WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ryan Malo '11 who fashioned one of the most successful wrestling careers at Williams College in just three seasons of competition is still competing and still winning.
A three-time All-American at 197 pounds for the Ephs, Malo notched 124 wins in 140 bouts registering a glittering .886 winning percentage and set the NCAA record for career pins with 82. Malo won more than half of his matches (.586) via a pin wearing the purple and gold Williams singlet. Malo competed in Rome at 240 pounds.
So how did Malo transfer his American collegiate success to success in Italy? "My mother's family is Italian, and we visited my cousins in Naples in 2012," Malo stated. "My uncle and I began our citizenship application at that point and it took us seven years to complete the process before receiving our Italian passports in August 2019."
"During the 2012 trip, I wrestled with a club in Rome named AS Borgo Prati and I have always had the idea of wrestling for Italy in mind," said Malo. "It worked perfectly when FIJLKAM (the Italian national wrestling federation) posted its 2020 tournament schedule in late November, with the national tournament occurring on the last weekend of my winter break from Georgetown Law. It took some last minute preparations and creative workouts, but my Eph teammate Colin Curzi '12, and I made it happen." Mayo won all four of his bouts in claiming the Italian heavyweight title.
"Ryan is at Georgetown Law and I was at Johns Hopkins for my MBA and we just found ways to meet between Baltimore and D.C. for some unconventional workouts – from hand fighting in the parks of Washington, D.C. to running sprints at the Circus Maximus in Rome," noted Curzi. Curzi is currently an Urbanist who has developed the sustainable smart city strategies for Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto through Google's Sidewalk Labs
Malo explained why he selected Curzi to accompany him to Italy, "Colin is one of my best friends and it was amazing to have him in my corner this past weekend. He's supportive, knowledgeable, and someone I rely on for advice in all kinds of situations. I could not have done this trip without him and the support of the entire Curzi family."
The style of wrestling on the international scene and at the Italian National Championships was a bit different than what Malo and Curzi saw in their Eph careers. "International wrestling is contested in two styles, freestyle and Greco-Roman," Malo noted. "I compete in freestyle and it's similar to college wrestling in the United States. I had some experience wrestling freestyle years ago, and I was lucky enough to have Scott Honecker and Tom Foote '13 help me over Thanksgiving break to prepare. Freestyle is focused on wrestling on your feet, which required me to change some things I focused on when I was competing in college. I was a little rusty after not having competed in seven years, but I felt good."
|Ryan Malo (l) and Colin Curzi in Rome|
"The field of wrestlers in Italy were concentrating on body throws and gut wrenches," Curzi said. "We trained Ryan to avoid chest-to-chest matchups (where his opponents are most dangerous) and to focus on defensive takedowns. Ryan lifted hard in the months before the competition to have 'heavy hands and hips' – to keep his opponents heads down so that they were never in a position to lock his body. He only gave up one takedown in the entire tournament."
Even given all of the prior preparations required before the tournament began, Curzi and Malo had never seen any of their opponents wrestle before the tournament so they really were unsure about what lay ahead. "In the states and at Williams, we would go into tournaments knowing the style of our competitors," Curzi pointed out. "The field of wrestlers in Italy was unknown to us, so I had to scout Ryan's opponents 'live' to learn their styles and tells and develop each match strategy from the stands minutes before he hit the mat."
Malo, who grew up in Georgetown, Mass. and graduated from St. John's Prep in Danvers, Mass, originally enrolled at Boston University, but transferred to Williams after his first year at Boston University. "Williams College took a chance on me when I needed a fresh start, and I couldn't be more thankful for everything the school has done for me," Malo said. "It's a life-changing place and I have to thank Tim Kiely and Dan DiCenzo for helping me apply in the first place. Williams has benefited me in ways I never could have imagined and I'm extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend." Malo graduated with a degree in Political Science and enrolled at the University of Virginia an, where he earned a Master's in Education in 2012, while also competing in wrestling for UVA.
"Williams wrestling is a tight knit community and I've been able to maintain connections with many of my former teammates," added Malo. "In addition to Colin and Tom, I regularly speak with Corey Paulish, Mike Lomio, Nikola Mirkovic, Ces Antista, Kilo Martin, Josh Mattana, Carl Breitenstein, Dylan Rittenburg, Ethan Cohen, Kyle Ayer, and Mike Penza. They were all great teammates and have gone on to do spectacular things."
With his recent success in Rome Malo qualified for the European Championships in March, which will be held in Italy, but here is where things get a little sticky.
|Ryan Malo in control as an Eph|
"I am communicating with the Italian Wrestling Federation about the European Championships next month in Italy and the European Olympic Games Qualifier in Budapest in March," Malo stated. "Given my school schedule, we are trying to see what I'll be able to do. Right now it's up in the air."
Eph head coach Scott Honecker will be coaching Malo in Budapest if that opportunity presents itself. "Scott reached out to me after he got the head coaching position at Williams and our relationship has grown and prospered from that starting point years ago," Malo noted. "We're great friends and have a lot in common and it's always great to come back to the wrestling room on campus whenever I can. He's helped me numerous times over the years and I can't thank him enough for his feedback and advice about this past weekend's tournament."
"I'm so proud of Ryan," Honecker stated. "Continuing to pursue senior level competition has been a dream of his since he was an undergraduate. He has made significant sacrifices to stay engaged with the sport since graduating from Williams, and I am thrilled to see the first steps of his dream becoming realized as the Italian National heavyweight champion."
"Ryan is the rightful representative at the Olympic Games qualifier this March in Budapest," added Honecker. "He has a very realistic shot at representing Italy at 125 kg in the Tokyo Olympics, but we will have to balance his obligations as a law student here in the USA with his continued development and preparation. I am excited to continue advising Ryan. We have my long-time assistant coach Tom Foote here in Williamstown as a quality heavyweight training partner for him and we are looking forward to supporting Ryan's journey any way we can."