Boardwalk Arm Wrestling Hopes
To Pin Down Queens Viewers

By Ben Abelson

Big burly men will once again be menacing skinny weaklings on Rockaway Beach this summer, but this time the little guys may win.

According to New York Arm Wrestling Association (NYAWA) President and Founder Gene Camp, this is just how the 25th Annual Queenboro ‘Golden Arm’ Amateur Championships on Aug. 11 may turn out.

College Point resident Krisztian Geleniser (center) won two weight classes in last year’s ‘Golden Arm’ arm wrestling champions, an event aimed at athletes of all shapes and sizes.

The event will bring together amateur arm wrestlers from all over the world to compete in 12 different weight classes, according to Camp. There are no residency requirements for any NYAWA events, so competitors from across the globe often show up. “We’ve got guys from Turkey, from Brazil, Poland, Korea, and Russia showing up here,” Camp said.

While the event is primarily funded by the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, it is put on in conjunction with the Parks Department, which allows NYAWA to use the boardwalk for its competition.

Richard Murphy, Queens Parks Commissioner, was ready for the show to start. “For me, it brings back memories of Coney Island. When I was a kid I used to see that on the boardwalk in Coney Island, and I’m glad to see that it’s happening in the Rockaways,” he said.

Arm wrestling is certainly a sport, according to Camp, and not one just for musclemen. Camp said, “There’s a Cinderella story in every tournament, you see some guy who doesn’t even look like an arm wrestler, a skinny guy, winning the whole tournament.” In past years, he said, there have been competitors as young as 13 and as old as 74.

The event is one in a series of 10 events – including at least one in each borough, as well as events upstate and on Long Island — that lead up to the NYAWA’s Golden Arm Tournament of Champions, which plays host to the premier amateur arm wrestlers in the world. This year, the Tournament of Champions will be held at the Empire State Building Observatory on Oct. 10.

Queens is well steeped in Arm Wrestling history, according to Camp. The NYAWA actually started in Queens 25 years ago, on Aug. 17, 1997. “Our first ever event was held at the old Sunnyside Gardens Arena on 45th Street and Queens Boulevard,” Camp said.

Several of last year’s overall Golden Arm Amateur Champion came from Queens, including Krisztian Geleniser of College Point, who won both the right and left handed 175 pound weight class, and Edwin Safaria of Bayside, who grabbed the 200 pound crown.

Geleniser, a native of Hungary, said he began arm wrestling in when he was only 14, and after a break, re-started his training when he came to America. Through a translator, Geleniser said the competition in last year’s event kept him energized. “Before winning this kind of championship, I had been beaten by a Russian guy, and after that I started working out harder and harder and for the championship I beat the Russian. It’s a motivating force, to be beaten, it makes you work even harder.”

The ‘Queensboro’ Championships will be held on the Main Stage at 116th Street on the Rockaway Boardwalk. The competition starts at 1 p.m., and the finals begin at 3:30 p.m. Anyone may enter on the day of the event, and there are usually over 100 competitors, according to Camp. The competition has no entrance cost, no admission fee, and no prize money. “They come here from the heart,” Camp said.

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