Posted on Jul 9, 2021 103
Arm wrestling has been popular among men at all times. Now it is even impossible to determine who first came up with the idea to interlock their palms and try to press an opponent’s hand to the surface of the table. This way men could prove their strength without waving their fists. For example, such competitions were popular in medieval England. And the English know a lot about sports duels.
In the story “The Old Man and the Sea” Ernest Hemingway describes a duel between a fisherman named Santiago and a huge black strongman from Cienfuegos in the tavern of Casablanca. They sat for twenty-four hours with their hands clasped together and their elbows on the table. And the customers of the tavern bet on the winner. Only at dawn, when tired spectators demanded that a draw be declared, the fisherman Santiago, gathering his last strength, pressed his opponent’s hand to the table.
Probably, arm wrestling would have remained a popular men’s pastime, if in the middle of the twentieth century, it was not taken seriously by the journalist from California, Bill Soberanes. In 1952, he organized a tournament on arm wrestling in one bar in Petaluma. At first, the local champions did not dream about big fees. Most often it was an opportunity for a free meal in the establishment. The competitions became so popular that strongmen from all over America came to California.
Bill Soberanes was so successful that in September 1962 he organized the first world championship in the same town of Petaluma. Initially, this young sport was called “wrestling”. In English it means “wrestling with the wrists”. Television also paid attention to these tournaments. In 1969, ABC company purchased the right to broadcast the tournaments, and the duels of athletes were watched with interest all over the world.
Bill Soberanes, the founder of arm wrestling, got his due: a bronze monument was placed in Petaluma, the birthplace of the sport, showing the fight between Soberanes and Dave Devoto.
At a distance arm wrestling may seem a fairly simple activity - you just need to interlock your hand with the palm of your opponent and try to force him to touch a special roll with your hand, fingers or forearm. In fact, it is a very technically difficult and injury-prone sport. Injuries to shoulder and elbow joints are common. And the heart rate of athletes during the fight reaches 200 beats per minute.
The most titled arm wrestler in the world is John Brzenk from the USA. He started arm wrestling at 17 and became World Junior Champion a year later. John has already won 26 World Championships. He is 185 centimeters tall and weighs about 100 kilograms. At tournaments of the highest rank, Brzenk performed even after his 50th birthday. Often John competed in several weight classes, beating competitors of much heavier weights.
Sylvester Stallone contributed to the popularity of arm wrestling in the world. In 1986, he played the role of Hawke, the trucker, in the movie “Over The Top ”. For a living Hawk earns not only that transports goods but also successfully advocates in arm wrestling tournaments. Moreover, Stallone himself is always present at arm wrestling championships.
Men did not retain their monopoly in arm-wrestling and they started to actively intrude into this, it would seem, purely a male occupation. They are already taking part in World Championships. Fortunately, the competitions for men and women are held separately.