BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Locals were all thumbs at Thursday night’s first-ever Ridgewood Thumb Wrestling Competition held at Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar.
Five brave competitors squared off in mini plastic rings in a fight for glory, honor, local pride and a free growler fill courtesy of Finback Brewery in Glendale.
The thumb warriors included The Millionaire, The Russler, Mr. Clean, The Madison Assassin and The Gentrifier. William Reder, co-owner of Julia’s, was the event’s referee. Reder read from the Thumb Wrestling Association’s official rulebook regarding match guidelines, including a strict “elbows on the table at all times” policy.
The winner of each match must also yell, “1, 2, 3, 4 … I have won a thumb war!” in order for the win to be valid.
The first match of the night took place between The Madison Assassin and The Gentrifier. As the only female competitor, The Madison Assassin (a.k.a. Madison Street resident Beata Slazak Zalewski), proved to be a formidable opponent, winning her matches against Mr. Clean (Ridgewood resident Chris Dinon) and The Millionaire, as well as one against The Gentrifier. She donned a dramatic black and red satin cape, gold crown and blue lipstick, as well as one very strong thumb painted to resemble a Luchador mask.
“I just thought that it is the most ridiculous idea and totally fun, plus the fact that costumes were encouraged and that it was being held at Julia’s made it an easy decision for me,” Zalewski said.
She was ultimately, however, no match for The Gentrifier, the neighborhood’s most hated villain, clad in gold brocade and a silver Luchador mask. As he stepped up to the miniature ring, The Gentrifier, played by Cowardly Lot Costumes and Props owner Richard Callender, taunted spectators and his opponent by waving his handkerchief and promising to bring high-end retail to the area. The crowds universally booed the wrestling heel despite his early thumb wrestling victory over the Assassin.
“I thought it would be fun and I like participating in things in the neighborhood,” Callender explained afterward.
The Gentrifier and The Madison Assassin faced off against The Russler in the final rounds of the competition. The mysterious, plaid-clad Russler ultimately took home the championship, with The Gentrifier and The Madison Assassin placing second and third, respectively.
The thumb wrestling competition was held in celebration of Queens Beer Week. Competitors and spectators sipped locally made brews, including Finback’s “Little Buddy” American IPA and offerings from Transmitter and Sixpoint breweries.
Start flexing those thumbs, Ridgewood! Reder hopes the fun will catch on and hinted at the possibility of hosting more thumb wrestling competitions at Julia’s in the future.