It has been a long and arduous road for former world champion arm wrestler Jason Vale.
The bright-eyed Vale, 41, has one of Queens’ and the world’s strongest arms.
When he was 18, Vale was diagnosed with a terminal cancer that had a nominal survival rate. Soon after receiving that news, he decided that he needed another answer.
“After I found out that I had cancer, I decided to not do chemotherapy and look for alternative methods,” said Vale, who currently resides in Queens Village.
The cancer soon turned into a grapefruit-sized tumor, which needed to be removed.
After agonizing hours of treatment and surgery, his tumor was removed, only to grow back and become even more life threatening. Vale searched high and low before finding the alternative method that he was looking for – apricot seeds.
“When I turned 25, someone in my church showed me this video of these apricot seeds and after I started eating them, my tumor began to shrink … I just felt healthier,” Vale said.
His arm wrestling training began again. Vale also wanted to share his method of healing with others.
He was grateful that the seeds, which contain vitamin B17, gave him his strength back, and said he only wanted to share their secret healing powers. Vale soon began to sell an informational video, book, and seeds for $50 via the Internet.
Soon, people started telling Vale about their success stories with the apricot seeds, and he put their testimonials online. The FDA did not approve of the sale of cures through cancer patients’ stories and raided Vale’s home, confiscated his materials, and slapped him with an injunction to stop selling his products.
Vale thought that the injunction permitted him to continue to sell his goods, but not as the “cure.” He was held in contempt of court and was sentenced to five years in a maximum-security prison in Westchester.
“It just felt like I was cheated because I was only trying to help people,” said Vale, who went to prison in 2003 and was released in 2008.
During his time spent in jail, Vale was on an array of sports teams, played the drums in live bands, and trained for his full-scale comeback in the sport of arm wrestling.
Upon his release, he jumped right back into competition and won his first tournament. After losing a few events, Vale realized that he just wasn’t as conditioned as he once was.
Despite his recent adversity, the 1997 world arm wrestling champion and 1998, 1999 and 2001 U.S. champion wanted to be back in the spotlight. He trained hard and his dedication has paid off – Vale recently took home the gold at the “Queensboro” Arm Wrestling Championship in Floral Park.
He plans to compete regularly while getting his life back in order.
“Jason Vale is an inspiration to anyone who confronts adversity with a positive outlook,” said Gene Camp, President of the New York Arm Wrestling Association. “Vale’s touchstone is a personal achievement of satisfaction through his own beliefs and challenges – not only arm wrestling but through every feature of his life.”