Check Out Videos, Interviews and Photos from the Victory 4 Vinny Vespa Event, Including the "Flying Squirrel"

Close to 400 wrestlers took the mat on Saturday at Monroe Woodbury High School for the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament to benefit Crusader freshman Vinny Vespa in his battle with cancer.

One of the many highlights was a match that Vinny was able to watch between his brother Michael Vespa and his high school teammate AJ Voelker in which Michael Vespa utilized the “Flying Squirrel”, made famous by U.S. Olympian Ellis Coleman.

Below, check out videos and photos from the event and video interviews with Vinny Vespa, Michael Vespa, Hofstra starter Jamie Franco and 2012 New York State placer Johnny Stramiello.

And, check out Vespa’s version of the Flying Squirrel here:


Interview with Vinny Vespa: “Still Lifting, Still Working Out”


For photos of the event, see:


Full match: Michael Vespa vs. AJ Voelker


Exhibition: Jamie Franco vs. Johnny Stramiello


Interview with Michael Vespa: “The Turnout is Awesome”


Interview with Hofstra’s Jamie Franco: “Everybody Keep Helping Vinny”


Jamie Franco vs. Kevin Mannix:


Interview with 3x Section 9 Champ and NY State Placer Johnny Stramiello: “Anything for Vinny”


Adam Swift vs. Warwick coach Phil Szumlaski


Wrestling 4 Vinny's Victory: More Than 350 To Participate in Takedown Tournament To Benefit Vinny Vespa

Vinny Vespa Poster;

Last weekend, Vinny Vespa attended the Adam Frey Classic in Pennsylvania where in addition to receiving the Courageous Wrestler Award, he saw some of the nation’s best wrestling talent compete to benefit the Adam Frey Foundation.

On Saturday June 30, he will once again get an opportunity to watch great wrestling, but this time, it will be to support him in his battle with Lymphoma at the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament at Monroe Woodbury High School, beginning at 8 a.m.

“The thing I’m most excited about is for Vinny to see how many supporters he has,” said Michael Vespa, Vinny’s older brother. “It will be awesome when he walks in and sees how many people came out to benefit him and how many people are on the mats wrestling just for him.”

Indeed, the mats will be busy, as close to 400 wrestlers signed up, according to one of the event’s organizers, Bob Voelker.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Voelker said. “Registration really exploded over the last week – it’s fantastic.”

The registration includes a wide range of competitors.  There are accomplished grapplers like Hofstra’s Jamie Franco, former junior college All-American Nick Rausenberger and at least five 2012 New York State placers.  And on the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of people like Voelker’s son Troy, a former high school football player who doesn’t have experience on the mat.

“Troy hasn’t wrestled before but he wants to help; wants to do something to be a part of the event,” Bob Voelker said.  “There are a bunch of people like that.  They just want to show support to Vinny.”

The variability in registrants goes beyond experience in the sport.  There are youth wrestlers participating as well as seven entrants over the age of 55.  In addition, at least five states will be represented, with one Monroe Woodbury alum flying up from Florida to take part.

While Vinny Vespa won’t wrestle, his brothers Michael and Marco (a NHSCA Middle School National Champion) will.  For Michael, who took some time off after high school, it’s an ideal opportunity to return to competition.

“Honestly, it’s amazing,” Michael Vespa said. “It will be my first time back on the mat in years and it’s for my brother at my high school, wearing a singlet that says my brother’s name on it.  It’s inspiring.”

But the event will offer much more than just wrestling action. There will be family fun activities such as a dunking booth, bounce castles and face painting as well as a barbecue and a number of raffles. In addition, other entities, such as Cookies for Cancer, will be selling goods to benefit the Vespa family.

“The unbelievable amount of support has overwhelmed me,” Voelker said. “It has restored my faith in people.  It amazes me how many people have come forward. The support and love of the wrestling community has been truly remarkable.”

Michael Vespa believes that support and love will be on full display on Saturday.

“I think there will be something for everyone,” he said. “I hope people will come out to see my brother and enjoy a day of fun with some great wrestling.  I know that it will mean a lot to Vinny in his battle.”

For more information, please see the event flyer:


"All the Motivation and Inspiration in the World": Vinny Vespa Update and Upcoming Events and Fundraisers

Vinny Vespa Poster by Phototrens

Vinny Vespa wasn’t at the Beat the Streets event in New York City last Thursday, but he was on the minds of those in attendance.

