"Arm-wrestling kicked the lazy out of me."

September 2nd 2015

When Spencer Lightningfire walked into the arena at the 2015 World Armwrestling League Championships this spring, most people only knew his name because it’s so awesomely strange. “Ligntningfire.” Is that real? As it turns out, his surname is as real as his competitive zeal at the arm-wrestling table. The 39-year-old massage therapist from Utah had only been arm-wrestling competitively for a little over a year before the 2015 campaign. He placed a “showed-up-and-got-whupped” 50th in the WAL 2014 season championship, taking home nothing but a sore arm and a bruised ego.

But the experience galvanized him, and when he got home he started arm-wrestling seriously. He trained. Hard.

“It felt like I had a tooth ache in my bicep for months,” the father of three recalled.

 He learned from others on the scene, guys who are ferociously competitive at the table but supportive of newcomers and willing to help them grow, passing on the knowledge someone had granted them years before.

“The people at the top are not there because of genetics or technique, but mostly lots of effort,” he said. “Arm-wrestling kicked the lazy out of me.”

Then Lightningfire stepped into The Pit for the 2015 Finals, having worked his way through the Western Region Championships in May with a respectable 4th on his left arm. He found himself facing “Bad Chad” Silvers, a titan and respected veteran in the sport, and a WAL Middleweight favorite. He got Silvers into a bad position in the straps, used his tall frame for leverage, and in a wild surge, pinned him for a victory. Suddenly, people were saying the name “Lightningfire,” again, but with new meaning behind it.

 “I just beat a big name,” he said after the match. “Everybody knows that guy. Nobody knows me. They know me now though.”

 This man with the greatest last name in the sport is proof positive that anyone with the skill and desire can come throw down with the best arm-wrestlers  in the world at the upcoming 50 State invitational. Click here for the full schedule.

“Just go and learn,” he said of the events. “If you happen to win, sweet, but your intent should be to learn. Most arm-wrestlers are totally cool and usually after a tournament, it’s like a big practice. Everyone is showing everyone different techniques and trying different moves.”

Lightningfire still remembers the first competition he attended, and getting handily beaten by everyone there. That lasted for a while as he continued training.

“You will go through a humbling stage,” he said, “and few make it past that stage.”

Getting better at arm-wrestling requires the same intense dedication of any other sport, Lightningfire noted.

“Most beginning arm-wrestlers make it to one practice,” he said. “Just one. They were strong, they had willpower, they had genetics, they had years of weight training, they have the brains. But they can’t handle the loss, and it’s over. All the potential lost, all the excitement over, all the progression shattered, because they can’t see past today.”

Lightningfire’s advice to anyone starting out?

“Learn how to lose to learn how to win,” he said. “You can’t really lose if you’re getting stronger and learning.”