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Wrestling with the Devil
Written by: Tonya Russo Hamilton and Antonio Russo
Author’s website: http://www.figsandfamiglia.com
Plucked from his beloved Italian countryside, severed from his family, and placed on an ocean liner in the Bay of Naples, a ten-year-old child, Antonio Russo, embarks on the journey of his life.
As he steps foot onto New York soil with not a word of English, wearing a pair of shoes for the occasion, and his pockets stuffed with salami and provolone cheese, Antonio recalls the promise from his mother that he would find trees blossoming with gold, and have family members to take care of him. Eight months later, this young Italian boy finds himself hit with a hard dose of reality – obstacles presenting themselves at every turn.
These obstacles would become the demons in which Antonio finds himself doing constant battle, but as fate would have it, he comes to realize one day that he is good at something. He finds by chance, that he has a natural instinct and ability in the sport of wrestling.
As this story unfolds, it would be the sport of wrestling that ignites a passion, and guides him to the realization of his true potential, giving meaning to the struggle he and his family would endure in their journey from Italy to create a better way of life.
Here is what is being said…
“Wrestling with the Devil is an entrancing tale of perseverance, hard work and the pursuit of the American Dream, all wrapped in an exciting, dream-like story that tracks one of Oregon’s wrestling legends from the hills of his native Italy, to bustling New York, and finally Portland. My reverie was broken only by surges of inspiration to make the best out of my life, like Russo has stressed throughout his Hall of Fame coaching career. But this is not so much about takedowns and pins as much as it is about the importance of family, pursuing goals, and never quitting. Wrestling fan or not, I bet you can’t put it down.” –Jason Quick, The Oregonian
“Wrestling with the Devil written by Tonya Russo Hamilton, in the voice of her father Antonio Russo, is a true labor of love by a talented daughter on behalf of her fathers’ amazing story. With roots in the old world that flowered in the new, this wonderful book captures the whole of the emigrant experience in America, the bravado, the ingenuity, the struggle for survival and, most of all, the grace and strength of the Italian-American family. Oral history at its most thrilling.”–Merridawn Duckler, Senior Fellow at the Attic Institute in Portland Oregon
“This is a warmly affectionate autobiography (as told to his daughter) of the life and times of Tony Russo, the Italian-born wrestler from the small town of Roccarainola, near Naples. It depicts a fascinating account of his life—from Southern Italy to Portland, Oregon, to Arizona State University—highlighting both the triumphs and tragedies on the road to becoming a finalist in the Olympic trials at the World’s Fair in 1964 and culminating with his induction into the Oregon chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Tony’s story is a compelling look at the everyday wins and losses that accompany the pathway to being one of the best in collegiate and freestyle wrestling. This work also shares his career move into coaching with its many rewards in preparing future wrestlers. Written in an easy-to-read narrative style, this work is an important contribution to the world of wrestling and a must-read for enthusiasts of the sport.”–Curley Culp, Professional Football Player, NCAA Wrestling Champion, 1967, Arizona State University
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