Arm wrestling

Arm wrestling (or armwrestling), also known as "armfighting" is a sport involving two participants. Each places one arm on a surface with their elbows bent and touching the surface, and they grip each other's hand. The goal is to pin the other's arm onto the surface, the winner's arm over the loser's arm. In the early years different names were interchangeably used to describe the same sport: "arm turning", "arm twisting", "arm wrestling", "Indian arm wrestling", "twisting wrists", "wrist turning", "wrist wrestling".[1] Organized armwrestling tournaments started being held in the 1950s.

Arm Wrestling
Two people arm wrestling.jpg
Two people with their arms in a starting position
Skill(s) requiredstrength, endurance, technique, resistance


Various factors can play a part in one's success in arm wrestling. Technique and overall arm strength are the two greatest contributing factors to winning an arm wrestling match. Other factors such as the length of an arm wrestler's arm, muscle and arm mass/density, hand grip size, wrist endurance and flexibility, reaction time, as well as countless other traits, can add to the advantages of one arm wrestler over another.[citation needed] It's sometimes used to prove who is the stronger person between two or more people. In competitive arm wrestling, as sanctioned by the United States Armwrestling Federation (USAF), arm wrestling is performed with both competitors standing up with their arms placed on a tournament arm wrestling table.[citation needed] Arm wrestling tournaments are also divided into weight classes as well as left and right-handed divisions. Furthermore, strict rules such as fouls given to penalties (such as the competitor's elbow leaving a matted area where the elbow is meant to remain at all times, or a false start), and trying to escape a possible arm pin by breaking the grip with the opponent may result in a loss at the table.[citation needed] Paraphrasing USAF rules, arm wrestlers must straighten their wrists without a time lapse of one minute during competition.[2]

An arm wrestling competition

The World Armwrestling Federation (WAF) was the universally recognized global governing body of professional arm wrestling and comprises 80 member countries.[3] However, due to the labeling of referees and competitors that were associated with PAL/URPA with the status of "Not in good standing" thus being suspended from WAF[4], many countries are jumping ship.

The International Federation of Armwrestling (IFA) is a democratic non-profit sport organization registered in Zurich, Switzerland and is recognized by TAFISA, the Association for International Sport for All.


  • armwrestling
    • stand-up armwrestling
    • sit-down armwrestling
  • wristwrestling
    • stand-up wristwrestling
    • sit-down wristwrestling

Top PullersEdit

The armwrestling historian Eric Roussin, founder of The Armwrestling Archives site, has elaborated a chonology of the top pullers along the history for right hand[5] and left hand[6] pullers. It's based on the results of the major professional events, including sit-down/stand-up wristwrestling and sit-down/stand-up armwrestling.

Men (Right Hand)Edit

In 1966 another organization started to hold World Championships: the International Federation of Arm Wrestlers. Few competitors competed in both, so a parallel ranking was provided. On 1971 both rankings were unified.

