Champion Boxer and Fitness Celebrity Goes Toe-to-Toe with New York's Governor Cuomo
Cara Castronuova’s ‘Liberate New York’ campaign advocates protection of the Constitutional rights of all New Yorkers
by Warren Rosenberg
June 12, 2020
In mid-march when the region’s NBA and NHL professional sports teams should have been headed towards their championships, and as major league baseball teams should have been gearing-up for their spring training, the 25,000 seats of Madison Square Garden’s main arena and Hulu theater sat empty. So did the 19,000 seats of the Barclay’s Center, 47,000 seats of Yankee Stadium, 42,000 seats of Citi Field, and 24,000 seats of the Arthur Ashe Stadium national tennis center. Also closed were all schools and colleges, Broadway theaters, movie houses, restaurants and bars, retail stores, barber shops and nail salons. All closures occurred by dictate of the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. On March 7th, the governor declared a State of Emergency in response to the growing incidence of Coronovirus infections which, at that point had reached a total of 76. On March 12th he ordered closed all venues that seated more than 500 people. On May 1st he announced that schools and colleges would close and that all school sports operating under the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) would be cancelled.
Lost in these closures was the NYPD Boxing Championship scheduled for March 12th, and the Ring Masters Championship amateur boxing tournament scheduled for April 10th, both at the shuttered Madison Square Garden. Scheduled to be present at ringside was a New York State Athletic Commission certified boxing coach, ringside reporter, Empire State Games Champion, two-time New York Golden Gloves Champion, former #2 ranked female boxer, and t.v.’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ season 11 head trainer, Cara Castronuova.
Daughter of a combat-wounded United States Marine, Castronuova posted a heart-felt concern on her social media about the governor’s restrictive action: “My dad and many others not only died but SUFFERED terribly for this country," Castronuova wrote, "and they bore a physical and mental burden that most of us will never understand. These soldiers fought for our rights and for our freedom and some live in pain their whole lives for it, while we enjoy the benefits and barely think twice about it. This is one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the issues going on right now in this country, because it’s personal. NO I WILL NOT give up my Freedoms and First Amendment Rights and hide out in my bed under the covers watching Netflix because a state governor unconstitutionally says so.
"We can’t be complacent. If we are, then these men and their families suffered in vain and that is unacceptable to me. I hope all of you can understand that. Recognize that many of the people out there protesting are risking being arrested, blackballed and socially ostracized and are doing it from the bottom of their heart and soul because they feel it is the right thing to do- standing up for the freedoms our vets fought for. Please try to respect and empathize with that and understand the good place many protesters to the shutdown come from.” So moved was she by what she saw as a governmental overreach, Cara started the Liberate New York movement along with fellow championship boxer, Vanessa Greco, boxing trainer Lee Shabaka, and her brother, Carmine. We traveled the country and State winning multiple championships and spent much time together on the road. Fast forward over a decade later and we are all back on the road together again, this time as the leaders of Liberate New York. “I am tired and sick of the way the politicians have been messing everything up -- especially in New York”, Cara told MetroSports Magazine. "We are still on a mission to fight, but this time not in the ring with our fists. We are fighting in the political spectrum with our voices for our Constitutional Rights and civil liberties. We are fighting for the state of New York against opponents like Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio."
"These are formidable and evasive opponents and definitely the toughest we have faced yet. It is almost like David vs. Goliath. When I get discouraged, I take myself back to what I figured out from my boxing days in the ring. No matter how bad the situation was, you always have to dig deep within a part of yourself and keep fighting no matter what. That's what we intend to do with our mission for Liberate New York. This is OUR state. We will keep fighting for our cause and know in the end we will be victorious if we never give up.”
As a participant of a highly regulated and rules-based sport, we asked Cara how she can comfortably embrace the dictates of organizations such as USA Boxing and regulations of the New York State Athletic Commission yet contest the governor’s actions. She firmly and clearly told us that, “when I signed up for boxing I VOLUNTARILY accepted any rules and regulations. That is my right. When it comes to what is going on right now in the state of New York and with the whole lock down, these rules and regulations were imposed on me illegally and unconstitutionally against my consent. I did not voluntarily sign up for that and Cuomo has completely overstepped his authority. The PEOPLE run the state, not him. We make our own decisions when it comes to these issues at hand. He needs to be replaced immediately.”
The Liberate New York movement has gained much press coverage for its advocacy, which included a demonstration outside the State Capitol in Albany on May 1. Interviewed by the Albany Times Union Cara stated that, “The state should be educating, they should not be controlling and mandating.” She aired her concerns on the Fox and Friends Weekend TV show and gained a positive reception on her social media accounts. Her actions were also noted by a prominent government leader, President Donald Trump, who tweeted support to Cara after her Fox and Friends appearance: “Great Rally and fantastic job on @ffweekend this morning. It is all happening! #MAGA”. President Trump and Cara met at his International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida. “President Trump was great. We talked about boxing and wrestling - he is a huge fan of both! He gives you that feeling like you’ve known him a long time. Sort of like a kind uncle.”
This is not a one dimensional woman. Cara’s other commitments include serving as the Executive Director of 'The Knockout Obesity Foundation’, a 501(c)3 charitable organization she founded to help address childhood obesity. A graduate of The Storm King School, Cara was the first girl to join the school’s wrestling team and she also competed in softball and soccer, and was crowned the school’s Athlete of the Year in 1998. She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Hofstra University where she also competed as a collegiate wrestler.
We expect to see more of her. The world will likely hear more from Cara Castronuova as she expresses her opinion, defends her rights, and provides ringside commentary and analysis when boxing returns. And when and if she runs for office, Cara will undoubtedly share her views on the campaign trail. She is a driven woman with strong opinions.