Providence was definitely ready to rumble again on January 25th when more than 150 supporters filled SquashBusters Providence at Moses Brown’s Gorgi Center for the second annual SquashBusters Rumble, presented by Bank of America. They were treated to an exciting day of amateur and professional squash that featured the greatest collection of international squash stars ever gathered in Rhode Island. The event was held to raise critical funds for SQB Providence, which is now serving almost 60 Providence youth, and garnered over $277,000, thanks in part to corporate sponsors Parsons Kellogg, Brown Brothers Harriman, Westfield Capital Management, and Hall Capital Management Company.
Squash Legends Ramy Ashour, Nick Matthew and Peter Nicol, who boast seven individual World Championship titles between them, and Irish No. 1 Arthur Gaskin thrilled the Rumble players and guests with outstanding squash and highly entertaining banter throughout the day. Each star led one of four teams comprised of 10 singles and 3 doubles players that battled all afternoon to amass “Wave” points and attempt to win the coveted Rumble trophy.
Reprising his World Wrestling Entertainment opening, host John Nimick again donned a shoe-length black leather coat and slick sunglasses to belt out a thirty second “Are you ready to Rumble?” before referencing the venue as Zaffer’s Palace, in a tribute to SquashBusters founder Greg Zaff and his vision to bring SquashBusters to Providence. Nimick carried on to introduce the pros by their popular nicknames -King Arthur Gaskin playing for the Kilts, Nick “The Wolf” Matthew playing for the Rhode Warriors, Ramy “The Artist” Ashour playing for the Sharks, and Bonny Prince Peter Nicol playing for Off the Rails.
While Peter Gemma and Paul Salem’s Rhode Warriors and new Captain Stefano Crema and Julie Andrews’ Off The Rails battled valiantly, it was Tom Kellogg and Gaskin’s Kilts and Habib Gorgi and Bill Hatfield’s Sharks that went the distance as they entered the Pro round robin separated by a single point. In the end, first-time SquashBusters supporter Ramy Ashour carried the Sharks to the 2020 title by winning his last two games over Arthur Gaskin and Nick Matthew, edging the Kilts in the end one point.
Guest were treated to delicious food and drink by Providence’s own Plant City. But the individual who stole the show was SquashBusters seventh-grader, Isabel Perez Comacho, who overcame some jitters to speak movingly to the crowd about her journey to find confidence, explore new horizons and play better squash. Program Director and SquashBusters alumnus Rodney Galvao introduced Isabel with glowing and humorous insights and also reminded the crowd of the profound impact SQB has had on his life.
Founder Greg Zaff concluded the 2020 Rumble by thanking and recognizing Habib Gorgi, Bill Hatfield and their team of Sharks as the top fundraisers of 2020, awarding them the Tidal Wave trophy to match their championship trophies. He then brought the day to a fitting close by thanking all participants – Rumble players, volunteers and donors – for their generosity and passion to see a better future for every SquashBusters student.
To see more pictures of the day, click here.