Joe Ocasio’s story is all too familiar.
A once chunky kid, the other school-aged children ridiculed and picked on him in relentless fashion. But Ocasio had a dream of becoming a professional wrestler, which only made him more of target for harassment from other kids.
But Ocasio used top pro wrestlers at the time, including Stone-Cold Steve Austin and Ken Shamrock as motivation for his squared circle aspiration.
“When I was young, I was really overweight,” recalled Ocasio, a personal trainer and owner of Joe’s Result Zone who also holds the moniker of the Long Island Landmine–named after his hometown, explosive power, and a piece of exercise equipment.
“I was told I could never wrestle,” he continued. “I was just a fat loser. But I was driven. I made the decision that I wanted to wrestle.”
Ocasio said he started amateur wrestling at young age. He also played middle school and high school football. Additionally, he studied various forms of martial arts and weight trained.
The grandson of late boxer Eddie Ocasio–an orphaned child who boxed at MSG and posted a 15-9-3 record– he said he went from a portly kid to a lean and muscular college student over some time.
Ocasio started his formal pro wrestling training in 2009 and wrestled in his first match in 2010.
“Slow and steady, I started to make progress,” the 31-year-old said of his body transformation. “It didn’t happen overnight. You have to believe you can do it.”
But just like any other inspiring story, Ocasio faced some adversity, as if had not already, when, in 2015 and ’16, he tore his Achillies a month before a tryout with WWE, and six months later, he injured his bicep.
Having built a measure of momentum, Ocasio said he did not face the injuries the way he had hoped.
“It kind of pushed me away from wrestling. Maybe I was a little bitter?” Ocasio said of the injuries that kept him out of the business for a year and a half. “But I wished I would’ve handled my mental health better. In hindsight, I would’ve done some things differently. I told myself I was done, but I wasn’t.”
Ocasio, who used to grapple under the Jack Gallow name, returned to wrestling. He said he shed his old gimmick name after a while and went with Joe Ocasio, using it as part of his pro wrestling story.
“I was using a stage name, because I was hiding myself, like I did when I was a chubby kid,” he said of the in-ring story he told the pro wrestle fans at the time. “So, I started to go with my real name to show people I was a real person. Since 2019, it’s been full steam ahead.”
Ocasio withstood the pandemic and has captured several independent championships while competing against some of the industry’s top talent.
He has wrestled in a match against AEW’s (All Elite Wrestling) bemouth Parker Boudreaux (on AEW Dark) a few months back and is set to compete against the legendary Homicide in May at Warriors of Wrestling’s card in Staten Island. N.Y. Plus, Ocasio has squared off versus another quality AEW wrestler, Ethan Page.
“It was a big notch on my belt. It was a great experience,” Ocasio said of his match against Boudreaux. “I was one of the few people who took him down.”
Ocasio said he has been loyal to the independent wrestling promoters who have been good to him. Therefore, he has been rewarded with facing top talent to help him put on the best matches possible.
“I earned their respect, and stayed loyal and stuck around during the pandemic,” he said.
However, Ocasio said playing a part as a security guard on WWE’s Smackdown last year is one of the biggest thrills of his pro wrestling career. He also received Tweets from the immortal Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson and former WWE wrestler Marc Mero for spreading his message of hope and antibullying as other shining moments in his life.
As far as wrestling regularly for top promotions goes, Ocasio said he no longer presses over it because things are going smoothly in his life.
“I have another career and I’m in relationship with someone who I care about, which is my fiancé now,” Ocasio said. “It doesn’t keep me up at night anymore. I’m confident that it will happen. I’m just going to keep having great matches.”
Meanwhile, Ocasio has been sharing his real-life story with children at school assemblies for the past year, something he said has been extremely rewarding. In addition to that, he said that Bear Bronson of AEW called him an inspiration.
“I just saw a wave of positivity from these kids,” Ocasio said, in all earnest. “It’s been great. To know my story touches people is pretty awesome.”
And what better calling is there in life?
— Jerry Del Priore