez took third.

In the finals, Scheurich proved to be to strong administering backpressure before the go and drag hooking Fischer to the pad. Scheurich watched closely to see who she would be facing in the women's overall.

In the women's open weight class, Cindy Looney and Carrie Wilson both from Connecticut, set the tone early on. Wilson, a new comer to the sport was not a favorite to meet Looney in the finals, especially after Looney and Renata Maia of Brazil fought tooth and nail in the straps. Looney secured the pin though her strap was high on her wrist and Maia would have to face Wilson in the finals.

With the two competitors slipping grips up top, Maia would once again find herself in the straps. Wilson took Maia's wrist and fought off her tricep, holding on for the win and the right to face Looney in the finals. Maia took third.

In the final match, Looney re-gripped up top to secure hand control. Wilson fought valiantly but Looney's roll was just too much for Wilson and Looney took home the gold.

Looney and Scheurich would grip up in the women's overall to determine who would take home MVP honors and bragging rights. With a quick hit and a hard hook, Scheurich flashed Looney to the pad for the win.

In the men's overall, the winners of the middleweight, heavyweight and super-heavyweight class clashed with no decisive favorite. Kaiser and Gavin would have to compete for the right to pull Russell in the final match. Though Gavin took off with a quick hit, Kaiser corralled his hand and looked to gain finger position. Both pullers battled up top until Gavin looked to regain position with his index finger and with a few pumps of side-pressure, he took Kaiser to the pad.

In the overall match, Gavin and Russell hit simultaneously up top and ended up slipping grips. Though Russell had an obvious size advantage, Gavin looked to be more adept at pulling in the strap. Off the go, Gavin flashed Russell straight across to claim the overall award and MVP honors. Gavin said only that he felt good after the tournament and attributed all of his success in the sport to his trainer, Frank Malis.

Malis, a decorated puller with superb hand strength, says Gavin's hard work has helped him rise through the ranks of his weight class locally. "The guy (Gavin) is always there for practice and always gives 200 percent," said Malis, a professional in the 176lb weight class. "Greg gets to a point in practice where it is almost annoying because he pulls every single match like he is trying to win a world championship. But I guess that is how he has come so far."

With Gavin and Sorrese earning all of the points for Long Island, they managed to take home third place in the team competition. A strong showing from the Connecticut team in the featherweight, middleweight, super-heavyweight and women's open class secured the victory for Team Connecticut and the hometown boys from the Bronx had to settle for second.



‘The King from Queens’
Middle-Weight Overpowers All Comers in

Jason Vale Takes ‘King Of Arms’ Crown from Super-Heavyweight
In Fierce “David Vs. Goliath” Showdown
Cynthia Yerby is Queen for third straight year

Manhattan, NY. March 23, 2002. -- In a gripping display of raw power, Bellerose resident Jason Vale, a two-time national champion, first swept to victory in the 175 lb. Middle Weight class, then went on to oust last year’s ‘NYC King of Arms’ Jerry Cadorette, a 6’ 3” 270 lb. titan, in a boisterous double-elimination final, which gave Vale the MVP title in the all-pro Intrepid ‘NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXV’.   Cadorette, from South Attleboro MA, had just defended his title to win in the Super Heavy Weight class by defeating runner-up Dan Fortuna, of Wading River, LI, who was second, and Skip Hasbrouck of Cropseyville, NY, took third place.

Before a packed crowd rooting for their favorites aboard the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum Ship, pros from many states and countries battled New York’s own impressive home-grown talent in an atmosphere tinged with emotion, because the venue for the same event last March was the “Top of the World’ Observatory at the World Trade Center.  Thus a portion of today’s entry fees will be donated to the Twin Towers Fund, the New York Arm Wresting Association (NYAWA) announced.  This marks the event’s 25th anniversary year in the Big Apple.

A Team Championship title was awarded to the pros representing the NYC borough of Queens helped by Vale, from Bellerose, and Mike Selearis from Elmhurst, and several other second and third place Queens’s winners in the 11 weight classes.  Selearis took the 200 lb. Heavy Weight class title in a hard-fought battle against Ray Darling, second place (who ruled the Master’s 45+ Class field today), and Edwin Safarian of Bayside, Queens, who won third place in a close contest.  Last year’s champion heavy weight, Bobby Buttafuocco, who also had a 14-year run as the undefeated Super-Heavy Weight, did not compete in today’s event. 

