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‘Nitro’ Simko charged up for 17th Arms of Steel

Tom "Nitro" Simko at right, rides with other arm wrestlers in last year’s Tomato Festival Parade. PIctured from left to right, Chris Ratchford, Justin Kopa, Lisa Carroll, Mike "Flash" Surplus, and Simko.

Last year’s Arms of Steel female place winners were, from left to right, Alana DeMinico, Patricia W., Debbie Price, Crystal Malek and Sue Fisher.

The annual “Tomato Fight” won’t be the only fighting going on during the Tomato Festival. The 17th annual Arms of Steel armsport, or arm wrestling, competition is also a festival happening.

It’s at Diane’s Deli at 206 S. Main Street, just down Main Street from the Tomato Festival grounds on Saturday, August 20. Weigh-ins are from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Start time is 3:30 p.m. sharp. Arms of Steel will have a float in the festival parade which begins at 11:30 a.m.

This will be the ninth year the stand-up style arm wrestling tournament will be at Diane’s. In the early years it was under a tent in the Cooper’s parking lot.

Admission is free and Diane’s will be open during the competition. The entry fee is $20.

Tom “Nitro” Simko -- the Pennsylvania director for the International Armsport Federation – is the founder and is still running it.

Though the event has been around since 1994 Simko said he’s excited about this year’s competition as he’s ever been. Reasons for his excitement are the caliber of the competitors, and the trophies, which are described as “chameleon” trophies.

“They change color as you walk around them,” Simko said. “They freaked me out. I never saw anything like it.”

The competitors Simko is excited about could number up to 80 including a dozen women. Simko expects up to nine states to be represented.

Simko, who as director and referee doesn’t compete, is also excited to be competing for a change.

Ranked no. 2 in the country by American Armsport Association in the 143 and under division, Simko will wrestle a best out of five challenge match against no. 1 Tim Clark of New York.

The challenge match begins at 3:30 Saturday as a special addition to, not an official part of, the Arms of Steel event.

While Arms of Steel is a series of individual matches, there is a state-team component and that has Simko charged up, too.

“New York is gunning for Pennsylvania and I’m really excited about it,’ Simko said.

Over the years the tournament has grown in size and in prestige.

Arms of Steel is considered one of the top two tourneys in the state along with the State Championships. Diane’s will also be the site of the Pennsylvania State Championships in September.

The tournament has six divisions: men’s right, men’s left, women’s, men’s novice, men’s novice left and Master’s Open.

Men’s right and novice are divided into weight classes from 0-154 to 221 and up.

The other divisions will be split in half according to weight.

Wrestlers can register as teams for no extra charge. A first-place team plaque will be awarded.

Tournament sponsors are Diane’s Deli, Hoof and Paw Jeans, DeMinico Chiropractic, Pittston Appliance, Atty. Joseph Novak, Toyota/Scion of Scranton, Caddie Labar’s Polaris, Bonner Chevrolet, Nationwide Car sales, Ransom Quarry, Mobile Glass Services, Pittston Tire and B & G Beverage.

Call Tom "Nitro" Simko at 388-8612 for more information.

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