The first youth matchup for the 2019 “Grapple at the Apple” Beat the Streets (BTS) benefit is set, and it’s a battle of State Champions, as Jo Jo Aragona (Pope John XXIII HS/New Jersey) will take on Adam Busiello (Eastport-South Manor HS/New York) as two of the top 138 lb. wrestlers in the country take to the mat on Monday, May 6, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The bout will precede the main event that evening, featuring stars of Team USA vs. NCAA Champions. The 10th annual event, which supports BTS, the largest grassroots inner city wrestling program in the United States, serves as both a fundraiser for the organization and to celebrate its athletes as they compete on the biggest stage in the center of the world.
Aragona, who has committed to attend Rutgers University next year, ranks #1 in the country, according to InterMat, He is the reigning New Jersey State Champion and three-time State medalist. He earned New Jersey Herald and NJAC Wrestler of the Year honors, and with a 158-6 record (42-0 this year) has the most wins in Sussex County, N.J. history. Aragona was also the winner of the “Who’s #1” event by FloWrestling.
Busiello claimed five straight New York State Championships (the only Suffolk County wrestler ever to accomplish the feat), and is currently rated #4 in the nation by InterMat. The Sag Harbor, N.Y., native, who will attend Arizona State in the fall, chalked up a 280-8 record including three consecutive undefeated seasons in earning five Section I championships. He also won four straight “Super 32” titles, becoming the first high school division wrestler to do so.
“It’s exciting to have two of the best wrestlers in the world as well as State Champions in Jo Jo and Adam as part of a celebration of the sport,” said Beat the Streets Executive Director Brendan Buckley. “New Jersey and Long Island are hotbeds of the sport, and fans can get a glimpse of the future as well as the present with what will be a standout lineup of the best of USA Wrestling and NCAA stars.”
The bout will be part of a festive BTS evening. Tickets are available now via TicketMaster, priced starting at $30 at https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/3B005668AA091B69. A variety of donation packages which include “Grapple in the Garden” tickets are also available at https://www.btsny.org/bts-events or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, beginning at $1000. Doors open on May 6 at 5:30 p.m., with the main event starting at 6 p.m.
For the fifth straight year, FloSports will provide live and on-demand coverage on FloWrestling.com.
Beat the Streets, Inc. will invite select members of the 2018 U.S. Men’s Freestyle World Team, which placed second in the 2018 World Championships and won seven World medals, as well as select top USA women’s wrestlers. The competing athletes from USA Wrestling and NCAA schools will be announced at a later date.
Beat the Streets Benefit competitions, which began in 2010, have since become a major showcase of the best of international wrestling. This unique and electrifying annual event has helped Beat the Streets raise millions of dollars to support local youth wrestling programs which empower young people in New York City.
The first Beat the Streets Benefit was held on the U.S.S. Intrepid, an aircraft carrier docked on the west side of Manhattan. Since then, the benefit has taken place at other notable New York City spots like Grand Central Station and Times Square. Team USA has faced off against teams from around the world including Japan, Cuba, Russia and Iran. Last year, the competition was hosted at the new Pier 17 in the Seaport District and included the highly anticipated Burroughs vs. Chamizo match.
The 2018 U.S. World Team, which competed in Budapest, Hungary, featured 2018 World champions Kyle Dake, David Taylor and J’den Cox, 2018 World silver medalist Kyle Snyder, and 2018 World bronze medalists Joe Colon, Jordan Burroughs and Nick Gwiazdowski. Burroughs and Snyder are both multiple Olympic and World champions. Others on the USA team included 2016 World champion Logan Stieber, two-time World bronze medalist James Green and 2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman.