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Meet the Member Paul D’Amore
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Italy might seem an unlikely place for the beginnings of a cowboy, but for Paul D’Amore, who spent his early childhood growing up on a horse farm outside of Naples, a love of horses took root early. When Paul’s family moved to the United States and settled in Boston when Paul was 8, he was already hooked on riding horses and had to find a way to keep the dream alive.
“As a little kid I would take two buses. It would take me about an hour and a half bus ride, and I would go to a local stable. I would just sit there while all the other riders were going out, and they had no one else to send out,” Paul says and adds, “I was a little kid. I was 12-13, and they would say ‘okay your turn Paul,’ and I would take out the riders. That’s how I got my riding, because I couldn’t afford to pay for it, so I worked and worked, and that’s how I always rode.”
But another love of Paul’s life is being in the restaurant business. His father had the first restaurant, and then the two of them started their own restaurant together when Paul graduated college. He’s owned Massimino’s for over 25 years now, located in the historic Italian neighborhood of Boston called the North End, a place ripe with history and teeming with tourists and authentic Italian immigrant families alike.
“I have a family restaurant, so I work with everybody I grew up with, so we have a lot of fun together. It’s a lot of work, but it’s like every day with your family, so it’s a pretty cool thing that I do, and then I’m around food. I’m around wine, all the better things in life,” Paul describes.
In 1993 Paul, who had carried his horse riding into adulthood but had never participated in rodeo, attended the Wilmington, Mass., rodeo as a spectator. He vowed the next year he would compete, and that’s what he did. Initially a team roper, Paul tried calf roping offhandedly and succeeded in catching his first calf and then scrambling in shock to figure out what to do next.
“I said ‘you know I probably won’t catch him so it doesn’t make a difference,’ and I threw the loop and I caught him. I said ‘geez what do I do now,’ so I jumped off, and I picked [the calf] up, and I got him on the ground, and I finally tied him up in what seemed like two years, but it got done, and that’s when it started,” Paul recalls laughing, then adds earnestly, “it started as a hobby, and then it became a lifestyle, and now my kids do it with me and my wife, and we travel all over the northeast. It’s become a great way of life.”
Paul and his family, wife Margarita and their two sons, Evan and Massimino, named after Paul’s father, live just outside of Boston, but have the best of both worlds with their ability to keep their horses and arena in their backyard.
“I go to work, and it’s 25 miles south of where I live, and I’m in a big city, Boston, it’s huge. Then I drive 25 minutes, and I can rope calves and steers in my backyard. It’s like you’re in Texas. It’s just amazing.”
Paul has become involved as a co-chairman in bringing the rodeo back to Wilmington after over a decade absence. The Boston Rodeo kicked off this past April and was a hit with fans and contestants both.
“It’s amazing. We have rodeo within a 30-mile vicinity of Boston, and it’s the best. The people want to come see the rodeo, and the contestants in the area they want to go to rodeos here in Boston, because it’s a fun city to come to. It has a great history. They’ll come to the rodeo, they go spend a night in the city. It’s a lot of fun.” Paul says.
Being involved in the rodeo now on the other side as a committee member has been impactful to Paul.
“I have a big appreciation for people who put on rodeo and how much work goes into it. It’s been a lot of work. We’ve got a great team, working with Kenny Churchill who has a lot of experience in the industry [who] has been a big help, and then our committee has been fantastic. We have a committee that just hands down has worked so hard, and that’s the key to success is having a good team and trusting each other, that’s key.”
For Paul, rodeo has changed his life. Through the sport he’s learned a lot. “It’s taught me the foundation of just helping each other. Rodeo athletes are amazing, like [at Boston Rodeo] I’m letting a friend of mine ride my horse. We’re in the same competition, and he may ride my horse and beat me, but that’s okay. You don’t see that in any other sport. I am going to root for him to win. It doesn’t make a difference that I’m roping against him. You don’t find that in any other industry, that’s rodeo.”
Paul is looking forward to hopefully qualifying for, as well as helping host, the IPRA’s Northeast Region Finals coming this October to Wilmington with the Boston Rodeo committee.
“We’ll get the top [contestants] in the northeast. That’s going to be a great draw for the contestants, going to pay a lot of money, and it’s going to be great for the area, because you get another rodeo.”
And what’s better than Boston and rodeo? Nothing, especially if you throw in some Italian food, which Paul can no doubt accommodate at his place, Massimino’s Cucina Italiana.