Niagara Gazette


August 4, 2013

Tonawanda's Piccolo in fight of his life


Niagara Gazette — "The hardest part is knowing my wife and kids one day ain't going to have me," he said. "I'm not scared to die, but knowing my boys and children will be without a daddy … I'm trying to do the best I can while I'm here to prepare them for it. It's why I'm trying to get this house done. Trying to prepare them so it's not as hard as it's going to be."


For those who know Piccolo, his resilience, even in the face of death, is no revelation. He's always been a fighter.

Piccolo made a name for himself in Tonawanda as a wrestler at the high school. He joined the elite 100-win club in the second-to-last match of his senior season, a feat he was able to accomplish in only three years.

After getting cut from the basketball team as a freshman at THS, Piccolo walked in to the wrestling room and asked for a chance to go out for the team. Matt Hambrel, who later coached Piccolo on varsity, was the JV coach at the time, and asked the young, ambitious grappler, who would go on to earn a No. 1 ranking in Western New York his senior season, if he had any experience.

"(We) asked him what his background was and he said, 'I wrestled my dad in the living room.' (The coaches) looked at each other and said, 'Oh boy, what are we getting into?'," said Hambrel, who called Piccolo one of the toughest kids he ever coached. "But (wrestling) basically turned him around. He won 100 matches, which back then you were lucky to get it in four seasons because you didn't wrestle as much. Nowadays you wrestle so much that 100 wins is pretty common. To do it in three seasons that he did it in was pretty amazing. … He was well-respected by his teammates and by other coaches in Buffalo."

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