Born in 1901, Joe Streadwick emerged as a successful AAU wrestler in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Joe was also a central figure in the development of wrestling as a Massachusetts interscholastic sport; his dedication and hard work are largely responsible for the robust wrestling community in our state today.
As a competitor, Joe Streadwick trained at the Boston Young Man’s Christian Union and took part in both regional and national AAU tournaments. Historical records indicate that Joe was a three-time New England AAU champion, three-time New England AAU runner-up, 1931 National AAU runner-up (at 145 pounds), 1932 Olympic Alternate (145 pounds), and 1936 Olympic Trials qualifier. Joe’s superb physical condition allowed him to compete in tournaments well into his 30’s. Joe’s grand-nephew, Chris Pacelli, proudly adds that Joe represented the United States as a wrestling official in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Joe Streadwick was an innovator, whose vision was well-ahead of his time. He was a firm believer in proper diet, vigorous exercise, and clean living. He understood the importance of fruits and vegetables in a young man’s diet. Joe religiously ran every day of his life until the age of 75. He started his day by lifting weights every morning at exactly 6:45 am and did so for nearly 50 years. While coaching at regional tournaments, he made it a point to absorb advancements in technique, nutrition, and weight-cutting. During his lifetime, Streadwick touched the lives of thousands of young men; he was quiet, humble, and hard-working. In fact, he set a fine example for his pupils since he never missed a day of work during his 44 years in the machine shop at Pneumatic Scales in Quincy.
Streadwick’s greatest contributions to the sport of wrestling took place over a 55-year period (1927-1982), when Joe ran one of the finest YMCA programs in the state of Massachusetts.
Since no Massachusetts public high schools had wrestling teams in the early 1900’s, Joe made it his mission to teach and nurture wrestling at the Quincy “Y.” Joe procured a canvas wrestling mat from a college coaching friend, paid for the transfer of the mat from the train to the “Y,” and the historical program was thereby born. At that time, it was common for young men to train at clubs during the winter and enter weekend tournaments held throughout the region. Joe Streadwick dedicated his life to wrestling, coaching, clerking, running tournaments, and officiating until the 1980’s. Although Joe and his wife Corinne never had children of their own, Joe passed on his love of wrestling to youngsters down at the “Y.” As more high schools on the South Shore added wrestling, the Quincy “Y” became a popular off-season site at which to train. The wrestling program at the “Y” was a welcoming place for youngsters from around the area. Joe Streadwick, and later Norm Collier and Vaughn Lovejoy, helped young wrestlers by teaching technique, conditioning and encouraging them to be their best. Over the years, athletes from thirty different South Shore communities worked hard, sharpened their skills, became friends, and took part in a program which promoted acceptance, support, and togetherness. There were no finer role models for young men than Joe, Norm, and Vaughn.
From 1975 until 1987, Joe Streadwick assisted Coach Carmen Mariano’s outstanding Quincy High School “Men at Work” teams. When Carmen Mariano restarted the Quincy High School wrestling program in the 1970’s, Joe was essential to the fledgling program. Mariano noted, “Joe helped me recruit using his AAU program that was based at the ‘Y.’ He also helped me coach. He never competed with me or judged me; he was always supportive. Joe made me feel like an artist being tutored by Michelangelo, a musician being mentored by Beethoven or an author being assisted by Shakespeare. Joe showed us every day what being good and being strong looked like. At seventy years old, and beyond, Joe showed a team of eighteen-year old athletes and a forty-year old coach what their best could look like. ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress,’ Frederick Douglass said; Joe Streadwick proved that by making every athlete on our team struggle to keep up with him. Then he made me struggle to keep up with him. That made us all strong. No memories mean more to me than the ten years I spent as the coach of the resurrected Quincy High School wrestling team. Many people deserve to be thanked for those memories. No one deserves my thanks more than Joe Streadwick.”
Lifetime Service to Wrestling