This Day in Armwrestling History - June Dates
June 1st, 1991
The 1991 AAA Stand-Up National Championships are held in Houston, Texas. A total of 130 competitors take part in this right arm only contest. The turnout is considerably lighter than for the 1990 event, which had more draw power due to the fact that the WAWF World Championships were being hosted in the U.S. later that year. Nevertheless, there is plenty of great armwrestling. An impressive performance is given by South Carolinian Chad Silvers, who while still a teenager wins his first AAA national title by taking the 132-lb class.
June 2nd, 2012
Devon Larratt and Tim Bresnan face each other in a Major League Armwrestling (MLA) supermatch at the Toronto Pro SuperShow in Ontario, Canada. MLA, founded by Ian “The Grippler” Carnegie, has a goal of providing top level North American pullers increased opportunities for professional supermatches. While Devon and Tim had had a supermatch back in 2005, with Devon easily winning by a score of 3 to 0, the MLA supermatch is a much closer contest. Tim takes an initial lead with a couple of quick pins, but Devon finds a way to battle back and manages to squeak out a 4-3 victory. In doing so, Devon keeps his #1 world ranking—a position he’s held since September 2008—and Tim Bresnan’s stock shoots way up!
Bonus Info: The MLA supermatch is held in conjunction with the Ontario Ironman Open: a single-class quintuple elimination right hand competition featuring cash prizes to the top 25 finishers! This event is won by French-Canadian great Sylvain Perron.
June 3rd, 2006
Day 2 of competition of the 2006 AAA National Championships takes place in Mason, Ohio. Armwrestling legend Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes wins his 12th AAA national title. New York’s Benjie Dwyer, Arkansas’ Michael Todd, and Indiana’s Harold Owens earn right arm national titles in addition to the left arm titles they won on Day 1. Floridians Amanda Wiseman and Beth Westberry also manage to accomplish this feat in the women’s division. Several pullers in attendance compete in their second national championship in less than a month (the USAA National Pro-Am Championships having occurred just three weeks prior). Of these, Rob Vigeant Jr., Steve Rau, and Harold Owens are able to secure national titles in both events.
June 4th, 1998
Al Turner, known as “The Godfather” of armwrestling, passes away at the age of 70, eight months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Al got into organized armwrestling relatively late in life. Having always done well in informal contests, his friends suggested he attended the World Armwrestling Championships in Dunmore (Scranton), Pennsylvania in the summer of 1972. At the age of 44, he surprised himself by winning a world title in the 200-pound class. Over the next 10 years, we would amass a total of 11 national and world titles in several different organizations (WAWF, WPAA, and Carling O’Keefe). A possessor of tremendous arm strength, at approximately 50 years of age he managed a one-arm table curl with 240 lbs! He could also hang from one arm in a 90-degree pull-up position, while holding a 75-pound dumbbell in his other hand! This brute strength, combined with his thick-rimmed glasses, silver hair, and charismatic personality made him a fan favourite everywhere he went. He was not a speed puller: in many matches his opponent would hit him over to the losing side before he would put on the brakes and slowly bring them back across the table for the win. People loved to watch him pull and beat men half his age. He was a true great in armwrestling history.
June 5th, 1982
NFL Super Classic V is held at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. This Arm Wrestling International (AWI) event features some of the strongest football players in the NFL competing to determine who the best armwrestler is. On this day, this man is Joe Klecko, who earns the title for the New York Jets. Two professional armwrestling divisions are also contested at this tournament: the pro men’s light-heavyweight (210 lbs and under) and the pro women’s lightweight (145 lbs and under). California’s Clay Rosencrans wins a very tough pro light-heavyweight division, unseating Georgia’s Johnny Walker who had won the title at NFL Classic IV. Johnny takes second, Ed Arnold third, John Woolsey fourth, and Bob Howell finishes in fifth. Californian Lori Cole wins the pro women’s lightweight division, by defeating Jackie Allard in the finals.
