Beat The Streets’ Al Bevilacqua, a Long-Time Leader in Amateur Wrestling, Announces Retirement

Beat The Streets’ Al Bevilacqua, a Long-Time Leader in Amateur Wrestling, Announces Retirement

Al Bevilacqua (right) with wrestling legend Dan Gable at a Beat the Streets benefit


December 3, 2015

NEW YORK—Beat the Streets’ Al Bevilacqua announced today that he will retire from wrestling at the end of the year. Bevilacqua’s decision to retire brings a close to a remarkable career spanning 50 years as an educator, coach, and leader in the amateur wrestling industry.

“Al is one of wrestling’s most beloved and outspoken defender of our sport,” said Lee Kemp, a three-time World Champion gold medalist and spokesperson for the International Fraternity of Wrestlers. “His presence will be missed across all levels of wrestling. Al is a true New Yorker in every sense of the word. However, he loved wrestling so much that he moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take a position as an executive on U.S. Wrestling Federation’s (USWF) national staff. That’s love!”

The legendary coach has been involved with USA Wrestling since its early years when it was known as USWF. He held several positions with the organization, including the USA Wrestling National Coaching staff (1983-91) and coach for the U.S. teams at the Junior World Championships, the Espoir World Championships and the World Cup. He coached the U.S. team that competed in the Tbilisi Championships in the former Soviet Union (1985-88). Bevilacqua was the USA Wrestling State Chairperson for New York (1971-79) and was the USA Wrestling Eastern Developmental Director (1972-79). He was a member of USA Wrestling’s Board of Directors (1972-86).

In 2004, Bevilacqua was part of a team that founded Beat the Streets Wrestling in New York which brings wrestling to inner city, middle schools in the New York area. Starting with one program, BTSNY expanded to 20 schools within a year. For the past five years, BTSNY’s annual gala has raised millions of dollars and introduced wrestling to more than 3,000 student-athletes. Beat the Streets now has programs in Chicago, Columbus, New Haven, Norfolk, San Francisco, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Toledo, Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

Throughout his many years of service, Coach Bev has positively affected the lives of his former students, athletes and others whose path he crossed.

Actor, writer and producer Billy Baldwin, who was a collegiate wrestler at Binghamton University, has known Bevilacqua since he was a young boy and says that Coach Bev was like a father figure to him.

“Al has helped influence and shapes the lives of thousands of student-athletes over the course of his many decades in the sport. Many of whom have gone on to have successful careers as athletes, coaches, and professionals but, more importantly, as devoted parents and influential civic leaders in their respective communities. They all attribute their success to the sport of wrestling under the tutelage of Coach Bev,” stated Baldwin in a written statement. “Most interesting, and hard to imagine, but Al Bevilacqua may have had his most significant impact on the sport of wrestling in the final chapter of his career.”

Baldwin is referring to Bev’s work with Beat the Streets. “The contribution he has made to the sport through his founding of the Beat the Streets program may prove to be his finest hour. To introduce the sport of wrestling and have it flourish in areas where it never existed before and to have it influence young boys and girls in the inner city has not only helped influence and shape young lives, it may very well have saved them,” Baldwin concluded.

Bevilacqua is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. In 1983, he was USA Wrestling’s Coach of the Year and USAW’s Man of the Year in 2010. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored him with its Lifetime Service Award and he received a Special Service Award from U.S. Wrestling Federation. Among the Halls of Fame which he has been inducted, are the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame, the New York University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Massapequa High School Hall of Fame. He received the Order of Merit in 2012 from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining his son Christopher, who was awarded the Outstanding American Award. It was the first time a father and son were inducted in the same year.

“Old wrestlers don’t retire. They just step back and watch the young bucks battle. Al deserves to sit back and enjoy the show,” stated Michael “Mike” Novogratz, a former principal and director at Fortress Investments. Novogratz is also a co-founder and the current chairman of BTSNY. He wrestled in high school and served as captain of Princeton’s wrestling team.

Bevilacqua’s name is synonymous with wrestling in Massapequa. Early in his career as an educator with the Massapequa Public Schools (1961-94), Bevilacqua coached the wrestling team at Massapequa High School (1962-77), building it into one of the most successful programs in Nassau County and the state. He served two years as the head wrestling coach at Hofstra University.

Bevilacqua resides in Amityville, New York with his wife, Catherine. He and Catherine raised six children all of whom have gone on to become successes in their chosen fields, and yes, a couple did follow in dad’s footsteps and embraced the family passion.


Media Contact: Priscilla Hunter, or 312.286.6624 [m]