Monday, December 13, 2010

Arm Wrestling

I remember when my director (then counterpart) first told me that her husband was a professional sports trainer. What sport, I asked. Football (soccer for Americans)? Volleyball? No, she replied, arm wrestling. What?! That's a sport? And there are trainers for it?

Yes, I was ignorant of the sport of arm wrestling. I had seen it on TV while flipping past ESPN a few times, but I never really thought of it as a sport. However, Natasha's husband is a trainer, and he's a pretty good one at that. (He used to compete, and he looks it, but he mostly sticks to training others now.)

This past week he was in America for the World Armwrestling Championships USA ( in Mesquite, Nevada. Three (or four? I forget exactly) of the athletes he trained were going to compete. After a quick Google News search, I found a couple interesting articles about the event.

This one from a local paper describes the fascination some Russian athletes had with local Salvation Army Santas. I can imagine their interest because while I have seen lots of strange things in Kazakhstan, I haven't seen a Ded Moroz standing outside ringing a bell and people walking up and giving him/her money. Really, if it wasn't ingrained in your culture, wouldn't you think that was strange?:

The next one is from the WSJ, and it covers the controversy and politics associated with on the top levels of the sport. One quote featured in the story: "You want to get the best grip possible. A lot of these guys don't use chalk so their hands can get kind of sweaty and slippery." Another quote: ""We train with the guys. The stronger the competition, the better."

And how did my director's husband do? Well apparently, he's a pretty good trainer. One of the girls he trains got first in the youth category for 50 kilo left and 50 kilo right. She then entered the women's category and won the 50 kilo right. His brother, who he used to train, won the 100 kilo men's right category. Full results can be found at:

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