Start Date #1 Puller Defeated / (Ahead Of) Event Top Spot
February 11, 1961   Duane “Tiny” Benedix California Wristwrestling Championship 364 days
February 10, 1962   Earl Hagerman Duane “Tiny” Benedix World Wristwrestling Championship364 days
February 09, 1963   Duane “Tiny” Benedix Earl Hagerman World Wristwrestling Championship 364 days
February 08, 1964   Joe Schuler [a] Larry Cory World Wristwrestling Championship 1 year, 5 days
February 12, 1965   Arnie Klein Joe Schuler World Wristwrestling Championship 1 years, 3 days
February, 1966   Mike Rowe [b] Arnie Klein World Wristwrestling Championship 1 year, 87 days
May 13, 1967   Larry Finley [a] [b] Randy Petrini World Wristwrestling Championship 278 days
February, 1968   Duane “Tiny” Benedix [b] (Larry Finley) World Wristwrestling Championship 2 years, 90 days
May, 1970   Jim Dolcini [a] [b] George Witteman World Wristwrestling Championship 364 days
August 06, 1966   Lloyd Lampton [c] Arnie Klein IFAW World Championship 2 years, 41 days
September, 1968   Maurice “Moe” Baker [a] [c] John Torch IFAW World Championship 2 years, 241 days
May 14, 1971   Jim Dolcini Maurice “Moe” Baker World Wristwrestling Championship 1 year, 7 days
May 20, 1972   Maurice “Moe” Baker Jim Dolcini World Wristwrestling Championship 364 days
May 19, 1973   Bill Harrison(Maurice “Moe” Baker)World Wristwrestling Championship 364 days
May 18, 1974   Jim Dolcini [a] George Ludwigsen WWC National Championship 2 years, 194 days
November 27, 1976   Virgil Arciero Jim Dolcini WPAA World Championships 1 years, 353 days
November 15, 1978   Cleve Dean Virgil Arciero Supermatch (Las Vegas, USA) 1 years, 359 days
November 08, 1980   Virgil Arciero Cleve Dean Supermatch (Las Vegas, USA) 336 days
October 10, 1981   Jeremiah Christian Virgil Arciero World Wristwrestling Championship 1 year
October 10, 1982   Virgil Arciero [a] Cleve Dean AWI Pro Super Heavyweight World Championship 111 days
January 29, 1983   Cleve Dean Virgil Arciero AWI Pro Super Heavyweight World Championship 3 years, 179 days
July 26, 1986   Scott Norton Cleve Dean Over the Top World Championship 1 year
July 26, 1987   John Brzenk [a] Ed Arnold / (Richard Lupkes) Over the Top World Championship 174 days
January 16, 1988   Richard Lupkes John Brzenk Sands International 266 days
October 08, 1988   John Brzenk Richard Lupkes World Wristwrestling Championship 189 days
April 15, 1989   Richard Lupkes John Brzenk Can-Am Invitational (Barrie, Ontario, Canada) 1 year, 12 days
April 27, 1990   John Brzenk Richard Lupkes Yukon Jack National Championship 253 days
January 05, 1991   Gary Goodridge John Brzenk Super Bras de Fer (Paris, France) 204 days
July 28, 1991   John Brzenk Gary Goodridge Yukon Jack National Championship 3 years, 30 days
August 26, 1994   Cleve Dean Gary Goodridge / (John Brzenk) Yukon Jack National Championship 16 days
September 11, 1994   Zaur Tskadadze Cleve Dean WAF World Championships 348 days
August 25, 1995   Gary Goodridge Cleve Dean / (Zaur Tskadadze) Yukon Jack World Championship 2 years, 21 days
September 14, 1997   John Brzenk [a] Ron Bath USAA National Pro-Am Championship 7 years, 6 days
September 18, 2004   Ron Bath John Brzenk Strong Arm Calling 49 days
November 06, 2004   Alexey Voevoda John Brzenk / (Ron Bath) Nemiroff World Cup 357 days
October 29, 2005   Andrey Pushkar [a] Andrey Antonov Nemiroff World Cup 35 days
December 03, 2005   Farid Usmanov (Andrey Pushkar) WAF World Armwrestling Championships 140 days
April 22, 2006   John Brzenk Farid Usmanov Ultimate Armwrestling III (Las Vegas, USA) 2 years, 145 days
September 13, 2008   Devon Larratt John Brzenk Arm Wars “Deep Water” 4 years, 262 days
June 01, 2013   Denis Cyplenkov [a] Andrey Pushkar A1 Russian Open World Armwrestling Grand Prix 1 year, 55 days
July 26, 2014   Andrey Pushkar Denis Cyplenkov A1 Russian Open World Armwrestling Grand Prix 4 years, 112 days
November 14, 2018   Levan Saginashvili [a] Tsvetkov, Georgi WAF World Championship 1 year, 196 days


  • a Due to inactivity (12 months), injury or accident of previous dominant puller, the #1 spot is assumed by other one.
  • b Ranking based on Petaluma Results (1966-1971).
  • c Ranking based on IFAW Results (1966-1971).