Darling, from Cropseyville, NY, not only swept the Master Open Weight (age 45+) competition, with Marty Soven from Woodside Queens in second and Frank Malis of West Islip, LI, third, but Darling also was crowned today as the NYC Pro Arm Wrestler of the Year, an honor granted to an all-around great competitor with top sportsmanship who proves his mettle year-round.  In the team competition, Turkey, with three top competitors, took second place and the New York State team (areas outside NYC and Long Island) was third, after tallying all winning points won in the eleven weight-class categories.


The King from Queens

Part II

Among the women pros, Cynthia Yerby from Wolf, Oklahoma, was crowned as NYC Queen of Arms after flash pinning {winning in a second} over CT. champion Arlene Sargent in an overall match.  Yerby, the three-time NYC Queen of Arms & 5 time World champion had also defeated Dina Fortuna of Wading River, LI, to win the Women’s Open, one of the three women’s weight classes.  The once reigning Queen of Arms, Christine Scheurich from the Bronx had been a 12-time champion, but failed in her comeback attempt today after a four-year hiatus.

In the 175 lb. Middle Weight class that Vale won before taking on the giants in later matches, two cousins from Brazil, Carlos Ferriera and Fernando Ferriera put in a good showing to win second and third place, respectively.  In the 150 lb. Light Weight class, a super star from Turkey, Gukhan Calisirisci, defeated Patrick Baffa of Bayside, Queens, an 11-time Borough titleholder, placed second; third place went to Anthony Navaretta of Syosset, LI.   Engin Terzi, a well-known World Champion from Turkey, and defending NYC champion in the 150 lb. light weight class, couldn’t compete due to recent surgery on his right arm, so he instead competed and won first place in the 175 lb Left Hand Weight class which he also won last year.   In the 132 lb. Feather Weight class, Robert Rodriquez, last year’s Bronx Borough Champion, beat Joel Berquin, the Brooklyn Borough Champion, Fabian Cortez of Jamaica, Queens, took third.  

In the 175 lb. Left Hand weight class, Fernando Ferriera of Brazil came in second behind Terzi and Erkan Ilbaik of Turkey was third.   In the Left-Hand Open weight class, last year’s champ, Mike Selearis fell to Mauricio Barbosa, a former World Champion from Brazil, now living in New Jersey, who totally dominated his event.  Barbosa was disqualified from the right hand Super Heavy Weight event because he came in too late.  Dan Fortuna, who had won second place as a Super Heavy Weight, added to his winnings by coming in third as a left-hander. 

In the two other women’s events, Arlene Sargent of Bristol, CT, (a Can-Am Champion in Canadian-American competition) dominated the field in the 135 Lb Middle Weight class, beating Susan Fischer of Fairless Hills, PA, second place winner, and Marissa Wager of Cropseyville, NY, in third place. In the women’s 120 Lb. Light Weight class, Tina Gaita of Jackson Heights, Queens, took first place, with Roxy Toporwych of Brooklyn in second, and Mijung Choi of Woodside, Queens, third.

Gene Camp, NYAWA President and emcee for today’s matches, characterizes today’s contests as “one of the best ever Pro Championship in our 25 years, with a packed captive audience, strong matches and a fabulous Intrepid setting.”  Protech Nutrition, Marine Manifold Corp. and Gladiator Health Clubs sponsored the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXV.

The NYAWA will conduct a companion event for amateur arm wrestlers, the “NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® XXV part 2”, on Thursday, April 18th at Laser Park, 138 W. 49th St in Manhattan.  This is one qualifying event in the NYAWA’s New York Golden Arm Series, sponsored by NYC’s Department of Parks & Recreation, which takes place over the spring and summer at park, beach and other venues in the five boroughs and on Long Island.  Top finalists then compete in the NYAWA’s Empire State Championship in the fall.   The top finishers in today’s events and other Class A competitors may not compete in those amateur contests. 

NYAWA has sponsorship opportunities for all its pro and amateur events. Prospective new competitors, sponsors and fans may call Camp at (718) 544-4592 or visit the website for event schedules, results and other information.      ##



Wilson, Prichard, Gelencser and Morgan take top honors

Sponsored by: Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware

MANHATTAN, NY. Nov. 10, 2001.  More than 75 top contenders competed in the Empire State ‘Golden Arm’ Tournament of Champions on Saturday, November 10, 2001, at The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan. The double-elimination championship for men and women in eight weight classes drew a maximum [standing room only] captive audience. 