June 6th, 2012
Eight of the top right-hand 95 kg pullers in the world compete in Day 1 of the PAL Armfight World Cup in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria. The contest, designed to crown the world’s best 95 kg puller, consists of a series of 6-round supermatches (armfights). Each competitor takes part in two supermatches on Day 1 to determine the match-ups that will occur on Day 2. The athletes include John Brzenk and Todd Hutchings from the US, Arsen Liliev from Russia, Dmitriy Trubin from Kazakhstan, Igor Miroshnik from Ukraine, Krasimir Kostadinov from Bulgaria, Vasili Dautashvili from the Republic of Georgia, and Terence Opperman from South Africa. John Brzenk, not in the best shape of his life but always a threat, loses his first supermatch with Dmitriy Trubin, but wins his second supermatch against Terence Opperman.The big winners of Day 1 are Todd Hutchings and Arsen Liliev who win both of their supermatches and earn the right to face each other on Day 2 to determine the overall champion.
June 7th, 1986
The 1986 Canadian Arm Wrestling Association (CAWA) National Stand-Up Championships are held in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan. 153 competitors take part in the event, which features six men’s right hand classes, three men’s left hand classes, two women’s right hand classes, and an open right hand seniors class. There are few surprises in the lightweight men’s classes with British Columbia’s Gerry Beaudry winning the 135-pound class and Ontario’s Paul Cecchini taking the 150-lb class. Alberta’s Brenda Vergette pulls and wins both women’s classes. Brad Hunker, also of Alberta, wins the heavyweight left hand class, while Saskatchewan’s Stan Relland wins the heavyweight right hand class.
June 8th, 2002
Day 2 of competition of the 2002 AAA National Championships takes place in Schaumburg, Illinois. Competition is fierce, judging by the names of some of the right-hand class winners: Margie Worden, Craig Tullier, Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, Bill Ballinger, Jason Remer, Jacob Abbott, Ron Bath, Travis Bagent, and David Randall! Though many states are closer to Indiana, Louisiana manages to win the team competition due to a number of great performances.
June 9th, 1979
The 1979 AAA National Seated Arm Wrestling Championships are held in Brockton, Massachusetts. A total of 166 competitors attend with dreams of winning a national title in one of seven men’s classes and two women’s classes (right hand only). Among those whose dream is realized is Dave Patton, who wins his first national title.
The 1979 Seated Nationals features several upsets. Al Turner, who hasn’t suffered a loss in seated competition since 1974, finishes out of the money in fourth place in the 220-lb class. Steve Stanaway also takes fourth in the 185-lb class, which is a result to which he is not accustomed. The great Moe Baker comes out of retirement after a 6-year break, but loses to east coast superstar Dan Mason. Dan is subsequently bested by Cleve Dean in the finals of the super-heavyweight division. Though Dan hasn’t lost a Nationals or Worlds in over three years, Cleve simply plays with him! (And this is Cleve’s first seated contest!)
June 10th, 1995
The right arm divisions of the 1995 AAA National Championships are contested in Pocatello, Idaho. Pullers from 32 states are present, vying for national titles in one of seven women’s classes and twelve men’s classes. Seven competitors manage to successfully retain their titles from the previous year: Barry Hurst, Jack Sanders, Ron Bath, Dave Randall, Margie Cziria, Elaine Blik, and Mary McConnaughey. Bill Brzenk wins his first AAA national title and Florida’s Ray Taglione wins his sixth! The Ed Jubinville Memorial Award, which recognizes athletic achievement as well as promotional efforts, is given to Elaine Blik and Ray Darling.
