Photo courtesy of Gene Camp New York Arm Wrestling Association
East Patchogue father and son enjoy arm wrestling
When Gary Gallo and his son, Gary, discovered a new athletic activity to share, they quickly gained success.
The two men, who live in East Patchogue, are newcomers to arm wrestling and early in August, they each earned a first-place finish.
The elder Gallo, who celebrated his 63rd birthday on Wednesday, led 77 male and female competitors to grab the overall MVP award during the 37th annual Queensboro Arm-Wrestling Championship at the Cheap Shots Sports Bar in Flushing. Winning six duels, he also won the Masters’ Open division (ages 50 and over) for right-handed men.
The younger Gallo, who is 37 years old and a former football player for Bellport High School, won the super heavyweight division for right-handed men (weighing 225 pounds and above).
“The bottom line is, I really like the sport,” said the elder Gallo, a sturdy 5 feet 11 inches and 215 pounds. “I wish I had gotten involved a long time ago. It feels great to beat the younger guys. I felt I was stronger than them. I didn’t realize it would be this enjoyable.”
After researching arm wrestling on websites and also watching a Sylvester Stallone movie, “Over The Top” (a film about an arm-wrestling champion determined to impress his son), the Gallo men looked for organized events.
“I got the idea … and the first time I did it organized [was in April],” said the elder Gallo. “When I was younger, like everybody else, I did it in bars.”
During his younger days, the 1969 graduate of Bellport High School worked for his father at the Gallo Duck Farm on Gazzola Drive. He said his family once raised as many as 300,000 ducks a year.
“I think I got most of my strength working on the duck farm … I can bench-press 300 pounds,” he said. For the last 20 years, he’s operated a dump truck hauling asphalt.
Besides a powerful grip, he needs swift reactions. He works out to build strength in his upper body (his back and shoulders) and his legs for balance, a stance square to the padded table.
At the Queens tournament, he pinned his opponents in 5 to 8 seconds. In his third organized event, he paid a $20 entry fee. He got a plaque and T-shirt, praise from his wife, Donna, but no prize money.
“The referee makes sure the grip is right and [you have to] look right at the guy,” he said. After hearing ‘ready, go!’ he pounces.
“If you are a split-second slow, you will lose,” said the elder Gallo. “I am trying to get psyched, focused. It is like running a race, getting fired up and go.”
With his success, he moves up to the New York State championships in November.
“I don’t know how much longer I will go; a couple of more years,” he said. “Who knows? I will see how I feel.”
The younger Gallo, who operates heavy equipment, joined his father to build an arm wrestling table, with a steel frame and plywood and vinyl, to practice their skills.
“After we went to the first tournament, we got hooked,” said the 240-pound younger Gallo. “I like the excitement, the one-on-one of the matches. You have to be quick; faster than the other guy. A lot of the matches are quick [to end].”
Both the Gallo men, who live near each other in East Patchogue, complimented the sportsmanship and the friendly atmosphere at the event, which was organized by Gene Camp, the founder and president of the New York Arm Wrestling Association.
Sometimes, the father and son will get a grip to train with each other.
“I am glad [my father] is doing well at his age,” said the younger Gallo. “I am happy to see it.”
His son, 12-year-old Nickolas, attends Bellport Middle School and sometimes he arm wrestles at the lunch table.
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