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Arm Wrestling: A Professional Sport

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
January 10, 2023 3:02 am

Arm Wrestling: A Professional Sport

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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January 10, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Dustin Tomlinson tells the story of how he discovered arm wrestling and decided to take his skill off of the hood of a truck and into the competative arena.

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That's 855-933-5252. And we return to our American stories. In the world of sports, there are several newcomers that have been making some waves. Slap fighting, competitive tag, and of course, arm wrestling.

While the competition has been around for ages, its foray into the world of being more than just a bar battle hasn't. Up next, a story about a professional arm wrestler. Let's get into it. We've got three older brothers. I'm the youngest. We're all built about the same. I think I'm the tallest, but yeah, I might be, I think I'm the second to the lightest.

Yeah. And I'm almost 300 pounds. So you always have something to prove being the youngest, you know, you gotta be Macho. My name's Dustin Tomlinson. I live in Anderson, Missouri. I've lived here my entire life. Growing up, I lived on a farm. We had about 50 head of cattle.

The high school I went to, um, my graduating class was just a little over 200 people for the whole County. So grew up turning ranches. I've always worked blue collar jobs.

I'm 26 years old right now. And for the last five years, I've been a industrial maintenance mechanic at chicken plants. And when I'm not working, I like to, uh, go canoeing a lot of fishing. I like to hunt whenever I get, get the time.

I like to shoot bows and I like to compete in arm wrestling. I have followed the sport of professional strong man for years, and there's one world class strong man, Brian Shaw that I've followed for a long time. And I've seen him on a YouTube video and I enjoyed the video. So I watched the next one that was put out by this channel.

And this was three years ago. And, uh, from that moment I got hooked. I realized it was a sport and growing up, everybody arm wrestles, you know, in small towns, especially if you're bigger and stronger. So everybody's competing in the high school cafeteria.

Everybody's competing in bars, everybody. Anytime you get a chance, I've arm wrestled on truck hoods, you know, in the middle of hay fields. And so once I realized this was a, an actual sport and you could go and compete against other guys who, who take it seriously and you could win prizes and money and you can get ranked nationally and internationally.

I thought, man, I want to see how far I can go with this. So I went to a tournament. My first tournament was in Kansas city. I went up there, I met some people, turned out there was a few people within driving distance of my house and that I could meet up with and they could show me and they've been huge help.

I can't thank them enough. There's a lot of cam camaraderie in the arm wrestling. It's really unique in that way because some sports, you know, especially that's one-on-one competitiveness and it's not team sports.

Some people are kind of tight lipped and they don't want to, they're not willing to help you. But around here, most people are willing to share their secrets with you. And you know, everybody just wants to see how good they can get. I think that's part of the attractiveness of it to me is because it's kind of just a small blue collar thing. Like you'd find in a, in a rural town growing up, you know, like I said, everybody growing up, everybody has done it. And then if you can take that and compete, you know, at a national level doing that, that makes it a blast, especially whenever there's good people that's willing to help you and, and push you.

I got the bug. First time I went to a tournament, they asked me if I'd ever arm wrestled before. And I said, well, yeah, who has an arm wrestled? And they said, no, have you ever arm wrestled on an actual arm wrestling table at a tournament?

And I said, no, I haven't. And they said, well, you probably need to enter the novice class. They had, at this event I went to, they had the professional division, amateur division and novice. And I said, well, I think I'll do the amateur. I said, I I've always done pretty good. You know, and everybody says that every arm wrestler you talk to is going to tell you like, well, I was never beat before I started arm wrestling, you know, and that was the case with me. So I did amateur and I ended up taking second place on both hands.

So I was tickled to death of that because that was honestly better than I was afraid I was going to do after, after I gripped up the first couple of guys, I was like, I might be in over my head, but it worked out pretty good. And so it only took me about four tournaments over the next eight months before I felt comfortable enough that I entered the professional division because I was winning. I got second place on my first two tournaments. After that, I was getting first place in the amateur division and I thought, well, I need to kick it up a notch. So I went up to the professional division, started entered the pro side and yeah, that's what I've been doing since I'm in the super heavyweight division. So arm wrestling's broke up kind of like you would have in boxing or MMA or high school wrestling or something like that. There's weight divisions and I'm in the super heavyweight division, which depending on which league you're at, it varies, but it's generally right around 240 pounds and up.

There's no cap on that. So I'm sometimes arm wrestling guys are 430 pounds, you know, that a hundred pound advantage sometimes just too much. So yeah, a lot of the top guys in the super heavyweight division, like top in the world are rather large individuals. Arm wrestling's a really specific sport. So you can take somebody that's really, really strong in a gym or in another sport like bodybuilding or powerlifting or something. It doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be a good arm wrestler. Most of the time they're not because they haven't specifically trained arm wrestling specific muscles like your hand, your wrist, your forearm. It's all really dialed into like, like arm wrestling training when you're doing weight training is very, very specific. Now some guys will do full body and there's some benefit to that.

