This Day in Armwrestling History - July Dates
July 1st, 1994
The Canadian National Stand-Up Armwrestling Championships are held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 198 competitors choose to spend Canada Day trying to win a national title. Many of the country’s top pullers are in attendance. The first place finishers include future Canadian Hall of Famers Perry Bruhm, Garth Carlson, Mike Gould, Gary Goodridge, Barb Schlegel, and Liane Dufresne, in addition to Denis Dubreuil, Michael Barrett, Pat Mastrangelo, Garvin Lewis, and Tamara Kelly.
July 2nd, 2011
“The Battle” Dutch Open Armwrestling Tournament is held in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. The setting is quite unique: the event is held within the walls of a former prison. Germany’s Christian Stahlhofen is the overall winner with both arms.
July 3rd, 2004
The California Harley Pull Challenge is held in Hollister, California. Presumably inspired by the popularity of Mike Bowling’s Harley Pull tournaments in Ohio, where a Harley Davidson motorcycle is awarded to the class champion who draws the key that matches the bike’s ignition, Bill Collins organizes a similar event on the west coast. Luke Kindt, Allen Fisher, and Mike Selearis each have two keys as they manage to win both their left and right hand classes. Eric Woelfel has the greatest odds, with a total of four keys (two for winning his classes and two for winning both overalls). The winning key turns out to be among the four he selects, and he becomes the proud owner of a new Harley!
July 4th, 2009
The Willamina 4th of July Armwrestling Championship is held in Willamina, Oregon. This outdoor event, held annually since 1999, is part of local Independence Day festivities. For the first time, the USAA is involved in running the tournament, which features kids, teens, novice, and open divisions. All competitors who place have their names entered into a draw to win one of four cash boxes. Though not a cash box winner, Nevada’s John Shaw wins the right hand super heavyweight class.
July 5th, 2003
The 20th annual “Bronxboro” Arm Wrestling Championships are held at Old Orchard Beach, Bronx, New York. The event, organized by Gene Camp and his New York Arm Wrestling Association, is part of the “Golden Arm” series of events that culminates in the Empire State Tournament of Champions in November. Middleweight Rich Calero and super heavyweight Shaun Freeman earn Arm-Star awards for winning with both hands. As the overall champion, Shaun also wins the MVP award, while Connecticut’s Cindy Looney wins the MVP award in the women’s division.
July 6th, 2013
The first annual Four Rivers Harley Pull is held in Paducah, Kentucky. The event, which is sanctioned by the Tennessee Armwrestling Association, gets a strong turnout (including 29 entries in the women’s division!). The tournaments features a 100th Anniversary 2003 Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle to be awarded to a lucky pro class winner. When the pulling is done, Missouri’s Bill Logsdon has the best odds of winning the bike. He’s the only man to win two classes and thus earns two keys. But he does not pick the key that matches the bike’s ignition—that key is picked by Alabama’s Josh Bishop, the winner of the right hand 190-lb class.
July 7th, 2000
Day 1 of competition of the AAA National Championships takes place in Bakersfield, California. Mike McGraw, Bill Ballinger, Jacob Abbott, Travis Bagent, and Eric Woelfel are among the left hand champions. Margie Worden and Mary McConnaughey also win left hand titles: it’s the third time in a row for both of them! The right hand masters division is also contested. Norm Devio, Allen Fisher, Joe Fitzsimmons, Mitch Cady, and David Randall all end the day with new titles.
July 8th, 2000
Day 2 of competition of the AAA National Championships takes place in Bakersfield, California. Mike McGraw, Jacob Abbott, Eric Woelfel, Margie Worden, Joette Peterson, and Mary McConnaughey win right arm titles which they add to the left hand titles they had won the day before. (Mary actually wins her third title of the weekend, having won a right hand masters title on Day 1!) Future Game of Arms stars Craig Tullier and Cobra Rhodes also win right arm titles. Plus Jason Vale and Bill Sinks, both recognized “strap masters”, have a battle for the ages in the 80 kg class.
