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Biofile John Wright Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: No. 1 handball player in the world.

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 215

DOB: March 19, 1973 In: New York City

Early Handball Memory: “Was playing in Thompson Square Park with kids at junior high school. I remember just hitting the ball around and having fun playing with the girls (age 14).”

Handball Heroes/Inspirations: “Mostly all the top players when I watched them play – they inspired me to want to be a top player – Angel Marquez, Buddy Gant, Joe Durso, legends in the game, Albert Appuzzi, Al Torres.”

Nicknames: “I have two – Rookie – which is ironic because I was Rookie of the Year. And my second is The Machine. Because I’m very consistent, I don’t miss and I’m great under pressure. It’s almost like playing against a machine, someone was saying when they were playing against me.”

Last Book Read: “Was Donald Trump, Rich Man Poor Man.”

Favorite Movies: “Terminator, sci-fi movies, anything to do with sci-fi, I love it.”

First Job: “On the books legitimately, was Off Track Betting. I worked for the city for ten years.”

First Car: “Was a Grand Am.”

Current Car: “I’m not currently driving.”

Favorite Meal: “Spaghetti and meatballs.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Would be chocolate.”

Pre-Match Feeling: “It’s like a nervousness, an edge on you. I’m thinking and focusing on beating my competition.”

Greatest Career Moment: “Becoming the no. 1player in the game. That happened in Queens, Peak Pyramid when I won the singles against the top eight players. It was going back 20 years.”

Most Painful Moment: “Would be injury, a loss due to injury. Torn meniscus in the beginning of the year in Arizona. Arizona singles tournament $4,000 WPHA. But you get over those when you have so much years in the game, when you’ve done so much. So it’s all relative.”

Favorite Tournament: “Is King of the Courts, it’s a singles tournament where all the top players get together and finally have to play against each other. So there’s no running or hiding. It’s all in, all out. One man standing. That’s held in Liberty Park in Queens.”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “I can’t narrow it down to the toughest competitor. Because any given day, any competitor can be the toughest competitor. You never know when one is gonna come out with the animality and just destroy you [laughs].”

Funniest Player Encountered: “Joe Durso. He’s pretty much a character. He’s the Howard Stern of the game.”

Funny Handball Memory: “Oh I have many funny memories. These guys were arguing about losing against me. And they were like, ‘It’s your fault, it’s my fault.’ And I calmed them down by saying, ‘It’s not your fault, it’s my fault. I caused this by punishing you guys [smiles].’”

Strangest Match: “I played a guy one hand with a chair in my hand. My weak hand, off hand, with a chair in my hand. And I beat him. It was a wagering match but it was more about the hype of the game. It was a great game. I barely pulled it out. It turned out that the chair was much heavier after the fifth point. It felt like a 50-pound dumbbell. We were trying to handicap to make the game as even as possible. And it actually was an even game which made it a great game. Because it could have went either way.”

Which Match(es) Were You At Your Best: “There were so many times where I played tight ship. I was winning King of the Courts where I was zipping players, meaning I was taking top players – supposedly on my level – and leaving them on zero.”

Favorite Sport Outside Handball: “Would be probably tennis.”

Favorite Tennis Players To Watch: “I like John McEnroe. I liked Venus Williams. All the top players in the game. They’re very intense, very aggressive, they’re complete professionals. I like the whole professionalism of tennis.”

Ever Been To U.S. Open: “I was there a couple of times. I was actually training in tennis. But my coach couldn’t continue to teach me. I was actually coming along pretty well. I’m pretty decent. If I would have started tennis as opposed to handball, you’d be interviewing me in the Tennis Open as the no. 1 player [smiles].”

Why Do You Love Playing Handball: “Well, handball is great exercise, full body workout. It’s fun. And I’ve excelled at it. And it’s just you and the wall and hand-eye coordination. When you have complete control of your body and obstacles – when you can achieve that in any fashion, it’s a great feeling.”

Childhood Dream: “I actually didn’t have any aspirations to be a star or anything. I basically just wanted to be set. Like, well off. I’m kind of a roamer. Free-willed person.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “Basically I want to see high integrity and high morals. It just brings out the best in people. Positive brings greatness.”

Residence: “Harlem now. I grew up in the Lower East Side, Alphabet City.”

Current Occupation: “I’m a car salesman and handyman. I sell used cars at High Line Motors in Queens 134th and Liberty.”

Career Accomplishments: Winner of 2008 USHA National Big Ball Championship; Two-time USHA Big Blue National Champion; Two-time Sky Bounce Champion; Four-time King of the Court Champion; 2001 Semifinalist and Doubles Champion at USHA Nationals; Winner of 2001 ICHA Mayor’s Cup in singles.

About Mark Malinowski

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