In March, NYU Florence student Primo Stropoli became a Greco-Roman wrestling champion of Tuscany for the second time in a row.
Primo started wrestling in 2004 when he was a freshman at Onteora High School and, since then, he has never stopped practicing the sport. As an undergraduate, he wrestled on the club team at the University at Albany and eventually went on to become the president of the club.
In August, when Primo came to Italy to pursue his master degree at NYU Florence, he started practicing with the U. S. Sempre Avanti Juventus wrestling club at the communal gym on Via della Chiesa. Since the very beginning, the team and the coach, Massimo Aresti, got along with Primo, taking him in as part of their family. The club recently celebrated its 110th anniversary and offers a wide range of athletics for the Florentine community, which include boxing, judo, jiu jitsu, pilates, and gymnastics. The gym also trains competitors in preparations for Florence’s annual Calcio Storico.
The Italian Federation of Judo, Wrestling, Karate, and Mixed Martial Arts (FIJLKAM) organizes the Tuscany Regional Championships. Wrestlers can compete in either Greco-Roman or Freestyle. Primo first competed on 7 December 2014 near Pisa, where he placed first in the Greco-Roman division for the 75 kg weight class.
The second tournament took place just outside of Florence at Bagno a Ripoli on 29 March 2015. This time Primo decided to drop down and compete in the 71 kg weight class. The tournament for the over-18 athletes officially started around noon because the children and teenagers compete first. Wrestling teams from all over Tuscany meet and wrestle in weight classes ranging from 59 kg to 130 kg. Florence alone has three different wrestling clubs and the rivalry between them creates a competitive atmosphere.
When the last match of the day was over, the award ceremony started. Several wrestlers from the club placed in other weight classes, earning U. S. Sempre Avanti Juventus first place in the team standings. At the end of the ceremony, everyone was very proud of the accomplishments of the day, and especially about Primo’s victory. His teammates and he are very glad to be part of the same club. They share their past wrestling experiences and teach each other different American and Italian techniques. Although they come from different backgrounds, the sport of wrestling creates a strong bond between them and brings them closer both as teammates and individuals.
By Alice Centamore, NYU Florence student