July 9th, 2004
The Professional Armwrestling League (PAL) holds ArmFight 4 in Gdynia, Poland. The main event is a 78kg right hand World Title fight between 22-year old Ukrainian phenom Rustam Babayev and 34-year old veteran Cvetan Gashevski. Though Cvetan has been dominating the 75kg class at the world level for more than five years, Rustam has recently moved from the 70kg class to the 80kg class and has proven himself to be almost impossible to beat at this weight. Rustam wins 5-0, though the matches aren’t as lopsided as indicated by the score.
July 10th, 1999
Day 2 of the AAA National Championships is contested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Among the men’s right hand classes, only two first-time AAA national champions are crowned: Jason Vincent in the 121-lb class and Dan Victor in the 242-lb class. Other established pullers simply pad their résumés. David Randall wins his 7th AAA national title, Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes wins his 8th, Margie Worden wins her 9th, Mary McConnaughey wins her 10th, and Ron Bath wins his 12th!
July 11th, 2009
The first day of competition of Arm Wars “Mighty Quest” takes place at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, England. It’s a full day of action, with 25 supermatches on the card. The main event is the Heavyweight Arm Wars World Title match between American Michael Todd and Yoshinobu Kanai—the best Japanese armwrestler in the sport’s history. Michael tries different attacks, but is no match for Yoshi on this day. Mr. Kanai obtains good position in every match and demonstrates flawless technique. He wins by a score of 5-1.
July 12th, 1981
The 1981 Canadian National Sit-Down Championship is held in Edmonton, Alberta. The right arm only event features six men’s classes and two women’s classes, in addition to an open class for those 50 years of age or older. Gerry Beaudry, Deryl Rue, Mike Luchak, Tom Helgeson, Carl Tatarin, Rod Barrett, Lee-Ann Knoedler, Eileen Copeland, and Rudy Deutsch all win national titles. Dion Lengyel, the man who would eventually get Devon Larratt into the sport, takes third place in the 155-lb class.
July 13th, 1996
The fourth and final regional qualifier for the 1996 Yukon Jack International Armwrestling Championships is held in Denver, Colorado. A plethora of pullers are in attendance for a final chance to qualify for the year end event in Walt Disney World. A top 3 finish earns an invitation to the finals. Accomplishing this is not an easy task when the qualifiers average 30-40 high caliber pullers in each class! Andreas Rundstrom flies all the way from Sweden and surprises everyone by taking first in the lightweight class (165 lbs). John Brzenk, who already has a bye to the International Championships because he won the 1995 event, decides to compete for a tune-up and hopefully some extra cash. He easily takes the middleweight class (198 lbs) along with $750 in prize money. Matt Girdner, of Littleton, Colorado, wins the heavyweight class (199+ lbs). And Nebraska’s Mary McConnaughey wins the open women’s class.
July 14th, 2007
Troy Eaton and Brian Tamblyn face off in a right hand 3 out of 5 supermatch at the Prescott Armwrestling Championships in Prescott, Ontario, Canada. The match is to determine which Canadian will take part in a 4-man invitational 185-lb class at the next NAL/Vyotech tournament to be held in Las Vegas in September. Troy Eaton is the established veteran and the favourite in this match-up with four right hand national titles won since 2001. Brian Tamblyn has been pulling for many years, but has recently started to make a significant mark in the 198-lb class. In June he won his first Ontario provincial title with wins over multi-time WAF world champion Anatoly Skodtaev. And just one week before that event, he finished in third place at the Denver NAL/Vyotech tournament. The supermatch turns out to be a great one, and goes the distance. Brian manages to take it by a score of 3-2 and earns the Las Vegas invitation. Regrettably, the NAL/Vyotech event would never materialize due to a loss of event sponsorship.
July 15th, 1964
John Brzenk, who would go on to become the most successful armwrestler in the history of the sport, is born. He would compete in his first tournament as a teenager in McHenry, Illinois in the late ‘70s. At just 18 years of age, he would win his first world title in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in October 1982. He would win his first World’s Wristwrestling title in 1984, a WPAA World title in 1985, the Over the Top World Championship in 1986, and then proceed to win almost every major title over the next 30 years. Many pullers win a national or world title during their career. Some win multiple. But John has won over 100 of them in the open division, almost three times as many as the next closest competitor!
