Niagara Gazette — Piccolo wrestled a few matches his freshman year, but almost all of his 100 wins came in his final three seasons.
Promoter Don Lilly of Victory MMA, based in North Tonawanda and billed as one of the top MMA gyms in New York State, knows better than anybody how tough Piccolo is on the mat and in the cage. The two former teammates at THS were both captains for the Warriors their senior season and Lilly has booked Piccolo to fight three separate times on TNT Fight Series cards.
Lilly said wrestling changed Piccolo's life and helped him realize his potential.
"The kid went from nothing, (after growing up) in Niagara Falls, and he was doing the wrong things and had an attitude in the hallway," Lilly said. "Then he started wrestling and really buckled down and took the sport seriously. … He showed that he had that fighting spirit in him. It's equivalent to today with what's going on in his life, and the fact that he still wants to step into the cage and fight to prove to people that you take what life gives you and you roll with the punches."
LEARNING TO COUNTER-PUNCH
Hambrel, who moved on to coach at Cheektowaga after his time at Tonawanda, has kept in contact with Piccolo and said that besides being a terrific athlete, Piccolo is a great person and father.
Piccolo has made his fair share of mistakes, Hambrel said, but what makes him so special is the way he's always come back an even better person. It's one of the reasons he's bloomed into such an outstanding father and role model for his children.
"I have blessing after blessing," Piccolo said. "I can't count all the blessings I have right now, even with being in the situation I'm in right now. I still have it better than most. That's a result of helping people out and being a good person."