June 11th, 2011
The 8th annual Pattaya International Arm Wrestling Championship is held in Thailand. The tournament, Thailand’s biggest, features three right arm men’s classes (75 kg, 85 kg, and 95 kg) as well as an open women’s class. 15,000 Thai baht is to be awarded to the winners of each class (approximately $500 US) and 5,000 to the runners-up. Considering the sport of armwrestling is relatively new in Thailand, the contest receives considerable media attention and attracts a total of 110 competitors, with average class sizes approaching 30 entries. Miss Yaowaluck Saenboonsiri wins the women’s class, Wittaya Meemuey wins the heavyweight crown, Ronachai Jitjumnong is the middlweight champion, and Prasart Kalayanithikul takes the lightweight class.
June 12th, 2004
The inaugural Ultimate Armwrestling “Pull at the Plaza” unfolds in Las Vegas, Nevada. This pro/am tournament receives a strong turnout due to over $22,000 in cash and prizes being offered as well as the fact that the event is being filmed by Fox Sports. First place winners in the pro classes include Allen Fisher, Mike Selearis, John Brzenk, Matt Girdner, Chris Chandler, Kevin Bongard, Travis Bagent, Elaine Blik, and Joyce King. Also in attendance are many other elite pullers, such as Steve Rau, Neil Pickup, Ron Bath, Marcio Barboza, Farid Uzmanov, Eric Woelfel, Clay Rosencrans, Tamara Mitts, Nicole Cisco, Cynthia Yerby, Bryan Johnson, and Tom Nelson! The big money winner is Kevin Bongard, who, in addition to the $900 he wins for finishing first in his left hand class and third in his right hand class, walks away with $5,000 more for winning a raffle held among the top three finishers in each pro class!
June 13th, 1998
The 1998 USAA National Pro-Am Armwrestling Championship is held in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. John Brzenk, a regular event attendee, wins two right hand classes as well as the overall. His little brother Bill is also present and wins the pro men’s right 198-pound class. Right and left double winners include all three women’s champions (Judy Dodd, Carolyn Fisher, and Sherry Mundy), as well as 132-pound puller Dobbs Presley. And teenager Kenny Hughes, of California, has a great day: he beats legendary Canadian puller Dave Hicks to win the right hand 154-pound class!
June 14th, 1980
The 1980 AAA Seated Nationals are held in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Of the nine right hand classes contested (seven for the men and two for the women), five are won by the previous year’s champions: Dave Patton, Harvey Frank, Johnny Walker, Cleve Dean, and Cindy Baker. After losing to Cleve at the 1979 AAA Seated Nationals in the super heavyweight division, Dan Mason steers clear of Mr. Dean and drops back to the 242-pound class to win a national title in that class instead. And 20-year old Dave Patton is honoured with two special awards: one for Armwrestler of the Meet and another for Armwrestler of the Year!
June 15th, 2013
The open left and right arm divisions of the 2013 USAF Unified National Armwrestling Championships are contested. Though turnout for the event is the lightest in twelve years, those in attendance are ready to battle for national titles and to qualify to attend the WAF World Championships in Poland. Isaac Luna, Joseph Cordova, Michal Hann, Chris Kaufman, Paul Fischer, and Sophie Oppenheimer all manage to win both their left and right hand classes.
June 16th, 2013
The inaugural World Bar Arm Wrestling tournament is held at Señor Frogs Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. World Bar Arm Wrestling is the brainchild of Marvin Cohen, a man who has been promoting professional armwrestling events on and off for 40 years (primarily through the World Professional Armwrestling Association, Pro Arm Sports, and Over the Top). The contest offers significant cash prizes in eight men’s classes (0-160 lbs, 161-190 lbs, 191-220 lbs, 221+ lbs – same for left and right hands) as well as an open right hand women’s class. The tournament is arranged on short notice, and consequently suffers from low attendance. However those who attend are among America’s best: John Brzenk, Travis Bagent, Dave Chaffee, Allen Fisher, Cobra Rhodes, AJ Henson, Chris Chandler, Nick Zinna, and Bill Logsdon to name a few. Mixed martial artist legend Ken Shamrock is also on hand to emcee the event. Allen Fisher, AJ Henson, and Travis Bagent all win their respective left and right hand classes. In doing so, they each earn two keys in addition to their prize money. A total of nine keys are handed out, one of which starts a $40,000 dollar Custom Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle. The bike is ultimately won by Allen Fisher. A terrific award for a man with such a storied pulling career!