July 16th, 2011
The 20th Annual Ontario Armwrestling Association Provincial Championships are held in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. An attendance record for the event is set with 198 arms registered. Maksim Khodau, Eric Roussin, Earl Wilson, and Chantal Leduc all win provincial titles with both arms in the open division. Other winners include “Crazy” George Iszakouits and Allen Ford in right hand competition and Shea Dickie and Brian Tamblyn in left hand competition. For their efforts, all first place winners receive championship belts.
July 17th, 1992
The 1992 National Finals of the Yukon Jack Arm Wrestling Championships are held in the main ballroom of the Westshore Marriott hotel in Tampa, Florida. The level of competition is very high: only first place winners from 13 regional tournaments qualified to attend. Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes wins the middleweight title (190 lbs)—his first and only Yukon Jack title. Dave Patton wins the lightweight national title (160 lbs) for the third year in a row. Likewise, John Brzenk makes it three in a row in the heavyweight class. And California’s 6’3” Dot Jones successfully defends the women’s title.
July 18th, 2008
PAL ArmFight 34 is held in Sopot, Poland. Three six-round supermatches are on the card, with the main event being a right hand super heavyweight PAL world title match between reigning champion John Brzenk and Ossetian Dima Kochiev. Dima, known for his inside strength and side pressure, surprises spectators by avoiding going into the hook with John. Regardless of the techniques Dima tries, though, he cannot match John’s strength on this day. John takes control of every match. The final score is 4-2 for John, with John’s losses coming by way of fouls. This marks John’s sixth consecutive win in right hand super heavyweight PAL world title matches!
July 19th, 2003
The 2003 Baltimore, Maryland, GNC Show of Strength Qualifier is held. Many top American pullers in attendance with hope of qualifying for the prestigious year end championships at the GNC Show of Strength fitness expo in Atlanta, Georgia. The Baltimore tournament, the second of only four qualifiers, consists of four right hand weight classes for men and a single right hand open weight class for women. Maryland’s own Leslie Whims takes to 138-lb class, Pennsylvania’s Bryon Thomas wins the 171-lb class, South Carolina’s Fritz Corey wins the 209-lb class, and West Virginia’s Travis Bagent is king of the super heavyweight class. Despite giving up a lot of weight, Selena Belisle takes the open women’s class.
July 20th, 2013
The Bushido “Way of the Warrior” Arm Wrestling Tournament is held in Enid, Oklahoma. $5,000 in cash and prizes is up for grabs in the pro classes. Bill Logsdon and Chris Chandler walk away with most of it, as together they manage to take first place in every class!
July 21st, 2012
Arm Melter 14 is held in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. In addition to the regular triple elimination tournament, the event features 12 Arm Melter Canadian Professional Championship Supermatches. The open right hand title match is one of the most highly anticipated contests. It features Dan Kadlec, the reigning CAWF Canadian Champion in the 242-lb class, and John Milne, who was runner-up to Dan at the 2011 Canadian Nationals. John is the underdog in this match up, having never had a win on Dan. Dan, on the other hand, is fresh off a 4-0 supermatch win over legendary puller Gary Goodridge just seven weeks earlier. But this turns out to be John’s day. He wins the match by a score of 3-0 after managing to get Dan (a top-rolling monster) inside in all three matches.
July 22nd, 1972
The East Coast World Arm Wrestling Championships are held in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The event, held for only the second time, attracts nearly 75 men who compete in one of six right hand weight classes (twice as many classes as were offered at the 1971 tournament). It is the first Scranton world championship to be contested seated, using a pegged table. (The 1971 event was contested seated, but with a wristwrestling grip—non-competing hands grasped in the middle.) New Jersey’s Joe Leonardis wins the 165-lb class and his second world title in a row, while Virginia’s Roy Ridgley does the same in the 242-lb class. Al Turner is the oldest champion at 44 years of age. He dethrones Steve Stanaway, the 1971 champion, to take the 200-lb class. And super heavyweight raw bench press world record holder Jim Williams wins the 243+ class with virtually no technique, but an unbelievable amount of sheer strength!
