February 20 Qualifiers in Florida, Arizona and Indiana

February 25th 2016

Scores of new and established pullers, as well as tons of fans new and old, took in the uniquely intense WAL 2016 qualifier action Feb. 20 in Michigan City, IN, Ovieto, FL, and Mesa, AZ! Dustin Allen, a 35-year-old engineering student who discovered pulling about 18 months ago, hosted the Mesa event at The Trough Bar and Grill. Roughly 43 pullers threw down in the amateur and pro brackets, raking in nearly $12,000 in sales for the bar, Allen said. In addition to taking time for media interviews, Allen said he pushed through the brackets quickly, finishing up the tourney in about four hours. While established pullers went on to qualify for Regionals, Allen said the amateur division also made a strong push. The WAL’s Amateur Division is perfect for men and women with fire in their bellies who are not quite at the elite level just yet.

“The amateur tournament is going to be giant this year,” Allen said. “The amateur brackets were really deep.”

Allen took part in the WAL’s pre-race pit party at the Monster Energy Supercross LIVE races(hyperlink bolded text to Supercross partnership announcement) in Arizona a few weeks earlier, and said some guys who discovered pulling at the event came out to the qualifier.
“These are guys who don’t really know nothing about arm-wrestling,” he said. “They just came and wanted to try the tournament.”

Welcoming newcomers to the qualifiers is important, Allen said.  Organizers need to showcase the fun of the sport and let the greenhorns try different techniques. Allen said he has now hosted a handful of WAL events, and that turnout keeps getting bigger as more of America and the world sees what makes pro pulling so awesome.

“It just keeps getting better and better,” he said.

Coming off a massive Florida state tournament last year, WAL puller Jason Morris threw another great event in Oviedo, FL, at Froggers Bar. Morris continues to establish himself as one of the go-to organizers in the region. In Michigan City, IN, longtime arm-wrestler Dan Stroud threw his own 2016 qualifier at Decoy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. Roughly 37 arms pulled that day, and Stroud was able to add extra activities to the afternoon that helped curious spectators become part of the event. He held a pushup contest for $10 a pop and had a trophy for the winner. All the proceeds went to help the family of a boy who was injured in a car accident, Stroud said.

“Once we started it, more and more people started getting involved,” he said.

Stroud also reported a huge amateur turnout. There were guys calling him at the last minute to enter, as well as bar customers who chanced upon the tournament and wanted to grip up, he said. In addition to the growing amateur ranks, WAL pro middleweight Scott Ballinger showed up with his dad, legendary pulling master Bill Ballinger.

“Bill is the original Popeye,” Stroud said. “His forearms were so huge.”

The event was also hugely profitable for The Decoy, Stroud said.

“They want to do it again next year,” he said.

WAL qualifiers come to Twin Falls, ID, and Norwalk, OH, this Saturday, Feb. 27! Go here for all our upcoming events. Want to throw your own WAL event in the future? Email info@walunderground.com for more details and go here for advice from the best in the business.