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.



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