Friends of Long Island Wrestling - LI Wrestling 2000
Bob Bury began his wrestling career at Mepham High School in 1945 under the tutelage of Coach Sprig Gardner. Bob earned the Long Island Championship Title for three years. Utilizing a wrestling scholarship, Bob then held an outstanding record at Syracuse University. He was a place winner in the National AAU Championships and wrestled for the United States Army as well.
With this distinguished background, Bob Bury the wrestler became Bob Bury the coach in 1958. He began his coaching career in the same District he began his wrestling career at the newly opened Calhoun High School. Bob also coached the football, soccer, track, gymnastics, and rifle teams and inspired some of these athletes to become champions. However, his true love for wrestling led him to coach the sport for 23 years!
The outstanding achievements of his teams and individual wrestlers are unquestionable. Coach Bury's teams compiled an overall record of 200-77-6. Bob coached 61 Division Champions, 23 County Champions, and 8 State Champions. Many of his wrestlers earned scholarships and went on to wrestle at college level. Two of his wrestlers, Tom Schlendorf and John Walter went on to win NCAA Championships. Several of his wrestlers followed in his footsteps and became coaches themselves.
Bob's love of wrestling continues today. Currently he practices with the Bellmore-Merrick teams and serves as Director for the Sprig Gardner and Nassau County Tournaments.
Coach Bob Bury has dedicated more than 50 years to the sport of wrestling and he is admired for his knowledge, skill and devotion. He was inducted into The National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1997 with a Lifetime Service award.
By Don Jackson and Jerry Seckler
Friends of Long Island Wrestling - LI Wrestling 2000
All Hell broke loose as the official flew between the two muscular, middleweight wrestlers. Using his body as a defense he protected the ex-Syracuse University champion as the injured wrestler gripped his left elbow.
Everyone watching the bout between the two Long Island greats held his breath as the national wrestling championship hung in the balance. Bob Bury clutched his arm and valiantly said he could continue, despite the reality that the ulna of his left arm was stretching the skin, and the soft tissue was quickly swelling.
It didn't take long for the matside officials and trainers to determine that Bob was finished for the remainder of this tournament. Joe Scandura would add to his Big Ten championship the National Free Style title and the Outstanding Wrestler trophy by winning this one by default and then defeating the defending national champion, Knute Coppel, with a fireman's carry takedown in the waning minutes of the 15 minute long bout.
This event was the first Freestyle National Championship to come to Long Island, and Amityville rolled out the red carpet. Included among the competitors was the first national team from Japan to come to the USA following the Second World War.
The first Resilite mat ever on the Island adorned the deck, colored in Amityville red and white. Wrestling greats including Johnny Mandell, Henry Wittenberg, Lonnie Kittle, Jimmy Fogarty, Pascal Perri, Ken Hunte, Doc Fallot, and Sprig Gardner headed the long list of dignitaries participating as tournament officials and honored guests.
Bury tried to kill the pain while waiting for Doc Fallot to put his elbow back in place. He thought of his trip back from the Army where he had served most recently at Fort Collins, Colorado. He had learned to fly small airplanes and then flew his newly purchased, used, single engine Cessna home to New York by dead reckoning.
As a Mepham Wrestler, Bob had won the Junior and Senior Metropolitan Championships and was one of an elite group of athletes who won three Long Island High School Championships. Bob left Long Island for Syracuse University and joined coach Joe McDaniel's trio of Long Island champions, Bob Gerbino from Valley Stream Central and high school teammate Bill Tschirhart to form what Coach McDaniel would dub the Little Three of Eastern Intercollegiate wrestling.
Much about Bob Bury's activities are extraordinary.
As an athlete he excelled in wrestling and football. As a coach at Calhoun High School Bob amassed an enviable record of achievements including 200 wrestling victories over his 23 year coaching career.
As an adult athlete he became a lifeguard and competed in the two-man ocean dory races. Once he teamed up with another wrestling champion, George Munnich, and captured the Eastern title. He has been inducted into the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame and in 1999, was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
To add to an already amazing amount of athletic and coaching accomplishments, Bob became a volunteer forest fire fighter and has often been airlifted into red hot fires out West to help people and animals alike. Bob celebrated his 71st birthday while fighting just such a natural disaster.
A life composed of wrestling, public service, and welcoming challenges-"Sprig" would be proud!
Long Island Wrestling Association, 2008
This year marks the fiftieth birthday of Calhoun High School. As one of the many birthday celebrations, the school is establishing a Hall of Fame. Coach Bob Bury has been chosen as one of the eight people to be the first inductees.
When Calhoun opened its doors that first year, there were only juniors and sophomores, because the district administration, wisely, decided not to break up the senior class at Mepham. Coach Bury was the first wrestling coach and from that very first year made Calhoun High School a wrestling powerhouse. *During his tenure he had 19 County Champs (26 championships), 6 State Champs (8 championships), and 2 National College champions. Additionally, he has also influenced the careers of many highly successful wrestling coaches.
Coach Bury is already a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and I am sure his induction into the Calhoun Hall of Fame is more than deserved; not only for his stellar coaching record, but more importantly, for the positive influence he has had on the hundreds of students privileged to have experienced his guidance and friendship. Thank you for having provided me with many years of wrestling fan enjoyment. Congratulations to Coach Bob Bury and his family!