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Brooklyn View: Gerritsen Beach Smackdown

Looks like the Brooklyn View picked up on our story. GerritsenBeach.net made the newspapers! We were mention and they even used my pictures, with permission of course. My plan to take over the world is slowly coming along.

Its a very Interesting read.

If you cant pick up a copy here is the article:

By Edmund DeMarche

Joe Giordano is a large man who looks like he’s in his fifties. He talks fondly of his high school years playing football for Sheepshead. He’s lived in Gerritsen Beach his entire life, and remembers when it was a gated community.

Retired now after working years for the city’s building department, Giordano owns some properties in the area including a paintball store along Gerritsen Avenue. His son is known to some as Sex Monkey. He’s an amateur wrestler. Sex Monkey was among the first in Gerritsen Beach to form backyard wrestling.

Giordano and I met on Gerritsen Avenue near his store. He agreed to lead me to a professional wrestling ring plopped smack in the middle of 220 species of birds.

He is not fond of these birds.

“You know, I don’t hate these birds, but when these so-called hundreds of different species that nobody ever sees gets preferential treatment rather than the people in the community, I have a serious problem with that.”

Giordano has pumped $25,000 into the IBW (Insane Backyard Wrestling) over the past couple of years. When wrestlers were kicked out of Gerritsen Beach Park after a CNN special, he let them use a storefront on Gerritsen Avenue where hundreds of people would come in to watch the matches. He paid for their insurance but the club grew too large. Eventually, they moved to a friend’s backyard and as that grew, returned to the park.

He leads me along a winding path of dirt, mud and puddles with patches of ice formed on the top layers. Weeds taller than us obfuscate any view to the left or right. We walk for about 20 minutes and he said suspiciously he couldn’t find where it was.

The ring is now burned after a fire three weeks ago. Garbage including tires, folding chairs, a mat of a chain fence, lies charred while park rangers begin to clean the site. Since the blaze, park rangers have sped up their metabolism in regulating illegal activity after the fire. But along with the new harsh enforcement, wrestlers say losing wrestling is the one thing they have.

“If I didn’t wrestle, I don’t know what I’d do,” said one wrestler, who spoke on terms of anonymity. “I bet I’d be in trouble.”

Backyard wrestling is thriving among teenagers in Gerritsen Beach. Fights take place in back yards and parks. Unusual weapons, like a chair, are encouraged– the more innovative the use of domestic appliances the better. A stage is set up and a crowd assembles. Like the popular World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which spawned Hulk Hogan, each fight is choreographed with wrestlers creating alter egos. In Gerritsen Beach, some names are Pyro, Sex Monkey, Ryan Star, Guy Michaels and Heavy D.

“With some of the names, these guys were called them since they were kids,” said a wrestler, who spoke on terms of anonymity. “Guy Michaels, his first name is Guy and Heavy D is a kid named Danny, who’s overweight.”

Two weeks prior to the ring, which is made of wood, mats and a tarp, catching on fire, 30 or so people were issued summonses by the parks department police the night before at the ring. One wrestler denied the wrestlers had anything to do with the fire. Instead, he blamed it on teenagers who used the ring for drinking beers late at night.

“Why would we burn our own ring down?” asked the wrestler, who said he and two friends formed the club in 1999. “We had another ring before this last one, and that burned down two because of some idiots. Every time we went back and saw our ring still there, we were relieved.”

Park rangers responded, and have since issued about Backyard wrestling is unlike high school wrestling. The first time Joe Giordano went to see his son wrestle amid the dense weed near Gerritsen Creek, he went along with a camera crew from CNN in February of 2005. They were doing a special on the Insane Backyard Wrestling.

“The first time I saw it, one guy picked up a long light tube and a chair and hit the other guy with it, and I was like, ‘This is ridiculous,”’ said Giordano. “But then my son explained to me all the practice behind each match and how these wrestlers prepare, and I was surprised with the commitment.”

Phil Abramson, a spokesman from the parks department, said the summonses were legitimate. Those who were participating during the match were breaking the rules set in the park. He said there is a designated place for football and baseball, and without a permit, paintball and wrestling is illegal. However, Joe Giordano, said that’s exactly the problem.
“People who live in Gerritsen Beach don’t like to play soccer, and the football field just sits there. But a lot of kids love paintball and wrestling. Isn’t it the parks departments job to make sure the community is being served?”

The parks department said residents in Gerritsen Beach have access to one of the best parks in Brooklyn. But it’s for passive use, not for a “Royal Rumble.”

According to Abramson, the parks department is unaware of any other copycat organizations in the city. But a wrestling insider said there’s meetings in Gravesend Park and another in the Bronx. The clubs don’t interact with each other and are jealous of the IBW, because of its notoriety in the backyard-wrestling world.

