Timbo Gonzalez, one of the top ranked handball players in the world, won the 2013 Red Bull Slaps this past weekend at the legendary Coney Island handball courts on Surf Avenue and West 5th Street in New York City. Gonzalez, who won the first annual Red Bull Slaps three years ago, defeated defending champion Geo Vasquez in the big blue division.
Red Bull Slaps is a one-on-one street handball tournament that brings together New York City’s best handball players to compete for prizes and bragging rights in the small ball, big blue and pump ball divisions. The invite-only tournament brings 96 of handball’s top players from across the five boroughs to compete for cash prizes and ultimate NYC bragging rights.
Hosted by New York handball legend John “Rookie” Wright, the one-day event was held Saturday, June 8. The tournament is a single elimination format with no player rankings. All players are put into a random draw to determine brackets and match-ups.
Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican who was born in the East New York section of Brooklyn and raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, was excited at the opportunity to regain the Red Bull Slaps title. He started playing handball when he was 8 years old and began to take the sport seriously when he became 15. Gonzalez was attracted to the competitiveness of the sport, which his parents also played.
“My parents would bring me along on tournaments,” said Timbo. “It wasn’t just a game that was played in the park, it was bigger than that.”
Gonzalez, who is 21 years-old and presently lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, learned about the Red Bull handball tournament through word-of-mouth. He’s passionate about the game and should continue to be a strong advocate for the sport for many years to come.