Men (Left Hand)Edit

Start Date #1 Puller Defeated / (Ahead Of) Event Top Spot
September, 1977   John Woolsey Dean Christensen NAWA National Championships 2 years, 7 days
September 22, 1979   Cleve Dean [a] World Wristwrestling Championship 7 years, 22 days
October 12, 1986   Gary Goodridge [a] (Canada) 1 year, 131 days
February 20, 1988   Garvin Lewis Gary Goodridge Ontario Provincial Championships 2 years, 243 days
October 20, 1990   Gary Goodridge Garvin Lewis Canadian Stand-Up National Championships 1 year, 237 days
June 13, 1992   Steve Morneau (Gary Goodridge), (Garvin Lewis) Gloucester Fair International Armwrestling Championship 364 days
June 12, 1993   Gary Goodridge Steve Morneau Gloucester Fair International Armwrestling Championship 364 days
June 11, 1994   Steve Morneau Gary Goodridge Gloucester Fair International Armwrestling Championship 364 days
June 10, 1995   Garvin Lewis (Steve Morneau), (Gary Goodridge) Gloucester Fair International Armwrestling Championship 1 year, 364 days
June 08, 1997   Eric Woelfel [a] Mairbek Gioev Golden Bear International Tournament (Russia) 180 days
December 05, 1997   Alan Karaev Eric Woelfel WAF World Championship (India) 337 days
November 07, 1998   Vakhtang Javakhadze Alan Karaev WAF World Championship (Egypt) 264 days
July 29, 1999   Erekle Gurchiani Vakhtang Javakhadze European Armwrestling Championships 1 year, 1 day
July 29, 2000   Alan Karaev [a] Vakhtang Javakhadze World Armsport Championship 65 days
October 02, 2000   Len Houghton Earl Wilson Canadian Nationals 336 days
September 03, 2001   Dan Victor [a] (Earl Wilson) Harley Pull 230 days
April 21, 2002   Alan Karaev [a] Cleve Dean World Armsport Federation World Championship 165 days
October 03, 2002   Christian Binnie [a] Eric Woelfel Harley Pull 65 days
December 07, 2002   Travis Bagent Christian Binnie All-Niagara Armwrestling Championship 35 days
January 11, 2003   Christian Binnie Travis Bagent Reno Reunion Armwrestling Championship 140 days
May 31, 2003   Travis Bagent Christian Binnie AAA Nationals 1 year, 300 days
March 26, 2005   Earl Wilson Sylvain Perron / (Devon Larrat) Mike Gould Classic 364 days
March 25, 2006   Travis Bagent Earl Wilson Mike Gould Classic 4 years, 264 days
December 13, 2010   Devon Larratt Travis Bagent Supermatch - Arm Wars “Sin City” (Las Vegas, USA) 64 days
February 15, 2011   Travis Bagent Devon Larratt Supermatch - UAL Backyard Brawl 241 days
October 14, 2011   Andrey Pushkar Travis Bagent Nemiroff World Cup 258 days
June 28, 2012   Devon Larratt Andrey Pushkar Supermatch - PAL Armfight 42 (Las Vegas, USA) 2 years, 119 days
October 25, 2014   Travis Bagent Devon Larratt World Armwrestling League Atlantic City Qualifier 3 years, 240 days
June 21, 2018   Oleg Zhokh [a] Andrey Pushkar Lviv Open Cup 146 days
November 14, 2018   Levan Saginashvili [a] Osmanli, Ferit WAF World Championship 1 year, 196 days


The following table summarizes the accumulated time on the #1 spot. John Brzenk and Cleve Dean have been the most dominant pullers with the right hand. Travis Bagent and Cleve Dean have been ruling more time with the left hand. Very few pullers have succeeded to get the #1 spot with both hands for several years: Cleve Dean, Devon Larratt and Gary Goodridge.