Gerritsen Beach Cares, is a not-for-profit group that concerns itself with issues at the beach. Mike Taylor, the president of the group, said, although he sees the inherent dangers of backyard wrestling, he said it keep the kids at the beach out of trouble.

“We need these kids to do something instead of just walking around on the streets,” said Taylor. “And no matter what your opinion is of wrestling, it seemed like the kids were motivated.” Taylor said if they can get supervision and they start to clean up after themselves, it’s could be something to consider.

One storeowner along Gerritsen Avenue, who spoke on terms of anonymity, says, “The kids that use it look odd. It may be the costumes they where, but when I see them I get nervous.” Another beach resident said, “At least if these kids are deep in the weeds, they’re not out breaking bus stops or destroying the neighborhood.”

John Quaglione, the spokesman from State Senator Marty Golden’s office, said it’s a positive example of young adults in the community calling upon elected officials to provide them with amenities they need. However, he said these rings are unsafe and anytime a fire breaks out, it highlights a serious problem.

“Wrestling is not like baseball or football, because when groups obtain permits, there’s a protocol of what needs to be done as far a safety is concerned,” said Quaglione. “But if some kid breaks his neck, he’ll die. And wrestling is full contact.”
Quaglione said individuals who participate in these matches should call Golden’s office and speak with the senator. He said, the senator is already considering venues for boxing programs.

Some of these wrestlers have professional aspirations. Giordano’s son and his friend are attending Victory Pro Wrestling School in Long Island. It’s a five-month program that prepares wrestlers for a pro show. These shows are highly scouted and offers athletes the chance to begin a career.

“You don’t just get into wrestling school,” said Giordano. “It’s like being a plumber, you don’t get into the union without experience. This backyard wrestling is the experience.”

The IBW is not limited to people from Gerritsen Beach. Wrestlers come for across Brooklyn to watch or participate in the matches. Some of the wrestlers joined Gleason’s Gym, the famous gym in downtown Brooklyn known around the world for its boxing.

Training at the gym comes with a price tag, say some wrestlers. One said he pays $3,000 a year and about $100 a month.
Johnny Rocks, a trainer at Gleason’s Gym, said the gym specializes in boxing but also trains wrestlers.

Like organized baseball, there are wrestlers who travel across New York for matches. There are even shows in Pennsylvania. Wrestlers pay their own way and cannot make any money during the shows, or else face stark fines in the $10,000 range.

“We do it because we love it,” said a wrestler. “And it gives us something to do.”

“It’s very similar to training boxing,” said Rocks.

The issue has been discussed heavily on Gerrtisenbeach.net, a local blog.

One person posted by Wil: I’m a fan of IBW. I have been back there multiple times and I do agree that the ring was a mess. Most of the stuff there, like the ladders and chairs, even some barbwire was used for props. Other stuff would appear during the week that had nothing to do with us. IBW was very proud of their ring in fact they did clean that ring constantly. Every few months in town members of IBW went there with garbage bags and cleaned up around the ring to make it look more presentable. We even had a trash can back there, but again either high winds or the people who use our ring as a hang out and drinking spot kept knocking it over and tossing it and all its contents around.

Park Rangers blame the IBW for the fire, and say that for a group that should want to be discreet, sure have a way of making themselves known. The first time they were issued summonses, park rangers were attracted by smoke billowing from a burning table. Then, of course, came the CNN special. The IBW had a website, now defunct because they failed to pay the bills and it was sold to a porn site.

Much like the movie “Fight Club,” where members would meet, fight and get on with their lives, most of these wrestlers are just friends when they are at the ring. Once they leave the ring, they go on to their own lives. Some members say the community has been largely supportive of what they do.

“When I was six, I’d watch the older kids wrestle on mats,” said a wrestler. “Now I have parents in Gerritsen Beach thanking me for what we do—The fact that we take their kids off the streets.”

The IBW has been in existence for seven years, but for as long as some wrestlers could remember, people would wrestle deep in the weeds.

The club has matured over the years. The ring, when it’s not on fire, is impressive, built by hand. The wrestlers are blamed for leaving large amounts of garbage strewn near the ring, which many deny their doing. One wrestler told me the group used to better maintain the area.

There’s been inner turmoil inside among the wrestlers now because some want to clean the site while others disagree.

18 comments to Brooklyn View: Gerritsen Beach Smackdown

  • Jeff

    congrats on the photo credit.

    Taking over the world one photo at a time. Sounds like a plan!