There's definitely a method to it. Now, if you, if you just arm wrestle somebody in a bar or something like that, it's probably going to be pretty sloppy and it's really, really dangerous. I've seen two guys break their arms in person. My very first practice, I watched the kid break his arm. I was standing right next to him and it almost made me not want to do it.

I really had to talk myself into keep going after that, but that's kind of the dangerous side. So there's a reason for the way it's done in a tournament or in a professional setting. So you have a hand peg that your non-competing hand, you have to hold onto the hand peg. And what that does is help keep your body square with your arm.

So you're not turning away from your hand. It's a pulling sport. It's a lot of tug of war. You're trying to pull them to your side of the table and they're trying to pull you to their side of the table because the more stretched out you get, the more disadvantaged you're at. Everybody has their own unique style of pulling.

I'm what they call a top roller. I have a big hand and a strong hand. Most of the time my hand is more dominant than my opponent's. And because my arm is fairly long, I can get higher, use that high ground and fold their hand back. And so that's called top rolling. Other people that might not have such a strong hand, they like to hook, which is a lot of times what you see in bars or in pictures or movies or whatever.

It's where you're really cupped in with your wrist turned in and two guys are just grinding it out in the middle of the table. There's a lot more than just arms and hands involved. You're pulling with your back. You're pulling with your core. You're doing where your feet are at are important. How you're holding the peg with your non-competing hands important.

So there's tons of things go into it. And then the real fight is the center of the table. Who has better hand position?

Who can pull that other person half an inch towards them or towards their side of the table or whatever to throw them off a little bit. And then a lot of times these matches won't last more than five, six seconds. But the setup, trying to get the grip and get the rest to make it a fair setup. Sometimes that'll take five minutes just for a five second match because guys are competing for every little advantage. Every millimeter you can get better in the setup in the grip could be the difference between winning and losing.

And when there's money on the line or pride or rankings or whatever, you're going to fight for every inch you can get. There's several ways to get fouls. They have elbow pads. Your elbow has to stay on. If your elbow slides off the back of the pad or the side or the front, or if you just lift it up off the pad, that's an elbow foul. And the same thing with your non-competing hand. If it comes off of the hand peg, that's a foul. You have to have one foot on the floor at all times. If both feet come off the floor for whatever reason, if you're just free hanging, you know, that's a foul.

You can get a foul for just not obeying commands like in the setup. A lot of high level matches end up losing, you know, losing or winning based on fouls. And nobody wants to see that. As arm wrestlers and as fans of the sport, you want to see them see who's stronger. You want to see who's put more work in. You want to see who can pin the guy to your side of the table. But the environment is always electric. Right now I'm number one left hand super heavyweight in Missouri.

I'm getting dangerously close to getting on that top 20 list for North America. And I do not like losing at all. I know that's part of the process, but it just never sets well with me. So yeah, I come from a big family, a lot of testosterone with all boys.

Didn't have any girls in the house. My poor mom growing up had to deal with all of us being rowdy. So I was always trying to out wrestle them and out arm wrestle them and, you know, be better at them than football or basketball or whatever it was. So I'm extremely competitive by nature. I get intimidated, but you can't run from it. You got to embrace it. If I'm not a little scared going into a match or a tournament where there's higher level pullers, then something's wrong.

I got to be scared. That's what motivates you. It's an adrenaline rush unlike anything else I've ever done. I didn't see myself as an athlete, you know, and then a couple of years after high school, I found arm wrestling as a sport.

Now I train all the time. And a special thanks to Katrina Hein for gathering the audio and Amonti Montgomery for the production and editing. And a special thanks to Dustin Tomlinson for sharing his passion for the sport that he plays that wasn't a sport that long ago. And by the way, we love telling stories about sports before they were sports. My favorite, one of my favorites of all time was how NASCAR came to be. And it started with moonshiners and just guys running cars in cornfields for just sheer fun. And of course, lawnmower racing, which I think will be an Olympic sport one day, I hope, because it's just so much fun to watch. And Dustin's story, well, we love telling these stories of rural America because, well, in the end, things like arm wrestling, well, you got a lot of time to kill. And so you turn things into sports and passions because you don't have a lot around you. And ultimately you have to fill the time. As he said, he grew up with three older brothers and he was the tallest and second lightest.

But he said he always had something to prove the story of Dustin Tomlinson and how he became a professional arm wrestler here on Our American Story. A major regret could soon hit millions of Americans. It could hit without warning. It could devastate your net worth. It could wipe away years of hard work and savings in the blink of an eye.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-10 18:28:02 / 2023-01-10 18:34:19 / 6

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