(Minimum 4 years with any hand)

Puller Height Weight Right Hand Left Hand Total
  Duane “Tiny” Benedix 6'4" / 1.92 m 260 lb / 118 kg 4 years, 88 days 4 years, 88 days
  Jim Dolcini 6’0” / 1.83 m 200 lb / 91 kg 4 years, 20 days 4 years, 20 days
  Cleve Dean 6’7” / 2.01 m 460 lb / 209 kg 5 years, 189 days 7 years, 22 days 12 years, 211 days
  Gary Goodridge 6'3" / 1.91 m 240 lb / 109 kg 2 years, 225 days 4 years, 2 days 6 years, 227 days
  Garvin Lewis 242 lb / 110 kg 4 years, 242 days 4 years, 242 days
  John Brzenk 6'1" / 1.85 m 198 lb / 90 kg 13 years, 243 days 13 years, 243 days
  Travis Bagent 6'3" / 1.91 m 265 lb / 120 kg 10 years, 350 days 10 years, 350 days
  Andrey Pushkar 6'4" / 1.92 m 276 lb / 125 kg 4 years, 147 days 258 days 5 years, 40 days
  Devon Larratt 6’5” / 1.96 m 278 lb / 126 kg 4 years, 262 days 2 years, 183 days 7 years, 80 days

Competitive stylesEdit

John Brzenk was known mostly for his array of techniques which change almost every time he engaged in competition, even with the same opponent within the same match. As of summer 2008, John Brzenk was ranked #1 in North America.[7] Ron Bath is known for his use of the Top Roll technique which emphasizes a 'roll' of the wrist as he brings the opponent's wrist down.[citation needed] Devon Larratt is very well known for his endurance and tenacity. He uses a wide array of techniques during his matches, one of them being holding the first "hit" of his opponents and draining them out, and then counter attacking afterwards. He was the 2017 WAL (World Armwrestling League) Heavyweight champion left and right handed. Travis Bagent, like Brzenk, was known for his wide array of techniques, coupled with his massive strength and explosive style.[citation needed] Many of Bagent's matches have ended in seconds. Bagent was considered the best left-handed arm wrestler in the world and ranked second overall in North America, as of summer of 2008.[8]

Other competitors such as Matt Girdner, Michael Selearis, Sean Madera, Marcio Barboza, Christian Binnie, and Anthony Macaluso are known for their reliance on strength, coupled with the hook technique, where the wrist turns into a hooked grip after the referee has started the match.[citation needed] "The hook" or "hooking" is any move derived from the inside system of arm wrestling. The second generic system or style of arm wrestling is known as outside arm wrestling "the top roll" or "top rolling", while the "triceps press", "shoulder pressing", or "shoulder rolling" is often described as the third generic system or style of arm wrestling.[citation needed] Certain arm wrestlers depend on the straps,[clarification needed] such as Jason Vale, who won the 1997 Petaluma World Championships in the super heavy weight class at only 175 pounds using the strap technique.[citation needed]

The contestant on the right is in an injury-prone or "break arm" position. His shoulder must be in line with or behind the arm, as seen with the contestant on the left. This is cause for a referee to stop the match.

Many arm wrestlers will have a signature style or favorite technique, while others have enjoyed success by becoming extremely well rounded. Within each of the three broad technical systems of arm wrestling there are numerous clearly identifiable techniques which have been developed and enhanced over time.[citation needed] Great Britain's most successful arm wrestler and former two time European and World Middleweight Champion Neil Pickup is one of today's leading arm wrestlers, widely recognized as having originated and developed techniques to suit the genetic make up of individual arm wrestlers. Neil Pickup has enjoyed an amateur and professional career spanning more than 20 years, during which time he has won more than 60 International titles across five different weight classes on both his right and left arms. He has also trained numerous world champions, both male and female. This success has been largely attributed to his technical prowess, experience, and understanding of the athlete's whole body as a lever. He now also hosts a podcast for the WAL.[9]

Common rulesEdit

The rules and regulations for arm wrestling are designed to create an even playing field and also prevent broken bones. Different leagues have their own variations, but most use the same table specifications.[10] Below are some of the general arm wrestling regulations:

- The shoulder of both players must be in a square position before the match starts.

- All starts will be a “Ready…Go.” The cadence will vary.

- Competitors must start with at least one foot on the ground. After the “go” players may have both feet off the ground.

- Opposite hand must remain on the peg at all times.