  • Joe

    I think the article was fare except for a few facts . I never worked for the building dept but I did work for the city . I was not around when Gerritsen Beach was a gated community . I may be old but not that old . Lastly and most important , I never said Gerritsen Beach doesn’t play soccer or Baseball , Resurrection sports and the little league is two organizations we can all be very proud of .What I did say was that it was a shame that a great football team like the Gerritsen beach huskies were no longer around .
    Before the angry comments start , please look at the facts . I never encourage anyone to go in the back weeds for any reason no where in this article or anywhere els does it say that. . I tried my best to give these kids (not just my own ) a safe place to practice without weapons until I couldn’t afford it anymore . I was the only parent that tried to keep them safe .If you think I was wrong then I’m sorry but at least I tried .

  • Anonymous

    what a load of sensationalized bullshit

  • Wil

    Joe you did a great job with the store and changing the face of IBW. Since you didn’t allow any hardcore weapons in the store we had to focus more of the quality of wrestling and learning new styles as opposed to trying to throw somebody through the craziest looking stuff possible.

    Anyway, I think this article is fair too, and expressed both sides of the argument well, unlike the previous comments on our forums.

  • Wil

    Oh, and congrats and getting your photos in the newspaper, I forgot to mention that in my previous post.

  • eric

    the rest of the photos are mine, lol. the article does post both sides of this well, and am happy pyro and joe agreed to talk to them, if anyone is mad that there names ended up in the article, sry to you, but at least you could stand by what you do.

    joe don’t like them damn birds………… lol. i know you didn’t really say that, but its pretty funny

  • George

    Gerritsen Beach was the safe haven of my childhood, PS194,the first class in Shellbank JHS, James Madison HS,and Brooklyn College. During the VietNam era I left for the Army and never returned to live in the Beach. As far as IBW being anything out of the ordinary for the Beach is wrong. IBW is in the strictest tradition of the spirit of the the good folks of Gerritsen Beach , I remember playing football for the Blue Jays,or the Huskies. We may have lost a game or two , but we never lost any of the fights after the game. Shutting down IBW will not work,,the hard charging spirit of the Beach will still prevail. Either ,in a back yard,over in the weeds, or in the elephant caves. . It is no more than a small challenge to keep IBW going in “DA Beach”

  • Anonymous


  • elephant cave? what’s that?

  • Yeah…. I didn’t even catch on to that. What in the world is a elephant cave?

  • joe

    lol if you don’t know about the caves , your showing how young you are .

  • c’mon Joe, can’t leave us hanging now! What’s the elephant cave?

  • joe

    normally I don’ tell newbe’s anything ,it kind of like if you weren’t there you wouldn’t understand . Its one of the ways we can who’s who without running down our family lines . but come by the store and I might tell you .

  • eric

    the caves are the tunnels under the bridge across from the point. everyone now days calls them the graffitt caves, not elephant caves, but thats what they usta call them.

  • Eddie

    “Looks like the Brooklyn View picked up on our story. GerritsenBeach.net made the newspapers!”

    The kids wrestling made the news papers, it was a story on them, not this site.

    even though i disagreed with the kids wrestling and hurting each other, you must give them credit. this is one of many storys done on them over the years. they were on CNN and ABC news a few years ago. spike tv a few months ago, and now this. very impressive for “a bunch of jerk off kids” as some of you have been saying. i even saw a few of them in a Professonal event last week. also to add, alot of the people doing this arent kids, most of them are at least 18.

  • If I didn’t bring attention to this recent event, no one would of heard about it. Including the Brooklyn VIew

    All of the news stories were shock pieces, designed to scare people. I’m not sure if thats something to be proud of.

  • joe

    I am no way spokes man for IBW . I just happen to get involved in some small way . IBW is known from maine to California , Members have appeared on many different shows and newspaper article , but were never featured in any home town paper untill the brooklyn view . For those of you in IBW and their fans who didn’t know ,this is how the article was made possible . G. B. net was the first to run the store and pictures of the summonses , it was then noticed by the brooklyn view who contacted GB net . GB net contacted me and I contacted pyro . It was done this way in order to protect IBW just in case something went wrong like in the case of CNN and W O R who edit the tapes and put comments in the wrong place . Everyone knows just how famous IBW is but it friends like GB net that helped it get there . IBW has a lot of friends in Gerritsen beach and we should be thank full to all of them . Just my opinion
    Ps IBW will be at the Dear Park commuity center at the end of this month .

  • If anyone is curious to see the Beach, Floyd Bennett Field, Kingsborough Community College and alot of other 1980’s era footage, go to http://WWW.SECONDWINDOWFILMS.COM and have a look at some of the wild animation and crazed car crashes that I shot as a film student at Brooklyn College…