Put up your mechanical dukes and get ready to fight in Ridgewood this weekend.
The owner of Queens-based microbrewery Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, Rich Castagna, is hosting the first bi-annual Rock’em Sock’em Robots Boxing Tournament in the brewery’s taproom, located at 1535 Decatur St., on Saturday, April 30, to unveil his newest beer, The Ridgewood Grove Oak Aged Golden Ale.
The name of this beer is an homage to the old Ridgewood Grove Arena, which hosted both boxing and professional wrestling matches during its time at 341-343 St. Nicholas Ave.
The 5,000-seat arena played host to boxing legends including Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson and Willy Pep from 1926 to 1956, Castagna said. The arena re-opened in 1982 and popular wrestling figures such as The Iron Sheik, Big John Studd, Bob Backlund, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Iron Mike Sharp and Chief Jay Strongbow would come to Ridgewood to put on a show.
“I know of the Ridgewood Grove Arena personally because my dad used to take me to boxing matches there, then wrestling matches,” Castagna reminisced. “It was a gritty place, reflecting the nature of the neighborhood at the time. In 1985, boxing and wrestling stopped, then in 1997, a fire brought the arena to an end, along with the memory of its history in Ridgewood.”
Castagna is determined to bring back the memory of the Ridgewood Grove Arena with his brand-new brew and boxing tournament.
The rules for the tournament are simple. Registration will start at 3 p.m. Fighters will be paired off at five separate Rock’em Sock’em Robots game stations. Each round will be 1 minute and the winners of 2-out-of-3 rounds advance. This will proceed until only two contenders remain.
At that time there will be a short break for competitors to drink some beer and prepare for the championship round, complete with announcer, raised ring and smoke machine creating an old school smokey arena, reminiscent of the bouts that would take place at the Ridgewood Grove Arena, Castagna explained.
“The winner will receive the title of The Ridgewood Grove Rock’em Sock’em Robots Boxing Champion, and will have rights to an incredibly detailed and beautiful championship belt,” Castagna said. “The belt will remain in the taproom, but the winner will have access to their belt anytime they come to the taproom. The winner can sit at the bar with their belt slung over their shoulder. Or he/she can put the belt on, and walk around the taproom to the envy of all. But in six months, the belt will be on the line all over again, so it’s to the champ’s benefit to not get soft.”
During the event, the brewery will have two poster boards on display showcasing old photos of the Ridgewood Grove Arena, photos of some of the boxers and wrestlers that performed there and a narrative of the arena’s history.
Ridgewood Grove Rock’em Sock’em Robots Boxing Tournament, Bridge and Tunnel Brewery – 15-35 Decatur St., Ridgewood, Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 3 to 8 p.m.