A tale of darkness and hard work

Rob Cuomo (photo by Robert Ford)

 (photo by Robert Ford)

Sometimes it takes darkness for hope to grow; dedication for success to flourish. For at least one young Saugerties High School sophomore, it takes both.

Sixteen-year-old sophomore Rob Cuomo is quickly becoming the most talked-about wrestler in Saugerties; maybe in the Hudson Valley wrestling community.

Rob’s darkness came little more than a year ago, when his father, also named Rob, died. Rob Sr. was a wrestler when he was young. He passed the love of the sport onto his son. “Before he got sick, we would wrestle,” Rob said. “He was a huge motivation for me.”


Rob would often see his father watching wrestling matches on Youtube, breaking down moves and technique, something his son does now.

But watching high school and college wrestling is a lot different than actually participating in the sport.

Last year Cuomo was not a dominant wrestler. He was on the junior varsity squad for much of the year. When he moved up to varsity, success eluded him.

At the end of the season, Cuomo gave some serious thought to quitting the sport.

“He was devastated by the loss of his father,” said varsity wrestling coach Dom Zarrella.

“I lost a lot of matches. So over the summer I was just thinking about quitting but I thought back to when I first told my dad that I wanted to be a wrestler and how proud he was of me,” Cuomo said.

And when he thought about that, he made a vow to rededicate himself to the sport.

He talked to some other wrestlers and learned about the New York Ironmen Wrestling Club in Poughkeepsie, owned by Jim Baker, where he could learn about the sport and, as it turns out, life.

“I learned the value of working hard,” Cuomo said of the first lessons learned at the club, where he worked with other high school wrestlers from throughout the Hudson Valley as well as with a number of college wrestlers.