July 23rd, 1993
The 1993 Yukon Jack National Arm Wrestling Championships are held on San Francisco Bay’s Pier 39 in California. It’s a beautiful sunny day to showcase many of the world’s best pullers. Dot Jones earns yet another Yukon Jack national title in the women’s division, with little effort. In the 160-lb class, a new king is crowned. Allen Fisher manages to dethrone Dave Patton, who had won the event three years in a row. In the 190-lb class, 48-year old Johnny Walker takes top prize, ahead of Bill Brzenk and Cobra Rhodes. And in a very stacked super heavyweight class, John Brzenk finishes at the top of the pack. In the finals, John manages to bring down the arm of a very large Cleve Dean, who had just returned to armwrestling after a 7-year layoff from the sport. This was only the second time these two titans had faced off in official competition, and was the first time that John was the victor. Gary Goodridge takes third place in the class and Ron Bath takes fourth.
July 24th, 2010
The Ultimate Armwrestling League holds its inaugural event on Muscle Beach in Venice, California. UAL I grabs the armwrestling world’s attention: the overall organization and professionalism of the tournament is superior to the majority of other events, particularly in North America. The tournament features six four-man invitational supermatch series to crown the initial UAL title holders, in addition to stacked professional and amateur divisions. Anthony Dall’Antonia, Mike Selearis, and John Brzenk win the left hand supermatch titles, while Allen Fisher, Kenny Hughes, and Jerry Cadorette are the right arm supermatch champs. With their first event, Robert Drenk, Bill Collins, and the rest of the UAL successfully create an air of excitement among armwwrestling competitors and fans, and the future of the sport in North America looks brighter!
July 25th, 1998
Day 2 of the 1998 AAA National Championships is contested in Omaha, Nebraska. Right handed armwrestling is on the agenda. Competition is very high, as evidenced by the names of some of the first place winners: Craig Tullier, Matt Harris, Jason Vale, Robert Redden, Jacob Abbott, Ron Bath, Matt Girdner, Jerry Cadorette, Margie Worden, and Mary McConnaughey! Only two men manage to win an open division right arm title to add to the left hand title they won on Day 1: Massachusetts’ Michael Shalhoub and Georgia’s Ron Bath. The top two winners in each class qualify to represent the USA at the World Armsport Federation’s World Championships in Cairo, Egypt, later in the year.
July 26th, 1986
The Over the Top World Championship is held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tournament is organized to supply background footage for “Over the Top”, a movie to be released early the next year starring Sylvester Stallone in which he plays the role of a professional armwrestler. It is by far the biggest tournament in the sport’s history. Approximately 800 pullers are in attendance. The calibre is very high: in order to compete, pullers had to qualify by placing in the top four of one of the 25+ regional events held over the preceding 11 months across North America as well as in Europe and Asia! It is recognized by many as the first “true” world championship. There are cash prizes of for first and second place in all classes ($5,000 and $2,000), in all divisions (Truckers, Military, and Open), with the exception of the super heavyweight pro class where the top two prizes are $10,000 and $5,000, and the super heavyweight Truckers class where the winner would be awarded a $250,000 Volvo White Semi Truck and Trailmobile Trailer. The Truckers division is also open to Teamsters. It so happens John Brzenk belongs to the Teamster Union being a mechanic for Western Airlines. This is a fortunate coincidence for John, as it allows him, at just 22 years of age, to compete in the division and he wins the biggest prize ever awarded in an armwrestling tournament. He earns it after a lengthy battle with Ed Arnold in the finals during which John switched techniques a handful of times. The tournament lasts close to 18 hours in all, and finishes around 6:30 in the morning!
A couple of major upsets take place in the pro division. Dot Jones suffers the first loss of her career. It comes at the hands of French-Canadian Liane Dufresne. This would be Dot’s only loss between 1983 and her retirement from the sport circa 1996. Cleve Dean, who had been having health issues, loses in the finals of the super heavyweight class to Scott Norton. Scott would then decide the leave the sport on a high note, as the top armwrestler on the planet. This would fuel years of debate about exactly how strong he was and where he fits in among the best ever.
Several of the other pro class winners are among the best of the best of the era, including Dave Patton, Allen Fisher, and Johnny Walker. Johnny actually had to be woken up for his final match. Half-asleep, he still manages to win the 195-lb class with ease.
By the end of the tournament, undoubtedly everyone in attendance knows that they had just taken part in an experience of a lifetime!