After two “NY Golden Arm Series preliminary championships were cancelled (Manhattan and Staten Island) following the September 11 tragedy, this year’s Championship was changed to an “open” event for both the qualifiers and new contenders who wanted to compete.

Today’s male and female MVP awards and the “NYC Arm Wrestler of the Year” – were presented “In Memory of Steven Cafiero, Jr.,” by his fiancé, Donnamarie Striano.  Cafiero was a Whitestone, Queens resident and long-time arm wrestler and member of the New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA). Cafiero had perished in the 9-11 WTC attack.  The 2001 Empire State Championship was a memorial event honoring Steven Cafiero Jr. and all those who died that day.

Last year’s 150 Lb. Empire State Champion, Harry Wilson of Brooklyn, took first place once again by defending his title. Wilson was named the “NYC Arm Wrestler of the Year” for his accumulated feats in winning more than twelve championships in six years.  Wilson defeated Kazim “Kevin” Asliyuksek, now a Brooklyn resident who had honed his skills and won titles in his native Turkey, where arm wrestling is a popular sport.  Newtown High School student Andrew Kendall who lives in Elmhurst (Queens) came in third.

Matt Prichard of Adamsville PA, who weighs 400 lbs, earned the MVP Award by blasting away the field in both the Right and Left hand Super-Heavy Weight Contests.  Shaun Freeman of Maspeth (Queens) NY was second and Bill Halka of Tuxedo, NY, third in the right hand event, and in the left-hand contest, Safarian was second and Freeman third.

NYC Hunter College Champion, Edwin Safarian from Bayside (Queens) took top honors in the 200 lb. Weight class by beating newcomer Tavares Chattman, an electronics technician from Far Rockaway (Queens) who came in second place and the Queens Borough Champion Greg Gavin, a chef from West Islip (LI), took third place.

In the 175 lb. Middleweight class it was Kriszian Gelencser of College Point (Queens) dominating the field in the right and left hand weight classes  Gelencser came in second in last year’s Finals.  Richard Calerno a personal trainer from the Bronx who gave him stiff competition won second right-handed and Joseph Nelson from East Islip (LI) came in third.  Gelencser also came in first in the 175 lb. Left-Hand class, beating Cortland College student Bill Bennett of Levittown (LI) who was second and Calerno who settled for third.

In the Feather-Weight 132 lb. Class it was Joel Berquin, a salesman from Brooklyn who had won as Brooklyn Borough Championship earlier this year in first place.  Berquin out-powered Newtown High School student Devin Worrell of Corona (Queens) who placed second and Forest Hills High School student Peter Wang of Elmhurst (Queens) who was third.

In the women’s contest the 1999 Empire State Champion Sybil Morgan, who is a supervisor for the NYC Transit Authority and lives on Staten Island, returned from being sidelined for over a year with an injury.  Morgan clearly dominated over a field of seven challengers and remained unbeaten throughout the day.  Morgan was also named today as the female MVP.  Erin Stellmon an artist from LI City (Queens) won second place and photographer Bonni Marcus from Brooklyn, who won the ‘Kingsboro’ Championship in August, was third.

Queens won the Team Championship scoring 39 points followed by Brooklyn with 18 points and Pennsylvania was third with 14 points.

The “NY Queen of Arms” title for the entire year’s overall best performance went to Cynthia Yerby of Wolf, Oklahoma, and the “NY King of Arms” title went to Jerry Cadorette of Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Neither competed in the Empire State Finals because they are “pros” and will not compete again until next March 2002 in the NYAWA’s NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® World ‘OPEN’ Championships, which is open to the first place winners of today’s Empire State Finals, as well as world-class pros around the world.  Last year’s NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® World Championship was held at the WTC’s “Top of the World” Observatory.  The NYAWA is seeking a new Manhattan venue and a corporate sponsor of that March event.  Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware in Manhattan sponsored the Empire State Championship this year.

