SPORTS / Those Strong-arm Tactics / City association attracts wrist wrestlers with tourneys
BY: Francis Walker. Francis Walker is a freelance writer.
SECTION: QueensLife
DATE: 07-01-2001

THE NEW YORK Arm Wrestling Association has been in existence since 1977, and conducted its first event in the now defunct Sunnyside Gardens Arena on Queens Boulevard.

Since then, the organization has hosted 12 to 20 events each year and continues to open its doors to anyone who wants to take part.

"Arm wrestling is for everyone," said Gene Camp, the organization's founder and president. For the first six months of its existence, the group was called the Eastern States Wrist Wrestling Federation, but changed its name to have a closer association with the city and state.

Each year the association hosts tournaments throughout the five boroughs, Long Island and upstate New York. Local sites include the Rockaways and Elmhurst.

The most recent event was held May 26 at the Intrepid Sea-Air- Space Museum in Manhattan, where hundreds of members of the Navy, Army and Marines competed. The competition, which is strictly for members of the military, drew 500 spectators and 87 entrants from 14 ships.

Marines from the USS JFK won the event. The USS JFK's Navy entrants were second.

For each tournament, the association attracts more than 100 competitors in various weight classes. Bantam is 132 pounds or less; featherweight is 133-150; lightweight is 151-175; middleweight is 176- 205; and super heavyweight is 205-plus.

"There are also two left-handed divisions. The first is open to individuals under [175] pounds, while the other is open to lefties on a weigh-in basis," Camp said.

As for women, the New York Arm Wrestling Association offers 120- and-less, 135-and less and 136-plus open weight classes.

In addition to a 50-and-older class for men, there is a seniors class for men older than 60.

"Anyone can compete, regardless of age, race or sex. That is the beauty of the sport," Camp said.

The rules for competing include:
Participants must keep their active elbow on the playing pad at all times.

Combatants are allowed to have one leg wrapped around a table leg for leverage, but at least one foot must be planted firmly on the ground.

"No part of a participant's head or shoulder can be used for leverage," Camp said. "Your wrist must be firm and straight. Your free hand, depending whether you are left-handed or right-handed, must grip the peg -a bar attached to the table."

Should someone's elbow slip off the pad while in a winning position, the referee can call a foul. "Two fouls can result in a loss of match," Camp said.

If a participant's elbow slips off the mat while in a losing position, he loses.

One reason someone can easily lose control of an arm during a match is because the tendon of a participant's arm can be either cold or weak.

"It's dangerous to compete with a cold arm," said Camp, who stressed the need for warming up before competition. "The key to arm wrestling is tendon strength. [However], before you arm-wrestle, you must exercise and do warm-ups. Before track stars run in a race, they warm up. They have to get the blood flowing."

"Pulling on [an elastic band] is one of the best exercises for arm wrestlers," Camp added. As you pull on the band, the muscles in the tendon break down and rebuild.

The next event for the organization is the Queensboro Golden Arm Championship at the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk in Queens at 116th Street on July 15. All events start with an 11 a.m. weigh-in, followed by a 2 p.m. start.

Other events scheduled include:
Aug. 4: Brooklyn Borough Championship in Coney Island on the Boardwalk at 12th Street.

Aug. 19: Long Island Pro and Amateur Arm Wrestling Championship in Shirley at the airport.

Sept. 16: Manhattan Golden Arm Championship at the Columbus Avenue Festival, 86th Street and Columbus Avenue, Manhattan.

Oct. 11: Manhattan's Empire State Golden Arm Tournament of Champions final at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street.

Annual membership in the New York Arm Wrestling Association is $25. For more information, including details and directions for the events scheduled, call 718-544-4592 or visit the Web site at www.nycarms


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