- A pin cannot be made if the elbow is out of the pocket.

Arm wrestling match in action

- To make a winning pin player must take opponent's wrist below the plane of the touch pad. -This is not true. Any part of the wrist or hand (including fingers) below the pin line or touch pad is enough

- A false start is a warning. Two warnings equals a foul.

- Competitors will forfeit the match with a second foul.

- If opponents lose grip with one another, a strap is applied and the match is restarted.

- Intentional slip-outs are fouls, which occur when both player’s palm completely loses contact with competitor’s palm.

- Competitors may not, at any time, touch their body to their hand.

- Shoulders may not, at any time, cross the center of the table.

- The competitors will always conduct themselves in a sportsperson-like manner while at the tournament.

- The most important arm wrestling rule is the referee’s decision is final.


There are many resources available to help you train for the sport of armwrestling.[11] The best way to get involved in the sport is to find a local club and join their team. Many times they will have experienced competitors that will help you learn how to stay safe on the table, as well as techniques to help you succeed. There are many local tournaments throughout the U.S. that offer novice and/or amateur divisions for those just getting involved.[12]

Associated injuryEdit

Typical fracture

Arm wrestling puts enormous torque/torsion stress on the upper arm's humerus bone to a degree seen in few other physical activities.[13] Most people's bones are not accustomed to being significantly stressed in this direction, and severe injuries can occur. The arm typically fails because of a diagonal break at or below the midpoint between the shoulder and the elbow; this is known as the 'break arm' position. The most common injury is the humeral shaft fracture. Other common injuries also include shoulder injuries, muscle strain, golfers elbow, and less commonly pectoralis major rupture.

Major organizationsEdit

In popular cultureEdit

  • In the episode "Dead Lift" of the series The Streets of San Francisco (first broadcast May 5, 1977), where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an important role, we can see his friend Franco Colombu, himself a high-level bodybuilder, and also at the time competitor of athletic strength and contests of "strong men", make a showdown in a bar.
  • At the beginning of the film Predator (1987), the characters played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers improvised a showdown after a vigorous handshake.[15]
  • The film Vendetta dal futuro (1986) features arm wrestling.
  • The film Over the Top (1987) features a wrestling champion, played by Sylvester Stallone.
  • The film Addams Family Values (1993) opens with a showdown between Gomez and The Thing.
  • The Fly (1986 film) features an arm wrestling scene in which one of the individual's arms suffers a compound fracture.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons "Marge's Son Poisoning" (2005), Homer enters an armwrestling tournament.
  • The documentary Pulling John (2009), focuses on the battle for pre-eminence between heavyweights John Brzenk, Travis Bagent and Alexey Voevoda.[16]
  • The reality TV show Game of Arms (2014) showed teams of American competitors sacrificing everything to become the nations best armwrestler.[17]
  • In Italy, the term used for arm wrestling is braccio di ferro, and the famous cartoon character Popeye is also called Braccio di Ferro.
  • The term "Chinese Arm Wrestling" is sometimes used to refer to a battle of inches.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ WAF/USAF - Armwrestling Rules
  3. ^ WAF MEMBERS. World Armwrestling Federation
  5. ^ Chronology of the top armwrestlers of the planet (right arm), retrieved 2020-05-29
  6. ^ Chronology of the top armwrestlers of the planet (left arm), retrieved 2020-05-29
  7. ^ "Chronology of the Best Armwrestlers on the Planet (Men - Right Hand)". THE ARMWRESTLING ARCHIVES. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  8. ^ "Chronology of the Best Armwrestlers on the Planet (Men - Left Hand)". THE ARMWRESTLING ARCHIVES. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  9. ^ "Podcasts –". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  10. ^ "Regulations –". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  11. ^ "Training Information –". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  12. ^ "Event Calendar –". Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  13. ^ BJSM - Sign In Page
  14. ^
  15. ^ Guile's Theme Goes with Everything (world's most epic handshake)
  16. ^ Pulling John, retrieved 2020-02-26
  17. ^ Game of Arms, retrieved 2020-02-26

External linksEdit