Reminder: Victory 4 Vinny Challenge at Gaglione Strength This Weekend To Benefit Vinny Vespa

This Sunday the Victory 4 Vinny Wrestling Strength Challenge will take place at Gaglione Strength in Farmingdale.  The proceeds will go to Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa as he battles Stage 4 cancer.

“I am not sure what people know about cancer, but there is no Stage 5,” John Gaglione said when discussing the origin of the event. “Vinny Vespa needs your help.  The battle with cancer is going to be his toughest battle yet and he needs our support.”

To show your support (and your strength), see all the essential details below:

When: Sunday June 24th at 9 a.m. (Check in).  The event starts at 9:15 sharp and will be finished before 11:45 a.m.
Where: Gaglione Strength, 32 Allen Boulevard, Farmingdale, NY, 11735. Additional Parking available on Baiting Place Road
What: Three Strength Challenges (see more information below) to support Vinny Vespa

$20 Registration Fee; Additional donations will be accepted and ALL proceeds will go to aid Vinny’s fight

T-Shirts to All Competitors
Prizes for Contest Winners
Limited to the first 40 who sign up

What are the strength challenges?  Learn more about them here:

Monkey Bar & Pull Up Challenge Max Distance

Must perform a pull up at every rung. At the turn you must perform a pull up before and after the turning point. Max distance wins. In the event of a tie, the heavier body weight will win.
-Chin must clear the bar at every rung
-Excessive kipping, heaving or swing of the legs is not allowed
-Chalk is allowed; no other grip aids will be permitted

Weighted (4 Chains) Push Ups for Max Reps in a Minute

The athlete will perform weighted push ups with an external resistance of 80 pounds (4 chains). Full depth and lockout will be required. Highest number of reps wins. In the event of a tie, the heavier body weight will win.
– All reps must be full locked out
-All reps will be performed with a full range of motion
-Dumbbells will utilized for push up handles. No other aids will be allowed

48kg Kettlebell Goblet Box Squat Max Reps in a Minute

The athlete will cheat clean (use two hands) a 48kg (106 pounds) kettlebell into the goblet position and perform box squats to a 14 inch box. The maximum number of repetitions will win the event. In the event of a tie, the lower body weight will win.
-Lifter must fully establish control and lockout their hips and knees after every rep
-Lifter must sit onto the box every rep and not crash onto the box
-No lifting belts or aids are allowed for this event

To sign up, go to the link below:


"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

Cancer's Nightmare: Team VinnyV Ready to Battle

By Betsy Veysman

“There’s a theme with Vinny,” Michael Vespa said on Monday night about his 14-year old brother. “He finds a way to win.  That’s the bottom line, no matter how bad it looks, he finds a way to win.”

That’s been true many times over the years.  The freshman from Monroe-Woodbury High is a four-time youth New York state champion who also took third in the country at the NHSCA Middle School Nationals.

As a ninth grader wrestling varsity for the third straight time in 2011-12, Vespa went 31-8, was a Sectional runner up and qualified for the state tournament at 99 pounds while routinely weighing in around 94.  Despite his hard work, however, the grappler often found himself struggling later in bouts with shortness of breath.

Less than two weeks ago, Vinny Vespa achieved a long-time goal when he took first place at the New York State Cadet Freestyle Championships in Binghamton to earn his spot on the Empire State squad going to the national championships in Fargo, North Dakota in July.  He looked forward to the most prestigious event on the summer wrestling calendar, where the competition would be a notch higher than what he has seen before.

However, Vespa will have a far more challenging opponent to face before he steps on the mat again.

“I thought I was going to Fargo to represent New York at nationals,” he said.  “I was really excited.  But I was still having trouble with breathing so I went to the doctor after I won.  That’s when they found the tumor.”

The tumor is believed to be Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“The tumor in Vinny’s lungs compromised his breathing more than 50%, according to the doctors,” his mother said.  “We found it because of wrestling. He was having trouble after the first period.  The doctor explained that once his respiration got up, he was basically working off one lung.  We thought it was a few different things during the season — a new mouthpiece, asthma, bronchitis.  Thank God we found it.”

