O.C. arm wrestling isn't for faint of heart
O.C. arm wrestling isn't for faint of heart
Arm-wrestling matches usually last seconds. But Big Daddy and Monster like to take their time.
The Tap House in Huntington Beach hasn't been as silent at any point during the day. You can't hear a pin drop, but you could hear an arm crack.
The two super-heavyweight arm-wrestlers are engaged in a tussle of epic proportions. Big Daddy has never lost in a championship match. Monster has won more than 30 consecutive matches. The crowd is mesmerized. Four-letter gasps are running rampant.
As the match reaches the two-minute mark, each man's right arm contorted in ways not thought possible, the positions of the two giant bodies is something at which to marvel. Monster is nearly on his knees, while his elbow remains glued to the arm-wrestling pad. The right arm of Big Daddy, astonishingly, seems to be carrying the weight of Monster's entire body and not budging.
Monster creeps back up to a standing position as he begins to gain the ounce of leverage that Big Daddy is willing to renounce. Two minutes seem like an eternity. Audience members are awed at the resilience of every bone in the men's massive limbs.
With the slightest twist of the elbow, Monster overtakes Big Daddy's right arm, pushing it to its breaking point before it reaches the pad. Monster wins the super-heavyweight championship of the Ultimate Armwrestling League and is awarded a bedazzled championship ring. Both men are sweating as if they've been jogging in the Las Vegas sun.
UAL founder Robert Drenk puts a microphone to Monster's lips and asks him to comment on the war that was just witnessed.
"Man, that is one strong guy," Monster says of Big Daddy.
That's understatement No. 1.
"This is a dangerous sport, people," Drenk says. "Don't try this at home."
And that's understatement No. 2.
Jerry "Big Daddy" Cadorette and Michael "Monster" Todd are two of the world's greatest arm-wrestlers and served as the main attraction at Saturday's showcase at the Tap House. Joining the main card was a battle between Ryan "The Freak" Clark and Kenny "Handsome Man" Hughes, and Geoff "Haleraiser" Hale and Jake "Rockstar" Smith.
But before the main card, which was stressful and radical at the same time, the scene at Tap House was extreme.
An amateur arm-wrestling tournament solicited some of the most impressive upper bodies that Orange County and surrounding territories had to offer.
Leg-workout warriors were not at a premium.
At least 200 muscle-men packed the venue, wishing to put their strength to the test, and ironically, it wasn't the guys with the most muscle who were guaranteed victory.
"You have to have a little of both when it comes to muscle and technique," Cadorette said. "You can't be the strongest guy and think you'll win, and you can't be the most technical guy and think you'll win. It's a good mix, but without technique, you're nothing."
Cadorette and Todd were the biggest trends in the building, but it was the subtleties that ruled the day.
1. The face transformation that arm-wrestlers undergo as a match begins is drastic. One second they are calm, laughing and breathing normally. The next second, they make a face as if they are about to sneeze but the sneeze doesn't come out. They begin to suck in their breath and tense their faces. The second the referee gives the signal to begin, their faces strain and turn red, as if they are bench-pressing their maximum weight. It's one of the more entertaining things to watch.
2. About 90 percent of the time, the preparation for the match takes longer than the match itself. An average match takes between five and 10 seconds to complete. The matches themselves are best three out of five, so the actual arm- wrestling can take place in less than a minute. But the hand and finger positioning is what usurps a majority of the match time. Arm-wrestlers spend about 10 seconds grappling before the referees begin to shape their hands in an equal and fair position. Wrestlers then spend more time arguing the position of their opponent's hand. They spread their fingers and turn their wrists in hope of garnering a slight advantage, one that is either not seen by the referee or not felt by the opponent.
3. The speed technique, from the viewpoint of an outsider, is a huge part of arm-wrestling. When the match begins, the guy that gets off the quickest has a great chance of winning. In other words, there are ways to win that put strength on the back burner. There is also the phenomenon of the wrestlers' hands coming apart, which calls for the referees to use a strap to tie the men's hands together. Many of the arm-wrestlers seemed to prefer the straps, so breaking the hands somewhat quickly was not an issue.
4. There are always women who love football and basketball, probably a good boxing match, but Saturday's turnout of female spectators and supporters was surprising. Yells from the crowd were uttered just as much by women as men. Jessica Harbour, one of two ringside girls, said, "These guys are so into their sport right now that I feel like they're not concerned with us whatsoever." The women that seemed to be most vital were those massaging the arms of their boyfriends and husbands between matches. And they had a technique of their own when it came to loosening the elbow.
Arm-wrestling isn't for the faint of heart. Each match has the potential to end in grisly fashion.
But what the league does stand for is friendly competition between extreme competitors. Geoff Hale and Jake Smith smacked, yelled and head-butted each other before and during their match. But after Hale emerged victorious, he and Smith embraced before Smith raised Hale's hand in the air and patted him on the stomach.
Opponents argued about technique and hand-positioning, but a match never ended without a showing of mutual respect. For spectators, the crowded bar meant an abundance of shoulder bumps and apologies.
No wrestling between opinions here. The UAL is it.
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