June 17th, 2001
The AWI ESPN/Pro Football and World Pro Armwrestling Championships are held at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nevada. After more than 23 years of organizing armwrestling events featuring professional pullers as well as athletes from professional football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, AWI founder Tony Celeste calls it a day with this final event. This time, the Dallas Cowboys win the pro football title, while Kevin Bongard emerges victorious in the pro lightweight division and veteran puller Karen Curavoo wins the pro women’s division. And the pro heavyweight division is won by the man who has accumulated more AWI titles than any other puller: John Brzenk.
June 18th, 1988
The 1988 AAA Seated Nationals are held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A total of 95 competitors take part, each aspiring to win a national title in one of eight men’s right hand classes or one of three women’s right hand classes. Of the 11 champions, 7 had also won AAA Stand-Up National titles just 5 weeks earlier! These include Gabe Accardi, Jerry Janning, George Givens, Fred Decker, Richard Lupkes, Bonnie Dohm, and Carolyn Liebel. Other first place winners include Jim Northern, who wins his fifth right hand AAA Seated National title in six years, and Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, who wins his very first national title. The AAA Male and Female Armwrestlers of the Year, as voted on by members of the AAA, are also announced. Jim Northern and Grace Ann Swift are the winners.
June 19th, 2004
Travis Bagent hosts the Big Arm Classic in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The main event is the 78 kg right hand Put Up or Shut Up Supermatch, which commands a $1,000 entry fee of interested competitors. Due to the sizable investment and the stiff level of competition expected, only three people show up to pull in the round robin supermatch: Sweden’s Andreas Rundstrom, Canada’s George Iszakouits, and Vepkhia Samkharadze of the Republic of Georgia. The supermatch ends in controversy. After 11 minutes of pulling, the final match between George and Vepkhia is stopped: Goerge is called on an elbow foul. A heated discussion ensues—George does not feel it’s an elbow foul because his tricep maintained contact with the pad and his elbow tip did not go beyond the perimeter of the pad. Neither puller is interested in continuing, so the match is eventually declared a draw. Both pullers split the money: each makes $500.
In regular tournament action, Wyoming’s Devin Bair is the big winner. He wins two keys by taking first place in two right arm classes, giving him a couple of chances to win a brand new 4-wheeler. One of his keys starts the vehicle and he gets to take it home!
June 20th, 1981
AWI NFL Super Classic IV is held at Caesars Tahoe Hotel and Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The event features a pro football division consisting of two players from each participating NFL team, as well as two professional armwrestler divisions: pro men’s light heavyweight (up to 210 lbs) and pro women. 26-year old linebacker Scott Studwell wins the pro football title for the Minnesota Vikings. Theresa Dione wins the pro women’s class. And Johnny Walker takes back the light heavyweight crown from Clay Rosencrans, who took it from him at the 1980 Super Classic.
June 21st, 1998
AWI NFL Super Classic XVI is held at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this event, the spotlight is on the men’s pro middleweight division (up to 190 lbs). Californian Gary Stain wins this tough class, ahead of Utah’s Kevin Bongard, David James, and New York’s Jason Vale.
June 22nd, 2002
The final day of competition of the 2002 European Armwrestling Championships takes place in Breclav, Czech Republic. 19-year old Ukrainian Rustam Babayev wins his first senior class right-hand European title, which he adds to the first left-hand title he won two days earlier. These are the first major titles won by the eastern European phenom—over the next 10+ years he would go on to win every single double elimination tournament in which he competed!
June 23rd, 2012
The Tennessee Muscle armwrestling tournament is held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The event receives 175 entries, which is believed to be an attendance record for a Tennessee tournament. Sam Bowling, Ron Bath, and Glenn Brooks all manage to win both their right and left arm classes in the open division.
