After The Action: WAL Qualifier Recap: April 9, 2016

April 14th 2016

Pro and novice pullers threw down from sea to shining sea in 9 qualifier tourneys across North America on April 9, one of the biggest days of World Armwrestling League action in the 2016 campaign. Qualifiers were held in Oregon, Florida, Oklahoma, North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, California and Saskatchewan, Canada, making it one of the biggest WAL weekends of the year.

So far, that is. Those who qualified are set to head to WAL’s massive regional competitions next month in Chicago and Dallas.

Winners in the pro and amateur divisions will rest their aching muscles and tendons before heading to Las Vegas this summer for the championships on ESPN networks. And while each tourney last Saturday was as unique as the men and women putting them on, several organizers reported a similar phenomenon: The rise of the amateur division. Many of the sport’s top names have already qualified, and word of mouth is reaching the masses that WAL welcomes anyone with the fire in their belly for competing.

That means that events like Bart Wood’s qualifier in Erie, Pennsylvania, are bringing in staggering amounts of newcomers. Wood said he had nearly a dozen pullers in his amateur heavyweight division alone last weekend.
“These guys are really fired up,” he said. “They’re excited about being able to go to Vegas and be a part of everything, and compete. We’re going to have a great turnout for amateurs.”

Junior Andrews ran the Elkin qualifier in North Carolina. He also had a healthy amateur turnout. After the dust had settled on the day’s furious action, Andrews held an “after-pull” clinic to show newcomers what they can and cannot do at the WAL table.“That’s where the future is,” he said of the new competitors. Andrews, a 20-year pulling vet, said he warns the new guys that they’ll need heart as much as strength and technique, because it hurts to become a professional armwrestler. “That’s the hardest part for the new guys to understand,” he said. “After that first month, they’re so sore, they don’t wanna do it no more.”

Out in Bend, Oregon, Jody Williams reported intense competition between two amateur lightweights, one from Oregon and one from neighboring Idaho. “One had a Superman shirt on, one had on a Batman tank top,” Williams said. “You had half the crowd rooting for Oregon, half the crowd rooting for Idaho.” In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jim Coyle ran his qualifier as part of a fitness expo, exposing WAL’s unique brand of armwrestling to a whole new demographic. Coyle also saw robust amateur turnout. “They get addicted to it,” he said of the new breed of pullers. Still, sometimes the newcomers have to have their egos put in check. Successful pulling is about learning, and learning requires humility, said Coyle, who has been armwrestling for about 50 years. “We have new guys come in here and say they’ve never been beat,” Coyle said. “One of my experienced guys tells him, I’ve never been beat by someone who’s never been beat.” There are still some qualifier dates left for the 2016 season. Think you’re ready to begin your journey?

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