For more information on sponsoring or entering NYAWA’s events, visit its website at, or call Gene Camp at {718} 544-4592.  ###


Orchard Beach, Bronx, NY. June 30, 2001. Growing in stature and fame with each outing, “The Arm-Wrestling Fortuna Family” from Wading River, LI, collectively scored big again in the Bronx last Saturday at the 18th Annual ‘BRONXBORO’ Golden Arm Championships.

Dan Fortuna, his wife Dina, and their 13 year old daughter Amanda, simply pounded the competition and scored 28 points to add to a totaled 35 points scored for the Long Island Team and tied for first place with the Queens Team who also scored 35 points. The Bronx Championship, drawing more than 100 competitors from the tri-state area, was held June 30, 2001 on the main stage at the Orchard Beach Pavilion. The event was presented by The City of New York Dept. of Parks & Recreation, sponsored by The Anheuser-Busch ‘180’ Energy Drink and supervised by The New York Arm Wrestling Association {NYAWA}.

Dan Fortuna won both the right and left hand super heavy weight titles, defeating nineteen contestants, and with that effort captured the Most Valuable Player Award. Dan’s wife Dina, who was last year’s ‘Kingsboro’ and Empire State Champion, beat four challengers on Saturday to take home the Women’s Open ‘Bronxboro’ Championship. Their daughter Amanda took top honors by winning the Women’s middle weight 135lb- and -under class and was crowned the day’s MVP award winner. Amanda also won the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® at the Top of The World Trade Center last March by defeating Empire State Champion Liz Sanchez from the Bronx. The BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® is NYC's Most Prestigious Professional Arm Wrestling Championship.

Each of the Fortunas has all qualified for this year’s New York Golden Arm Series Empire State Championship, to be held at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Oct. 11, 2001.

Other ‘BRONXBORO Champions include: 132 lb. Class Robert Rodriguez from Manhattan; 150lb. James Retarides from Milford Ct.; 175lb. Krisztian Gelencser from College Point, Queens; 200lb. Edwin Safarian from Bayside, Queens (who is only 17 years old and was named last year's 2000 Arm Wrestler of the year); and the 175lb. left hand class went to Angle Cosme from Flushing, Queens.

The next scheduled events are the ‘QUEENSBORO’ at 116th Street and Rockaway Beach on July 15, 2001; the Long Island Golden Arm championship in Long Beach in August; the ‘KINGSBORO’ at Coney Island Beach and 12th Street on August 4, 2001; the Long Island Pro Sit-Down at The Waldbaum’s Balloon Festival in Shirley LI. on August 19, 2001; and the ‘MANHATTANBORO’ Championship at the Columbus Ave Festival and 86th Street. For more events and information call Gene Camp at {718} 544-4592 or visit the NYAWA website at: ###



Manhattan, NY April 3, 2001. Defeating all comers in both right- and left-handed events, Erik Giliberti of Brooklyn handily captured the super heavy weight title and the days MVP award. The event was the amateur portion of the two-part NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II, held at the high-tech Broadway City Arcade on NYC's 42nd Street. Surprisingly, Giliberti's dominance came after a year of sitting out all competitive events.

Jayme Fernandez, 17, of Sayville LI, who won her first title at age 14 and similarly was sidelined for a year, came back today to swamp the women's field by flash-pinning [winning in a second] newcomer, Erin Stellman of Long Island City, Queens. Fernandez also captured the third MVP award of her career. Jennifer Griffith of the Bronx placed third, to Stellman's second place win.

All winners were decided in a double-elimination, best two-of-three-matches format. The team championship went to Brooklyn, based on a residency point tally. Queens was second and Long Island third. Spectators included partisan fans, friends and family of contestants, and equally vocal passersby. The crowd added excitement to many of the day's matches and most events seemed to establish an audience-selected 'underdog' and 'favorite.'

The super heavy-weight open class also elevated Eric Russell of Wappinger Falls, NY, to second place behind Giliberti, and James Babcock of Hackensack, NJ, was third. Giliberti's left-handed opponents were Jason Colon of West Sayville, LI, in second and Jeff Geremia of West Haven, CT, in third. In the 200 lb. weight class, Geremia won first place decisively, making him another two-handed power in the sport. In second place was Pete Bergman, a Manhattanite and former Borough Champion. Greg Gavin of West Islip, LI, was third.

