The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

September 17, 2010

Arm wrestling tournament on tap at Rumors

JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s one of the biggest sports around, according to Justin Mynatt, but it rarely gets any sort of mainstream exposure.

“It’s kind of an underground sport,” he said of professional arm wrestling.

A Joplin resident who is also the Kansas state arm wrestling champion, Mynatt is helping to organize this weekend’s tournament at 5 p.m. Saturday at Rumors Cocktail Lounge, 1825 W. Seventh St.

“It’s basically an open professional tournament being put on by Kansas Arm Sports,” said Mynatt. “Anybody can enter it, and they’ll be mixing in with some pros.”

He said that arm wrestlers from Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tulsa, Pittsburg and Wichita will be on hand to put their strength to the test.

Mynatt won’t be competing, but will serve as the announcer and handle bracketing and graphing duties. But he sees his main duty as serving as an ambassador for the sport.

“I go to a lot of the tournaments all over the United States,” he said. “But it’s hard here in Joplin because nobody really arm wrestles or knows that it’s a professional sport. My main goal is to get locals involved and let Joplin know about it.”

Training

When stepping up to the table, don’t be fooled by the size of your opponent’s bicep.

“Arm wrestling has more to do with tendon strength than muscle strength,” said Mynatt. “There’s one guy, Ethan Fritsche, who has been arm wrestling since he was 12. He’s 165 pounds and doesn’t have a lot of muscle. He looks like the paperboy. But he’s got that tendon strength. I’m the Kansas state champ and weigh more than 200 pounds, but I can’t budge him.”

Training varies from competitor to competitor. Mynatt says he trains in much the same way that a power lifter would. Pull-up bars and lifting dumbbells with thick handles can help improve wrist and hand strength.

“I do a lot of wrist and forearm training,” he said. “A good wrist workout can take four hours.”

Rules

Prior to the start of the tournament, organizers will go over all the rules with participants, said Mynatt.

“The first thing we do is make sure they’re going to do this safely and know what to do if they get in a bad position,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

During a match, competitors will stand at opposite ends of the table. There will be pegs to hold on to with their free hand, and pads where they try to bring their opponent’s hand down into a pin.

A match can also be lost if a participant fouls out twice. Fouls include elbows coming up off the table or letting go of the grip.

“There are actually quite a few rules,” said Mynatt. “You want to stand square to the table and use your body. That’s how you win.”

‘Super match’

Participants will begin weighing in for the tournament at Rumors at 5 p.m. There will be several different weight classes for men and women, as well as classes for right- and left-handed competitors.

The main event for the evening will be a “super match” between Shane McLaughlin and Sam Stout.

McLaughlin recently took first place in right- and left-handed categories at the Dallas Super Show, while Stout took first in the amateur class for right hand, and fourth for left.

“Shane is a national champ, and Sam is a real up-and-comer,” said Mynatt.

There will be a cash prize for the winner of the super match, and trophies for first and second place in the open tournament. The overall winner will also receive an arm-wrestling sculpture, he said.

There is a $10 entry fee for the tournament, but no charge for spectators.

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