For Information Contact: Gene Camp - (718) 544-4592 

E-mail: - Website: NewYorkArmWrestling.Com

New ‘Empire State’ Champions Crowned with GOLDEN ARMS

Proud Sponsor is White Castle Hamburgers

Freeman and Looney win Strongest Arm MVPs,

 Long Island Grabs Team Title   



Manhattan, NY. Nov. 13, 2003 --- Returning title holders and hungry contenders shared the winners’ circle in Thursday’s Empire State ‘Golden Arm' Tournament of Champions XXVI. The event was sponsored by White Castle Hamburgers and held at the North Wing/Main Concourse of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.  Thousands of spectators -- including die-hard fans and passing commuters cheered for both the favorites and underdogs during the typically short one-second to one minute plus matches.   The new Super-Heavyweight Open champion was Shaun Freeman of Maspeth, Queens, who dominated the class and went on to beat all challengers who won first place in their respective weight classes. Freeman was crowned with the day’s Golden Arm MVP Award for his efforts.  In all, there were eight weight classes for men, including a 45+ years old open Masters Class and an open weight class for women. This much-anticipated final is the oldest and most prestigious amateur arm-wrestling title event in New York State. A series of qualifying tournaments were held in each of the five NYC Boroughs, Long Island and Upstate New York, and since there are no residency requirements, contestants from out of state also qualified for today’s championships.


Richard Calero, a personal trainer from the Bronx and a tough and versatile arm wrestler who is also Shaun Freeman’s training partner, entered four of the classes, taking first place in the Left–Hand 175-lb. Class, second in the same class right-handed, and third when he competed against bigger men in the 200 pound heavyweight class.  He was a close runner-up for today’s NYC Arm Wrestler of the Year award, which ultimately went to Dan Sorrese of West Islip, LI.  Sorrese, a highway maintenance supervisor is a past MVP titleholder, he came through with fierce matches against Calero and second-place winner Kristztian Gelencser of College Point, Queens, who was an Empire State Champion two years ago and had won the ‘Arm Star’ Award. (Given to contestants that win right and left-handed championships.) 


Runners-up in the Super-Heavyweight Class were Kevin Nelson, a graphic artist from Holbrook, Long Island, and Frank Marzillo a painting contractor from Bayshore, Long Island.  Last years MVP titleholder, Sean ‘The Rockaway Flash’ Ringgold from Rockaway, Queens, failed to show this year to defend his title.  In the Left-Handed Open Class for 200 lbs. and up, Kevin Nelson captured first place, upsetting Freeman, who was second, and Sorrese, who took third.


In the 175-lb Middleweight Class, last year’s Empire State Champion, Pat ‘Pasquale’ Baffa, a plumber from Whitestone, Queens, held on to his title in hard-fought matches against William Marini who returned after a two-year absence to win the first match against Baffa in the double-elimination contest, but Baffa came back to take the next two from Marini. William Marini a stage-hand from Manhattan ended up in third place to Calero who finished second. The captive audience and even the commuters watching their first tournament, went wild during those quick back-and-forth contests.                


In the 150-lb. Lightweight Class, Vardan Krepyan of Dumont, NJ, won all his matches in the finals against the Staten Island Borough Champion Joe Lagasse of Providence, RI, who was favored to win today, but took third place. The 2003 NYC Big Apple Grapple Champion Gabrial Yak, a college student from Flushing, Queens, came in second. 


In the 132-lb. Featherweight Class, Craig Saputo a newspaper pressman from Farmingville, LI, won every match after he returned from a five-year injury-induced absence,.  Manhattan Borough Champion Chris Sciarappa from Seymour, CT, was second, and a newcomer, Vinny Calderone a cabinet-maker from Brookhaven, LI, who won first place last summer at the Long Island Scottish Games, was third today.


Richard Calero won the Left-Hand 175-lb Class handily and second place went to Andrew Kendall, the MVP winner for the high school level tournament, which he has dominated for two straight years; Kendall is part of the champion team from Newtown High School in Queens.  Yak, who placed second in the 150-lb Class right-handed, placed third in this left-handed contest.


In the one Women’s Open Class, Cindy Looney, a store manager from Milford, CT, was first-place winner and crowned the Women’s MVP. She climbed back after being beaten once by the second-place winner, 22 year-old Camille Burford, an actress from Manhattan, who had won last July’s ‘Kingsboro’ Championship in Coney Island, Brooklyn.  Araksya Hovsepyan of Dumont, NJ, was third. The crowd loved these heated contests. Last year’s titleholder among the women was Dina Fortuna who sat out this year, as did the rest of her arm-wrestling family of winners.


In the Master’s Open Class for men 45+ years and up, Frank Marzillo of Bayshore, LI, who owns a painting business, beat last year’s champion, Michael Degraffendreid a NYC Parks Dept. Supervisor from South Ozone Park, Queens, captured third place and Wilfredo Velez of Rockaway, Queens, came in second.


The Team Championship went to Long Island, which by a few points unseated Queens for this year’s team championship honors. Today’s winners in first, second and third places all received handsome White Castle Arm Wrestling Plaques and certificates.


On March 20th, 2004, all today’s first place winners are invited to enter the NYC Big Apple Grapple Pro USA-International Championships to be held at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in Manhattan.  The NYAWA welcomes additional sponsors to inquire about planned events for the 2004-05 year, which includes the 2004 NYC ‘Golden Arm’ Series, staged at street festivals, beaches, racetracks,  events at upstate NY and Long Island venues, events for High Schools and Colleges, and the Fleet Week (in NYC) US Military Championship.  For photos, results, and membership information and much more, visit the NYAWA website at: or call Gene Camp at (718) 544-4592.   ###


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