Today's event kicks off the New York Golden Arm Series eighth season, in which preliminary amateur events are held in each of the five boroughs, Long Island and upstate New York. The eight event series will lead up to the Empire State Championship Finals on October 11, 2001. Today's first-through-third place winners will automatically qualify for the Finals to be held at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.


Giliberti and Fernandez return

In the middle weight class, top honors went to Kristian Gelenlser of College Point, Queens, who was second in last years Empire State finals and favored to win today, but Joe Rovere from Staten Island, tied the contest by winning the second match as the audience and noise overpowered the room. But , Rovere lost the next match and had to settle for second place. 15 year old Jonathan Merolla of Valley Stream, LI, was third.

In the light-weight class (150 lb.), 18 year old Marwin Rogue of Elmhurst, Queens, held off a challenge and won first place, defeating Sandeep Kumar of Richmond Hill who took second. In third place was Jermaine Reyes of Ridgewood, Queens.

The remaining men's class, the middle weight left-handed open, saw Tony Capote of Union City, NJ winning over Harry Wilson from Brooklyn, who won the right hand Empire State Championship and placed second in last weeks right hand pro championships. Wilson faired well in his first left hand competition. John Papaioannou of Astoria, Queens, placed third.

A second event for women, the 135 lb. middle weight class, featured a tense back-and-forth match between Tara Malis of West Islip, LI, and Azizi Figueroa of Brooklyn, who prevailed even though Malis tied it up in the finals. Figueroa maintained a stone-faced concentration, throughout the day. Karoline Rodriquez of the Bronx took third.

Marine Manifold Corporation of East Farmingdale, LI, was the event's sponsor. Its owner, Frank Malis had won the Masters (age 45+) 175 lb. class at the earlier Pro championship event of the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II, and his daughter competed today.

The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA), has been staging amateur and pro events for over 24 years. Part I of the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II all pro championships was held on March 29, 2001- at the Top-of-the-World Trade Center observatories.

NYAWA has another 12 scheduled events this year in the five boroughs, Long Island and Upstate NY: which features the NY Golden Arm Series and Empire State finals. This event series is for amateurs and beginners who grapple at festivals, beaches, race tracks and major tourist attractions; plus the Fleet Week US team championships at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on May 25, 2001.

For more information call Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592 or visit the NYAWA's website at ###


Manhattan, MARCH 29, 2001 A lighter Bobby Buttafuoco from Rockville Centre Long Island, having dropped one weight class, was unable to defend the super heavy weight title that he had owned for 13 years, and simultaneously passed the NY 'King of Arms' MVP Crown to a new titan, Jerry Cadorette of Attleboro MA., in the gripping all-pro "NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II". Raw power was on display at the 107th floor of the World Trade Center Observatory known as "Top of the World"and featured some of the USA and Europe’s top competitors against New York area talent. Cadorette took the supreme title of 'NY King of Arms' after winning the super heavy weight championship, battling Ray Darling of Cropseyville, NY, who placed second, and Allen Stilkey of Riverside RI., third, then he took on all the first place winners, one by one beating every challenger including Buttafuoco, sending the audience into a screaming and clapping frenzy.

Buttafuoco still captured the title in his new 200 lb. heavy weight class against Kimon Schneider from Switzerland, who took second place, and Elmhurst, Queens Mike Selearis, third place in the most grueling match of the day. For sheer crowd-pleasing guts and tenacity Buttafuoco also won -- hands-down -- the new referees’ choice award named "Winners Never Quit Award." The large spectator audience, about two-thirds of them tourists who chanced on the event, echoed the referees, as they quickly and loudly signaled their favorites, during the fast-paced eight events for men, including two Masters (age 45+) classes, and two classes for women.
Gene Camp, president and the day’s emcee for The New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) termed this BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II "our most successful event ever, in 24 years of our holding pro events. Without any cash prizes, we drew the mightiest arm wrestlers from distant states and overseas to give our homegrown pros their strongest challenges yet."

Indeed the light weight and middle weight men’s classes were dominated by the new faces from abroad -- the 150 lb. weight class was won by Engin Turzi a well known arm wrestling superstar from Turkey. Brooklyn’s Harry Wilson, the Empire State Champion and steady winner of NYAWA events for years, took second place and Milt Christmas of Baltimore, MD, third place. No Americans won in the middle weight 175lb class; instead Vedkhia Samkaradze of Georgia (neighboring Russia) took first place, Kimon Schneider of Switzerland took second and Aydin Zekeryia of Turkey, third. Yet the Team Title -- for tallying the most points in all events - stayed close to home as Long Island won top honors with 24 points, Turkey came in second with 18 points and Upstate New York third with 11 points.