“When people found out I was Vinny’s brother, they approached me and asked about him,” said Michael Vespa, Vinny’s older sibling, mentioning conversations with some well known names in wrestling including Kyle Dake, Dan Gable, Jake Herbert and Logan Steiber.

“So many of them are people my brother would have loved to meet and they were asking about him.  I couldn’t believe that five minutes before going on the mat to try to make the Olympic team, Coleman Scott took the time to talk. The support from the wrestling community is amazing.”

“Amazing” is a word Michael Vespa also used to describe Vinny’s handling of his treatments for Stage 4 cancer.  While the Times Square wrestling action began, Vinny Vespa was busy finishing up his third session of chemotherapy in the hospital.

“By this time, people usually get really sick with nausea and fatigue,” Michael Vespa said. “But the chemo hasn’t gotten to Vinny as much as we thought. He’s making it easy on everybody else because I don’t think he has complained once or said anything negative about the therapy. He’s doing some lifting and hanging out.”

Of course, he would like to be wrestling.  Michael Vespa said his brother was hoping to step on the mat on June 30 at Monroe Woodbury High School for the Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament.  While that won’t be possible, Vinny will be in attendance.

“We’re trying to get as many people as possible to be there,” Michael Vespa said.  “Vinny won’t be able to go out too much this summer, but that will be one day he’ll be out, interacting with people.  We’d love to see a lot of wrestlers participate in the tournament and we’d love to have other people come to support the cause and enjoy the day.”

The event will feature several family fun activities, including face painting and bounce houses for children.  And of course, some wrestling.

“I see it as a stress-free tournament and opportunity to get on the mat,” Michael Vespa said. “It’s a round robin with several divisions for all kinds of wrestlers.  I’ll be competing in the Open division.”

For Michael Vespa it will serve as a warmup for the fall when he returns in full force to the sport he and his family love, possibly at Nassau.   Recent events have moved him to get back on the mat and in the classroom.

“I’m looking to go back to school next year and wrestle,” he said. “I wasn’t satisfied with how I ended my career at Johnson and Wales and I have three and a half years of eligibility left.  I feel really inspired. The same day Vinny got diagnosed, a kid I’d been training took a bad fall in a match and was put in a neck brace for 12 weeks. Same day, same hospital.  If he and Vinny can’t wrestle, I’ll do it for them.  I miss it and I want to get my education.  I have all the motivation and inspiration in the world right now.”

Adding to that inspiration was a plaque that Vinny recently received, a familiar one for the Vespa family.  At the Monroe Woodbury Awards Dinner, Vinny Vespa was named the school’s Male Freshman Athlete of the Year, an honor Michael received a few years ago.

“It was a great honor, we were all really excited,” Michael Vespa said.  “Vinny had a great year and deserved it.  Things like that help in a tough time.  Our family is trying to make the best of the situation.  We’re grateful for all the people who have stepped up and helped.  That includes a lot of help from the wrestling community.  We believe he’ll get through this.”


There are several ways to help the Vespa Family.  In addition to the June 30 Takedown Tournament, Gaglione Strength is holding a Strength Competition on June 24 in Farmingdale.  Please see below for more details and ways to offer assistance:

Victory 4 Vinny Wrestling Strength Challenge at Gaglione Strength June 24, 9 am 

When: Sunday June 24th Check in at 9am;  Event Starts at 9:15 and will will be finished before 11:45am

Where: Gaglione Strength 32 Allen Boulevard, Farmingdale, NY, 11735 Additional Parking available on Baiting Place road

What: Three Strength Challenges to Support Vinny Vespa

$20 Registration Fee (additional donations will be accepted)

All proceeds will go to aid in Vinny’s fight against cancer

T-Shirts to All Competitors; Prizes for Contest Winners

Limited to the first 40 who sign up

Registration Deadline June 20th

To register or for more details on this event, please go to:

Or watch this video:


Victory 4 Vinny Takedown Tournament at Monroe Woodbury High School June 30, 8 am – 6 pm 

The tournament will have elementary, middle school, high school and open divisions and potentially even a masters division.  All proceeds will go directly to the Vespa Family to help Vinny in his battle.  The registration cost will be $20 (USA Wrestling cards not required).  In addition to the wrestling, there will be a Family Fun Day with face painting, cotton candy, bounce castles, etc.

For more information, check out the event flyer:


If you can’t attend the events, consider helping the cause by purchasing Vinny V Items:

Team Vinny V T-Shirts, developed by Forever Fierce, can be purchased by contacting

Team Vinny V singlets, are available for $80 ($30 goes to the Vespa Family) by contacting Mike Skokos at (845) 416-2337