June 24th, 2005
John Brzenk takes part in his first Professional Armwrestling League (PAL) Armfight in Yalta, Ukraine. He competes against Taras Ivakin for the right hand PAL world super heavyweight title. As a native Ukrainian, Taras has many supporters at the event, but so does John, whose legend precedes him. Taras’ powerful toproll manages to get John in bad position on a couple of occasions, but John proves to have too much arm strength. This becomes particularly apparent in the matches that go to straps. John wins the title with a score of 4-2, and goes on to participate in several PAL armfights over the course of the following years.
June 25th, 2011
The second day of competition of the 2011 AAA National Championships takes place in Buffalo, New York. Only two athletes manage to win right hand titles in the open class to add to the left hand titles they won the day before: Pennsylvania’s Storm Chellino and Connecticut’s Ron Klemba. Considering all titles (left and right, in the open and masters), this brings Ron’s total number of AAA national titles to 20!
June 26th, 2004
The final day of competition of the 2004 European Armwrestling Championships takes place in Gdynia, Poland. Men’s and women’s senior (open) right hand competition is on the agenda. The level of competition is incredibly high. To give an idea, these are some of the first place winners on the day: Roman Tsindiliani, Cvetan Gashevski, Rustam Babayev, Artem Klimenko, Jan Germanus, Alexey Semerenko, Alexey Voevoda, and Irina Makeeva!
June 27th, 1987
The 1987 AAA Seated Nationals are held in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Entries are up 65% over the previous year’s event (possibly due in part to the release of Over the Top earlier in the year?). The winners of this right arm only contest are made up of a who’s who of dominant ‘80s pullers: Florida-great Jim Northern wins his fourth right-hand AAA Seated National title in five years, fellow-Floridian Bobby Hopkins wins his fifth in five attempts, Virginia’s Dave Patton wins his seventh in seven attempts, Bonnie Dohm and Gabe Accardi win their fourth straight, while Connecticut’s own George Givens wins his fifth in a row!
June 28th, 2012
PAL Armfight 42 is held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Four supermatches are on the card: all between elite North American and elite Eastern European pullers. Michael Todd proves to be too much for Sergey Tokarev and wins by a score of 6-0. Todd Hutchings has just a bit more in the hook than pound-for-pound champ Khadzimurat Zoloev and wins by a score of 6-0, though the matches are tough. Tim Bresnan loses to Andrey Pushkar by a score of 5-1, perhaps pushing himself a bit too much by participating in two major supermatches in close succession (Tim had a very close supermatch with Devon Larratt just three weeks earlier). But the biggest story of the evening is Devon winning his left-hand supermatch with top ranked Mr. Pushkar. Hardly anyone had given Devon a serious chance of winning the match, but he did so in decisive fashion. Devon assumes the #1 left hand ranking in the world, and becomes the first person to ever hold the overall #1 ranking with both arms at the same time!
June 29th, 2012
Day 1 of competition the USAA National Pro-Am Armwrestling Championship takes place in Hartford, Connecticut. The masters classes (age 40+) are contested, and Norm Devio, Ron Klemba, Ron Ermini, Jim Fitzsimmons, and Badger Drewes are all double winners (winning their respective left and right arm classes). Norm’s achievement is particularly impressive, considering he is almost 72 years old!
June 30th, 1990
The 1990 AAA Stand-Up Nationals are held in College Park Georgia. 175 pullers are in attendance at this right arm only contest hosted by Bert and Diane Whitfield. Leslie Whims, Ray Taglione, Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, Johnny Walker, Jim Northern, and Grace Ann Swift each successfully defend the stand-up national titles they won the year before. Jerry Janning and John Brzenk are two other elite pullers who win their class. All first place finishers qualify to attend the WAWF World Championships to be held in Houston, Texas, later in the year.
Researched and Written by Eric Roussin