In the two left-hand classes, the lighter 175 lb. class was won by Engin Turzi (won right and left handed); the runners-up as right-handed 175 lb. middle weights took the same category in that left handed class but reversed positions, Zekeryia this time beating Schneider for second spot. First place winner of the left-hand open class was Mike Selearis from Elmhurst, Queens NY (who had earlier placed third as a right-handed heavy weight) dominated the event - fending off Cadorette, third place, and Allen Stilkey of Riverside, RI, the second place winner and a six-time New England region champion entering his first NYAWA event.
For the women, the action was just as intense, as last year's NY Queen of Arms and favorite Cynthia Yerby of Wolf, Oklahoma, decidedly beat Christina Fernandes of Rockaway, NJ. and Monica Wozniak of Sterling, Virginia, and thus, recaptured the "NY Queen of Arms" MVP award. In a surprise win, 13-year old Amanda Fortuna of Wading River, LI, who had placed second in Brooklyn's 'Kingsboro' championship and second in the Empire State Finals, came on strong in an exciting match to beat the favored MVP award winner and Empire State Champion Liz Sanchez from the Bronx, who had won the title last October at the Port Authority Bus Terminal but today, had to settle for second place. Angela Hall of Little Falls, NY who won events on Long Island and Manhattan, took third.
The Masters 45+ Class, a right-handed event, featured Frank Malis from West Islip, LI, who bested the current Masters champion Milt Christmas from Baltimore, MD. in 175 lb. class, while the heavier open masters class was captured once again by Ray Darling from Cropseyville NY., the defending champion, beating challenger Jack Arias of Farmingdale, LI, (second), and Marty Soven of Woodside, Queens (third). Both Christmas and Darling also won medals in their respective weight classes earlier in the day, against a younger field.

Marine Manifold Corporation of East Farmingdale, LI, owned by one of the competitors, Frank Malis sponsored the NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® ll. Malis also took first place in the Masters 45+ 175lb.Class. The new venue host -- The Top of the World Trade Center Observatories plans to host the event again in 2002. Camp noted that "The NY King and Queen of Arms and all other first place champions will be back to defend their titles, but as this and other NYAWA events have grown in reputation far afield of New York, the top talent keeps coming in from every state and country to multiply the challenge for the winners."
The NYAWA -- which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year -- has 14 events still left in its 2001 calendar: the second part of "NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® II" for Beginners and Amateurs only is on April 3, 2001 at 1pm at the high-tech Broadway City Arcade at 241 West 42nd Street; the US All-Military team championships held in NYC on May 25th during Fleet Week at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum; and the New York Golden Arm Series for amateurs and beginners, who grapple at festivals, race tracks, beaches and major tourist attractions during the Spring and Summer for titles in each of the five NYC boroughs, Long Island and upstate New York (culminating in the Empire State Finals on October 11, 2001.)
NYAWA has sponsorships open for all New York Golden Arm Series Events and for next year’s "NYC BIG APPLE GRAPPLE® III." Fans, prospective new competitors for preliminary events and organizations interested in sponsorship information may call Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592 and visit NYAWA’s website at ###

Competition In Review

Madison Square Garden

February 4, 2000


Y-2000 New York Arm Wrestling Association Results

For information contact: New York Arm Wrestling Association, Gene Camp (718) 544-4592, Mike Selearis (718) 803-2234 or Marty Soven (718) 446-7088


NY TenDons. February 4, 2000 under the lights of Madison Square Garden's Theater lobby, the arm wrestling community was dealt a shocker: Bobby Buttafuoco, who has never been pinned in a 'NY King of Arms' challenge in 13 years, lost a match. With the coveted title on the line -- which is awarded to the years best overall male armwrestler of the year--Buttafuoco (of Rockville Centre, LI), winner of 13 consecutive titles, lost the first in the best of three matches to up and comer Mike Selearis (of Elmhurst, Queens).

