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‘Arms of Steel’ holds 17th annual IAF Championship

The 17th Annual "Arms of Steel" International Arm wrestling Federation (IAF) Championship took place during the 2011 Tomato Festival at Diane’s Deli, Pittston. PIctured above, Jesse Simko, Exeter, right, defeated Matt DeGilio, also of Exeter. Below, Al Price, Scranton, is taken down by Matt "Guns" Powell from Avoca.

photos by tony callaio

Seventeen years ago Tom “Nitro” Simko mentioned he was the Pennsylvania State Arm wrestling Director while he was getting his haircut at Ken Scaz’s Barber Shop. Scaz, who is a Pittston Tomato Festival Committee Member, wanted to add new events to the festival.

Scaz asked Simko if he would be interested in running an arm wrestling tournament for the festival. Since that day, Simko who is known in Pittston as the local arm wrestling guru, has held tournaments at Diane’s Deli ever since. This year Simko held the 2011 Pittston Tomato Festival 17th Annual “Arms of Steel” IAF Championship.

According to Simko, “The tournament is widely known from state-to-state for its huge double column trophies and wide variety of prizes.” The double elimination stand up style tournament had 75 entries of competitors of all different weight classes, looking to battle it out to see who has the best “guns” at the festival.

Jesse Simko, son of Tom “Nitro” Simko, was one of the competitors at the tournament. The Exeter resident took two third place trophies in both the 0-154 and the 155-176 novice right weight classes. Jesse also took first place in the 0-165 novice left weight class.

“My dad got me into the sport a little over a year ago and I figured I would give it a try,” said Jesse. Jesse started practicing at Diane’s Deli where Tom “Nitro” Simko holds practices every Saturday night. It was at Diane’s where Jesse learned arm wrestling techniques such as the hook, top roll, and the slice.

“I give all the credit to my dad. All the guys look up to him and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are at today,” said Jesse. Along with practicing at Diane’s Jesse also trains in his basement where he has an arm wrestling table and does wrist curls with various sized weights. Like his father, Jesse also trains other competitors each week.

His student Fred De Lucca placed first in his first ever “Arms of Steel” Tournament last year and placed second in the 166-198 novice left weight class. Jesse is proving the old saying “Like father, Like son” is a true statement. Jesse’s goal is to eventually beat his father and plans on doing a challenge match with him next year.

Jesse plans on competing at the Pennsylvania State Tournament on September 24th located at Diane’s Deli.

Another competitor this year was Matt Degilio of Exeter. Degilio also trains at Diane’s Deli every Saturday. Degilio placed second in the 0-154 novice right weight class and third in the 0-165 novice left weight class. “I never competed in the left hand class before so I was pumped to take a trophy,” said Degilio.

“It’s a group effort said Degilio. “I wouldn’t be at where I am today if it wasn’t for Nitro and the great group of guys I practice with every Saturday.” Degilio has mastered moves such as the top roll and the chop and like Jesse plans on bringing his skills to the State Tournament in September.

Another notable win was Debbie Price in the women’s open who defeated National champion Sue Fischer.

Tournament Results



1. Matt Powell

2. Matt Degilio

3. Jesse Simko


1. Chris Geiger

2. Tom Deacon

3. Jesse Simko


1. Paul Fisher

2. Jim “Fuzz” Fussno

3. Bastian Simko

199 and up

1. Bill Runkle

2. Andy Milheim

3. Brandon Reichart



1. Jesse Simko

2. Brian Malek

3. Matt Degilio


1. Paul Fisher

2. Fred DeLucca

3. Tom Deacon

199 and up

1. Bill Runkle

2. Steve Wonderlich

3. Andy Milheim

Master’s open

1. Jerry Darvas

2. Paul Martinetti

3. Tom Deacon

Women’s Light

1. Sue Fischer

2. Amanda Runkle

3. Crystal Malek

Women’s Open

1. Debbie Price

2. Sue Fischer

3. Patricia Warkevicz

Men’s Open Right


1. Tom “Nitro” Simko

2. Matt Powell

3. Bob Mac


1. Sam Harris

2. Mike “Flash” Surplus

3. Brian Malek


1. Steve Shoemaker

2. Justin “Superman” Kopa

3. Tim Lewis


1. Storm Chellino

2. Chris Ratchford

3. Bill Runkle

Men’s Open Left


1. Jerry Sterner

2. Sam Harris

3. Mike “Flash” Surplus


1. Storm Chellino

2. Steve Shoemaker

3. Tim Lewis

198 and up

1. Storm Chellino

2. Chris Ratchford

3. Josh Vinikor

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