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Arm Wrestling as a competitive sport and all you need to know about it

Combat sports’ craze is going ever so quickly all around the globe. While Boxing and MMA remain the frontrunners when it comes to professional competitive combat sports, some other niche sports like Arm Wrestling, for instance, are certainly gaining popularity as well.

While not everyone has tried their hands at boxing or MMA, almost every one of us has certainly tried their hands at arm wrestling at one point in our lives or the other. For instance, just the sheer pleasure of beating your friend or a classmate at arm-wrestling and consequently boasting about your arm strength was enjoyed by kids while growing up in India.


However still, not many people in the country are too aware of the workings of arm-wrestling as a competitive sport.


A young American journalist, Bill Soberanes from California was the founder of the organized sport back in 1952. Later on, in 1962 Soberanes collaborated with Dave Devoto and they formed the World Wrist Wrestling Championship. The event was a major hit and thus the sport just took off from there.

Indian arm wrestling Federation was formed in the year 1977. The organization became the nation’s premier arm wrestling organizing and sanctioning body, working hard to promote arm-wrestling in the country and make it a popular professional sport.


The rules and regulations for arm wrestling are designed to create an even playing field and also prevent broken bones. Below are some of the official 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.

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

– Left-handed play was outlawed in 1975.

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

Arm wrestling game in action

– To make a winning pin player must touch the opponent to the touchpad.

– A false start is a foul.

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

– Players will forfeit the match with a third foul.

– Players may not, at any time, touch their bodies to their hand.

– 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.


The biggest championship in the sport is the World Arm-Wrestling Championship. It is hosted by a different country every year and features the sports’ top athletes from all around the globe competing in various different weight classes. India has interestingly previously held three World Championships in 1980 and 86 in Kolkata and later in 1997 in Guwahati.

While the sport has had many legendary champions over the years, two, in particular, stand tall: the American John Brzenk and the Canadian Devon Larratt.

In India, the IAWF hosts the National Arm Wrestling Championship in across about 10 ten weight classes for men, women as well as children.


Just like any other sport and combat sport, in particular, arm wrestling has its own share of gruesome injuries that tend to happen to athletes. The most common injury is the humeral shaft fracture. Other common injuries also include shoulder injuries, muscle strain, and less commonly pectoralis major rupture.

Such injuries not only happen to trained athletes who compete at the highest level but have also happened to amateurs often in freakish manners and are extremely painful.





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