But what about arm wrestling? It is also quite a popular sport in some parts of the world.
Arm wrestling is a form of wrestling in which two opponents sit facing each other with their hands together and elbows firmly placed on a table surface. They attempt to force each other’s arm and whoever succeeds is declared the winner. This sport is a combination of power, strength, endurance, technique and resistance.
In the same way that freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers use various daavs (moves) to win a fight, an arm wrestler uses different techniques like the hook, top roll, and press to win a battle.
Did you know that there is an Indian arm wrestling federation based in Hyderabad?
There are also global arm wrestling rankings for countries. India is currently ranked 41st on this list. Kazakhstan is currently ranked number 1.
To learn more about this interesting sport which has nearly 50 countries in the world rankings, TimesofIndia.com caught up Michael Todd, an American professional arm wrestler, who has won as many as 20 national titles and 16 world titles. The 49-year-old arm wrestling champion explained how this sport falls under the category of combat sports, its rules, techniques, strategies and much more…
You’ve been arm wrestling for over three decades now. Tell us, what are the techniques used in Arm-Wrestling? What are the movements and different styles of this sport?
Arm wrestling is a combat sport. It is an individual sport. There are three basic moves in arm wrestling. The first is the most commonly used – turn it into a hook and turn the shoulder behind. This is a neck twist out of the stream and do the shoulder press. The next is to turn it into a hook and slide it out of your body. The most advanced move is the top roll where you bring your knuckles high and pull your opponent’s wrist towards you, tuck them back and drop them to the side. It’s the least likely to hurt you and the most effective. But it takes skill to execute. When an opponent has a big arm, they probably have a good hook. So I advise you to go in the opposite direction.
Could you tell us a bit more about the nuances of this sport?
To be successful at arm wrestling, you need to understand the three basic techniques. The thing about these three basic techniques is that there are variations to each technique. Slight adjustments can be made to the wrist, hand, arm, shoulder, etc. To be good at arm wrestling, you have to be able to counter each of these moves. A lot of people think it’s just a matter of strength. So a lot of times people say to me, “Oh, that guy is so much stronger than you.” No. His bench muscles are stronger, my arm wrestling muscle is very developed. Arm wrestling is one of those sports – if you know how to arm wrestle, it’s just a matter of who is the strongest. When both guys know how to arm wrestle, the stronger one comes out on the right side. So you have to be able to perform techniques, counter techniques, but ultimately it’s core strength – it’s a strength sport.
What are the main differences between arm wrestling and mat wrestling? Are there any chances of getting hurt?
What’s different with arm wrestling is that even though it’s a combat sport, you don’t get punched in the face. You could have a broken arm. You might have a torn bicep. But your risk of injury compared to traditional combat sports is much lower. It’s something you could do better as you get older. In most sports, as you age, at 40 you are old. Arm wrestlers begin to reach their best around this age. There are guys out there who are good in their twenties and thirties. I won my first national title when I was 27, then I won for 10 years straight after. But, I just turned 49, and I still feel like I was taken care of. I still have a place to go. In most sports, you’re not going to see that. You continue to improve as you age (arm wrestling).
What made you choose the sport of arm wrestling?
I’ve been arm wrestling for 32 years. I went to my first arm wrestling competition when I was 17 and my family thought I was crazy. They said, ‘what are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m going to arm wrestle with a bunch of people. And they were like, ‘you gonna pay for this?’ and I said to myself ‘yes, I will pay the entry fee because I want the trophy’. I didn’t have any trophies because I didn’t play any team sports. So if I went to my friend’s house and he had a big trophy shelf, I didn’t have that. I have kept all the trophies I have won over the past 32 years. I love this sport. I chose this sport – not even on purpose. I fell in love after the first competition. I have always been a good athlete. There are many other professional sports (that) I could have played and made a lot more money. But I probably wouldn’t have had so much fun.
Do you think arm wrestling should become an Olympic sport?
When I was younger, I thought it was a travesty that arm wrestling wasn’t in the Olympics. I still feel that to some degree. But I now also have the feeling that the Olympics are no longer the way to become mainstream. I think through social media, through entertainment, and everything we have these days, all arm wrestling needs is to get exposure. The Olympics would have been amazing. It would have been spectacular. I’ve been on the world stage, played the national anthem, have this gold medal around my neck and felt amazing. I can only imagine what it would have been like to have that at the Olympics. For now, I don’t see it.
You traveled to India for the Pro Panja League. What enthusiasm have you seen among the Indians for arm wrestling?
I’ve shaken a lot of hands since I’ve been here and you have some really strong people here.
What’s the story behind your nickname – “The Monster”?
I was nicknamed “The Monster” Michael Todd in 2006 at the National Arm-Wrestling event by Neil Pickup. He is a two-time world middleweight champion. We shared a room at Circa Circus in Las Vegas. I got out of the shower, and I had a towel around me. I had gained 20 to 30 pounds since the last time he saw me. He was on the phone and I came out of the bathroom and he saw me and he said, ‘oh my god, Michael Todd is a freak’. So the next day he announced me as Michael ‘Monster’ Todd and that’s how it started.