Wrestling with the Devil follows a Southern Italian boy, Antonio Russo, on a journey across nations and into the far reaches of his soul. He is separated from his family at the age of ten and placed alone on an ocean liner in the Bay of Naples- sacrificed for his parent's dream of a better life. In Italy Antonio runs through the fields, works on his family's farmland, and roasts chestnuts over the fire in the evenings with his grandmother. But his parent's goal was to rise from the impoverished life they were living. They found a way to do this but it would mean parting with their eldest child. They did the unthinkable, and thus begins the journey of this young boy's life. He steps onto New York soil in 1951 alone, without a word of English, and his oversized jacket stuffed with salami and provolone cheese. He recalls the promise from his mother that in America he would find family members to take care of him and the trees blossoming with gold- both promises would fall flat. As he is passed from one family member to another in the small cramped apartments of the concrete jungle called New York, Antonio, now Tony is trying to understand how this new life is better. He knew it was what his parents wanted but being a child, all he understood was that he left the only family and the only land he knew and loved behind. In a turn of fate, an uncle who emigrated from Italy and then moved across the country to Portland, Oregon sent for his nephew. This uncle was newly married to a young American woman they had no children, and were starting anew. Tony would join their family. He was given his own bedroom, enrolled in school, and as baby cousins arrived on the scene he found himself becoming their "son." As idyllic as it sounds, there was darkness. Tony battled his internal demons daily, still never understanding his parent's choice to send him away. And when the day came (four years later) to reunite, it was agonizing for him to leave his newly established family in Portland and travel back to New York where his parents had decided to settle. At this point, Antonio was nearly fifteen-years-old and teenage angst had set in. Friends were hard to come by, he had a chip on his shoulder that presented itself as anger in nearly every encounter, and here he was reliving the pain of being separated from family. In a new turn of fate, Tony is involved in a fight that leads a high school coach to see his anger as passion and drive. This eventually leads him to the sport of wrestling. With wrestling the anger could be channeled. After a terrifying encounter with the law a new light is shed for Tony. He begins to realize that he has a purpose, that his difficult journey has not been in vain, and that through hard work he can succeed. His passion and drive would end up taking him all the way to the 1964 Olympic Trials. He would become a champion wrestler winning high-ranking tournaments including the Western Athletic Conference and attaining a position as an alternate on the 1964 Olympic Team. Later, Tony Russo would become an inspirational coach, challenging and encouraging others to accomplish things they never dreamed possible- and they did. After retiring, Tony was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as one of the winningest coaches in the history of the state of Oregon.