July 27th, 2004
PAL ArmFight 5 is held in Sudok, Ukraine. Four three-round supermatches make up the event. The match-up that draws the most interest features fellow Ukrainians Taras Ivakin and Andrey Pushkar in the right hand unlimited division. Taras has been armwrestling at a high level for a few years, while Andrey has just recently started to make his mark on the sport. (He’s not yet 19 years of age!) Taras is successful in his first PAL ArmFight appearance and wins by a score of 2 to 1.
July 28th, 1991
The North American Armwrestling Championships are held in Amos, Quebec, Canada. These North American Championships had been held annually in Amos since the ‘70s, and had developed a reputation for being a very tough tournament to win. Cash prizes had always drawn top tier talent to the event (even though Amos is small town in Northern Quebec), and the 1991 contest is no different. Massachusetts’ Gabe Accardi travels up and wins the right hand 140-lb class; Dave Patton wins the 160-lb class; John Brzenk takes the 200-b class; and Gary Goodridge is the king of the super heavyweights. A crowd of close to 1,000 are there to watch and cheer.
July 29th, 2006
The International Professional Armwrestling Association (IPAA) hosts its inaugural event in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. The headline supermatch pits Russian Artem Klimenko against Uzbekistan’s Farid Usmanov in a best-of-five left-hand supermatch. The two men are recognized as being among the very best armwrestlers on the planet. Both had won left-hand WAF world titles the previous year: Artem in the 100 kg class and Farid in the 110 kg class. However, Artem’s title was subsequently stripped for failing a drug test at the World Championships. His invitation to the IPAA event brought a lot of criticism, as he had been suspended from amateur competition due to his drug charge. In their first match, Farid wins by getting Artem into a hook. In their second match, Artem manages to hit very quickly with side pressure and pins Farid. This match hurt Farid’s elbow. The third match is similar to the second, and Farid decides he is too injured to continue. Thus, Artem Klimenko is the winner of the supermatch. Unfortunately, this would be Artem’s last contest and the IPAA folded soon after as well. The World Armwrestling Federation issued a statement saying that any athletes participating in tournaments run by organizations that did not prevent WAF-suspended athletes from competing would be suspended as well from any regional, national, or world competition affiliated with WAF. (This may not be exactly how the statement was worded, but it was similar to this.) It is assumed that this policy simply made it too difficult for the IPAA to attract competitors.
July 30th, 2005
SuperStar Showdown 2 is held in Chehalis, Washington. The main attraction is a 13-man invitational double elimination tournament featuring most of the best 198-lb pullers in North America. Americans Jacob Abbott, Kevin Bongard, Bill Brzenk, John Brzenk, Kenny Hughes, Todd Hutchings, Bryan Johnson, Chris Myers, James Retarides, Mike Selearis, are joined by Canadians Anthony Dall’Antonia, Aaron Lengyel, and Luke Reimer in a contest for the ages. Several great matches take place, but in the end the man at the top of the standings is none other than John Brzenk. Many fans were curious to see if Todd Hutchings, who had amazing matches with John just two months earlier in Las Vegas (which included one win), could beat John in this event. But on this day, John wins all of his matches convincingly. Todd takes second place, Chris Myers takes third, Luke Reimer fourth, and Bill Brzenk and Jacob Abbott tie for fifth.
July 31st, 2004
The inaugural SuperStar Showdown is held in Chehalis, Washington. The Showdown consists of an invitational super-heavyweight double elimination tournament, featuring six of North America’s top pullers. The three American pullers include legendary John Brzenk, 5-time WAF world champion Marcio Barboza, and multi-time national champion Jacob Abbott, while Canada is represented by 5-time national champion Devon Larratt, reigning super-heavyweight national champion Len Houghton, and multi-time national champion Luke Reimer. Devon is already well known by Canadian armwrestlers, but he succeeds in opening the world’s eyes through his performance on this day. He beats Marcio Barboza twice in great hook battles. Though John beats Devon quickly in their first encounter, he decides to see what type of strength Devon has inside in the finals. This leads to an incredible match: one in which John has to try several different techniques before finally putting Devon’s arm down. The match lasts well over a minute. Devon doesn’t beat John on this day, but he firmly establishes himself as one of the world’s very best armwrestlers.
Researched and Written by Eric Roussin