Arm wrestling is an instantly recognisable and familiar test of one’s strength between two combatants. Described as a “true strength sport” by the Australian Armwrestling Federation (AAF), the activity is being primed as “the most accessible, intense, and exciting of all the strength sports!” Unfortunately, like many other sports and activities, arm wrestling was put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until now. In the wake of the 2022 NSW Armwrestling Championships at Bankstown RSL in July, the AAF is set to travel to the only venue capable of containing the national battle of the biceps – The Star.
On Saturday, 26 November, the National Armwrestling Titles will take over the 24/7 Sports Bar, with an open invitation to Sydneysiders to “roll up their sleeves and put their best arms on the table” for the tenth annual event. Everyday strongarms will put their strength to the test against seasoned champions, with amateur wannabe wrestlers from across the nation invited to “test their mettle” in the hopes of qualifying for the World Armwrestling Federation’s World Championships in 2023.
One individual particularly thrilled with the returning battle of the biceps is AAF President Phil Rasmussen. Describing it as “the biggest event on the Aussie arm wrestling calendar”, Rasmussen is excited to see the entire Australian arm wrestling community come together again with “world-class competition”.
“It’s fantastic to be able to host a national tournament again after a challenging couple of years,” he says. Those challenging years required other, more established fighting leagues to carry on without an audience, and the WWE even arranged a “virtual fan experience” with screens surrounding the ring displaying virtual spectators, much like the NBA bubble. But since most of the pandemic restrictions are now a thing of the past, the battle of the biceps can go ahead unabated.
The Titles will be held from 10am to 7pm in a double-elimination format – two losses, and you’re out! Each male competitor will be divided into weight classes of 70kg, 80kg, 90kg, 100kg, and 100kg+, with females, split into under and over 65kg classes. And since tickets are priced at AUD$70 for one arm and AUD$95 for both, competitors must also decide which arm they think has what it takes to strong-arm a few local titans. If you’re worried about being a first-timer, just look to current NSW female lightweight champion Stephanie Vassallo. Armwrestling for only one year, her advice to beginners: give it a go!
“Armwrestling has such a great community spirit surrounding it; everyone’s welcome no matter what your background is or what your skillset looks like. We’ll show you the best techniques and how to stay safe.”
Then there’s three-year veteran of the sport, Bowen Contardo, who’s seeking a first-place medal at this year’s title: “Whether you’ve been training for a while or are just curious to check out a new sport, the Titles are a fantastic introduction to the incredible power of arm wrestling and just a great day out for everyone involved”.
If he does win, he’ll qualify for the 2023 World Championships alongside the top two competitors in each class. Plus, there are opportunities to win additional medals and prizes throughout the day, sweetening the pot for even the wannabe warriors.
Of course, if you just want to be friends and aren’t looking to show off your strength, punters and revellers are invited to The Star to see Australia’s next arm wrestling champion crowned live! On offer for you and your crew at the 24/7 Sports Bar is a delicious menu with pub classics and affordable bevvies to enjoy while you watch the battle of the biceps. The seat at the National Armwrestling Titles is free to guests over 18 from 10am, Saturday, 26 November, at The Star Sydney’s 24/7 Sports Bar until 7pm.
History of Armwrestling
Like many sports and activities, early evidence of arm wrestling is found in written and pictorial sources throughout history. Some historians believe arm wrestling originated in ancient Egypt or ancient Greece, where wrestling and the Olympics were born. The Japanese also practised a type of arm wrestling known as “wrist wrestling” during the Edo period between 1603 and 1867. This practice is thought to have influenced Spaniards and Cubans in the nineteenth century, whose arm wrestling involved placing a piece of money under each elbow as a wager.
In the US, the sport was first referred to as “Indian arm wrestling” and “Indian hand wrestling”, which was performed standing up. After gaining popularity with American youth groups like the Boy Scouts, the first organised arm wrestling tournament took place in the 1950s, paving the way for World’s Wristwrestling Championship, Inc. (WWC), the first arm wrestling organisation.
Today, the World Armwrestling Federation (WAF) is universally recognised as the global governing body for professional arm wrestling, with over 85 member countries participating in arm wrestling events yearly.
Arm Wrestling Rules and Regulations
The WAF rules and regulations for competitive arm wrestling are as comprehensive as any other sport, so let’s just run through the basics to get you prepped and ready for the Titles.
Hand Grip, Positioning & Pinning
- The grip is palm to palm; grasp at the thumb; the thumb knuckle must be visible.
- Gripped hands should be level on a plain at the forefingers.
- Freehand will grip the hand peg provided at the table edge.
- This arm may or may not touch the tabletop.
- No pulling your opponent towards you.
- Shoulders must be square to the table.
- No time limits.
- A pin is when any part of the natural wrist line to the fingertips touches or goes below the touchpad.
Fouls: What Not To Do
- The competitor’s shoulder must not cross the “centreline” between pegs during competition.
- A competitor cannot touch any part of their body, e.g. chin, shoulder, or head.
- Intentionally pushing your hand into an opponent’s shoulder.
- Competitors cannot drop the competing shoulder below the level of the elbow pad when in a neutral or losing position. Doing this is considered a dangerous position.
- 30-second rest is permitted after a FOUL.