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.

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