Fatboys Arm Wrestling Challenge takes over East Bethel this Saturday

The eyes of the sports world will be focused squarely on East Bethel this Saturday, as arm-sports enthusiasts of all ages, sizes, genders, and experience levels will come together for the Fatboys Arm Wrestling Challenge.

The action kicks off at 5 p.m., and will feature both the open-invite tournament as well as an all-star clash between Adam Kruger and John Whitaker, two of the top five arm wrestlers in the state. Event organizer Josh Handeland says he expects around 40 competitors to participate, and the competition will be divided into five different weight classes to level the playing field (according to the website, you're allowed to strip down to make weight if need be).

If competitive arm wrestling seems like a new concept for Minnesota, that's because it sort of is. Sure, pros like Richard "The Minnesota Man of Muscle" Lupkes have been pulling arms and taking names since the '80s, but according to Handeland, finding competition locally hasn't always been easy to come by.

"I found out that there were arm wrestling competitions back around 2006, but I couldn't find any events happening in Minnesota," he recalls. "So a few friends and I just started doing it ourselves, training and going to competitions in other states. Eventually, more people found out that we were doing it, and asked if they could come and train with us. Eventually, we sort of had a team."

The real momentum for Handeland and his band of aspiring gladiators came when Fatboys Bar and Grill reached out, offering a venue for the competitions.

"We usually hold an event once every three or four months at Fatboys," says Handeland. "We get a mix of people who train and come out to compete regularly, plus guys who have never done it before but have beaten all of their friends and decide to give it a shot."

Although this may sound like a total tough-guy sport, it isn't just for guys.

"Some women come out and compete, but we get like 10 times more guys than women," he says. "We run a women's division, but sometimes there are only like two or three people who show up. We need more women to come out."

Regardless of your gender, Handeland explains that the keys to success in the world of one-armed grappling are the same for everyone.

"Don't be too overconfident," he says. "Just because you can beat your friends doesn't mean you're going to beat everyone in the tournament. Some guys think they can just show up and get drunk and it's not serious; I take it really seriously. I want to be a world champion."

While the idea of drunk dudes (and lady-dudes) slamming each others' arms may be a misconception, there is one popular stereotype about competitive arm wrestling that does ring true.

"If you show up wearing a hat, you're going to have to turn it backwards so that you don't hit the other person with the brim."

There is a $20 entry fee (per arm), and the top three in each division will be showered with cash and glory (the cash is dependent on the number of participants, but the glory is immeasurable, obviously).



Fatboys Arm Wrestling Challenge
Saturday, March 10
Fatboys Bar and Grill
21383 Ulysses St., East Bethel
Weigh-Ins: 3-4:30 p.m., Event Start: 5 p.m.
$20/tournament entry; free for spectators

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