CLEVELAND – It was once a way to settle childhood disputes. Then, a way for adolescents to decide who was stronger.
Now, it’s the basis for a league of men and women from all walks of life, trying to lay claim to the title, best arm wrestler in the world.
The World Armwrestling League is the largest professional arm-wrestling league in the world. The league is based in Chicago, but they take their show on the road all over the country, making a stop in Cleveland on June 14th. A sort of home match for Bryan, Ohio native, Quinlan Mendez.
“I was always super strong when I was younger. I was always arm wrestling my older cousins. All through high school, grade school and stuff like that, I’ve always arm wrestled. It was just like a test of strength, everybody wanted to arm wrestle me,” says Mendez.
Mendez has been in the WAL for 5 years and couldn’t be happier. “They have the best arm wrestlers,” he says. “The spotlight. They put on the biggest shows, the best shows.”
Jason Zone Fisher works as the pit reporter for the WAL and says the whole thing is crazy. “We travel all around the country and these are the best competitive arm wrestlers in the world. All different weight classes, there is a lot of money on the line and they’re all competing to be crowned champion and best arm wrestler in the world,” says Fisher.
The matches all take place in what they refer to as the pit and they’re just what you’d think. Two competitors with their elbows on the table, hands locked in a tight grip, trying to use a combination of strength and force to pin the others wrist to the pad.
It’s a sport without household names or million dollar contracts. It’s built for competitive guys like Quinlan, who just loves to arm wrestle and has a dream of being the best.
Mendez says,“Everybody wants to win that hammer. That’d mean the world to me, that’s what I’ve been working for, to be crowned the WAL Champion.”