"Everyone was rooting for Selearis and when he won, the place went nuts" commented Gene Camp, President of the New York Armwrestling Association (NYAWA). "It wasn't easy, but Selearis did it" In fact, the Buttafuoco-Selearis battle was a tough match that lasted about 30 seconds, an eternity for an armwrestling match. After the defeat, however, Buttafuoco was not finished, since armwrestling combatants are required to win the best of three matches to capture New York's most prestigious arm wrestling honor.

Earlier in the day Buttafuoco had grappled through mostly easy matches to win the super heavyweight championship, his 13th title. Just before the awards ceremony the announcer explained that the NY 'king of Arms' title was up for grabs among the first place winners. Two challengers came forward, the 175 pound champion Carlos Ferreira who was beaten easily by Buttafuoco and then came Selearis who surprised and shocked the audience by winning the first match. But, just before the much anticipated second matchup, the exhausted Buttafuoco requested that the decisive match be postponed. With Selearis not objecting, Camp moved the date of the match to March 25, to become part of the NYAWA slate of events at the New York Sports Experience Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Selearis, a school teacher when he is not grappling, was also a big winner in the day's earlier events, winning the heavyweight 200 pound division's title as well as the super-heavyweight left handed championship. "He's the hottest armwrestler in the country, who wins both left and right-handed" exclaimed Camp. "He just came back from winning two championships in North Carolina". In the 200 pound class, last years champion, Jason Vale (Whitestone Queens), who had held the title for nine straight years was unable to compete due to a mandatory court appearance.

In other matches, Craig Saputo (Farmingville, LI) beat Benji Dwyer (Esperance, NY) in the 132 pound category. "Usually Saputo flash pins his opponents" said Camp. "But Dwyer gave him a run for his money; however in the end it was no contest." What's Saputo's secret? "I think Saputo has a lot of mind power," Camp suggested.

In the 150 pound class, Ralph Smith (Little Falls, NY) beat Fernando Ferreira (Harrison, NJ) who with his dyed blond hair is armwrestling's version of Dennis Rodman- to take the title. It was a struggle to win for Smith. Ferreira, who learned the armwrestling craft in his native Brazil, was fuming after the match. With his family there, he stomped around a bit. "He certainly does not like to lose," Camp offered. However, the Ferreira clan did not go home empty handed. Carlos Ferreira (Newark, NJ), Fernandos cousin, toppled the highly favored Steve Bennet (Allentown, Pa). the Ferreira family seeing how favored Bennet was going in, jumped nonstop when their man won.

In the 45+ Master's Class, 16 year veteran referee Jack Arias (Farmingdale, LI) beat Ray Darling (Cropseyville, NY). Arias had been training with the NYAWA 'Brutal Rubber Band' tendon exerciser device for over a year," says Camp. "Darling was heavily favored going in. Honestly, I did not even think Arias would place, but he surprised me to the limits," Camp remarked. The 3 year Master 45+ champion Stan Banford from Wales, Ma came in fourth place.

Other winners included: Roy Ramsland (Huntington Station, LI) who won the first ever left-handed 175 pound category. The slender Michelle Romeo (Bayside Queens) won the women's 135 pound weight class over Deborah Nocella (Elmont, LI). Eleven year in a row champion Christine Scheurich from the Bronx was unable to compete due to her daughter's sudden illness that morning. Jayme Fernandez (Sayville, LI) was the big female winner of the day. At age 16, she won her second "New York Queen of Arms" title beating veteran Sybil Morgan (Staten Island, NY). In the team category, Long Island took top honors.

The NYAWA has a full schedule of events planned for this year starting with the March 24th-26th New York Sports Experience Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which will feature both pro and amateur championships in addition to the Buttafuoco-Selearis finishing their title match at the Javits Center, NYAWA will kick off its all new pro team, the New York Tendons The team, featuring the the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of last Friday's MSG event, will challenge any world class teams from across the US, Canada and beyond. In addition, at the Javits Center, NYAWA will launch the new season for its New York Golden Arm Series, nine events that are held at major festivals, fairs, racetracks and amusement parks throughout the spring and summer, with the Y-21 Finals back at the Garden next February. In may, the NYAWA will hold the Fleet week All-Military Team Championship at the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum at the invitation of the US-Navy. The NY TenDons team and all of this year's NYAWA events invite inquiries about corporate, brand, and charitable organizational sponsorships. For more information, contact Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592.


© 2009 The New York Arm Wrestling® Association, all rights reserved.