After digesting the news, Vinny quickly moved into fighting mode.

“When he was diagnosed, he was crushed,” Michael Vespa said.  “But he’s come back with such a vengeance, just like I knew he would.  He’s the type of person that has always been really mature and dedicated. If he wants something, nothing will stop him.  He’s really strong.”

Many would agree with that.  His varsity coach Steve Fischbein says he’s the strongest pound for pound wrestler that he’s ever seen.  At 94 pounds, he squats and deadlifts more than 225 pounds.  The student with the 90 average in school also religiously follows the plans set out for him by trainer John Rahn.  In fact, Michael Vespa said that even in his hospital bed, Vinny is making sure to follow his meal plans and drink his protein shakes.

He’s also finding other ways to make the hospital time tolerable.

“I’m keeping myself busy,” he said.  “[On Monday] 15 people came and we had a little mini party.  We went down to the lobby and had pizza and just hung out.  I played mini golf at a course right outside the hospital with my mom.”

Vinny mentioned that his family has been great, but wanted to specifically mention his mother.

“She hasn’t left my bedside for the past seven days,” he said.  “She’s my number one supporter.”

His extended wrestling family has been there too.  That doesn’t include just his friends and teammates.  It also includes grapplers from all over the country.  Vinny started the @teamvinnyv twitter account on Sunday night and in one day had over 1220 followers.

“I knew I had a lot of support, but it’s been crazy,” he said. “It’s been amazing what the wrestling community has done.  [NCAA champion] Bubba Jenkins retweeted something about me.  [Former Olympian] Jeff Blatnick called me. It’s amazing how supportive people have been.”

He also singled out a phone call he received from one of his favorite wrestlers from the school he hopes to attend one day, Cornell University.

“[Three-time NCAA champion] Kyle Dake was out of the country at the World Cup,” Michael Vespa said. “But his first tweet when he got back to the United States had my brother in it.  And then he called my brother in the hospital.  It meant so much.”

The support will keep coming.

This Wednesday, local New York All-Star wrestlers will come together at Delaware Valley High School in Matamoras, Pennsylvania to face squads from the Keystone State and New Jersey.  Vinny Vespa was scheduled to compete, but now $2 for each attendee will go to his family.

In addition, a takedown tournament titled “Victory 4 Vinny ” will be held at Monroe-Woodbury High School on June 30 from 8 am – 6 pm.   The event will have elementary, middle school, high school and open divisions, with the possibility of a masters division as well.  Registration will be $20 and all proceeds will go directly to the Vespa family.  In conjunction with the tournament, will be a family fun day event with face painting, cotton candy and more.

Forever Fierce has donated over 1000 specially-designed T-shirts that can soon be purchased at  All proceeds will go to helping the Vespas.

Vinny is excited for these fundraising endeavors. He said he expects to be in the hospital for about another week and then will come home to continue his fight.

“Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy,” he said on Monday night, quoting the legendary Dan Gable.  “That’s pretty much what I’m going by right now.  I definitely think wrestling puts me in a better position. My trainer [Rahn] has helped me out so much this year. He helped me put on 20 pounds of mostly muscle and that will help me with what I’m going through.”

Michael Vespa believes his brother’s strength and will are the keys.

“In the semifinals at Sections he was wrestling a kid who pinned him at the beginning of the season,” Michael Vespa said. “He was down by a point with about 20 seconds left.  I felt okay about it.  Not for a split second did I doubt that he would win. Sure enough, with five seconds left, he got the reversal to win.”

He has a similar sense of confidence now in his younger sibling, whom he calls “Cancer’s Nightmare”.

“I guess the best way I can describe my brother is to say that he has more heart than anyone I’ve ever encountered,” Michael Vespa said.  “So many people told me that if it had to happen to anyone, it might as well happen to him, because there’s no doubt he’ll get through it. I believe that. Not only that, but he’ll get through it and then go out and win a national title.”


For an update on Vinny Vespa prior to the 2012-13 wrestling season, see here.