Top WAL Competitor Angela Matthews Talks Overcoming Harrowing Experience To Succeed

March 27th 2017

WAL women's contender Angela Matthews has had could only be considered an intimidating rise in national armwrestling competition. 

At the start of the 2017 World Armwrestling League Season, few knew the 149+ contender's name and she was nowhere on the leaderboard. But through a steely motivation wrought form a harrowing life experience, the burgeoning armwrestler quickly found herself taking down opponents and rising up in the rankings.

In short order, she swept through a local event in Kendall, Wisconsin, and then gathered up honors at both the Southern Classic and Eastern Classic, going home with a pair of Golden Gators and Uncle Slam’s. It’s been a meteoric rise for the newcomer undercut with a dramatic story.  WAL reached out to atthews to learn more.


On what about armwrestling brought her to the sport and WAL:

I have been an athlete all my life and it is hard to break away from that. Especially coming from a family with professional and all-star athletes. I was going through a traumatic experience in my life. I needed an outlet. I was dealing with the personal experience of witnessing someone I loved at the time attempt suicide with a gun. At that moment I did not know if this person would kill me and my child. It was a fear I have never felt in my life. I was ready to die for my child at any given second but we survived.

I had seen armwrestling on television and decided to jump into it. I used to do armwrestling in college but it was for fun. My father told me stories about how they would armwrestle in the fields, on the farm and in the taverns. Armwrestling gave me that release I needed; I became somewhat addicted.

On who she trains with and what her training is like:

Tony Kitowski and the rest of the Wisconsin Armwrestling Team. Tony has been there for me so much. As well as other members who keep tabs on me to make sure I am doing what I am supposed to. Tony guides me in a way that most coaches do not. He comes from a "faith based" mindset and implements that alongside of athletic training to push me. Tony is a hard worker just like every other member of my team. I have witnessed his love of the sport and how much he puts in to making himself better. Tony also puts up with the constant annoying text messaging that I do. Bugging him asking him questions.

Steve Southworth, incredible man with so much knowledge of the game. He calls me almost every day, supporting me and giving me pep talks when I get discouraged.

Steve Baldwin, very strong armwrestler. He has been an awesome person to me. He's there for me when I need him. He encourages me a lot and also makes sure I have everything I need to train.

Miki Moto, great armwrestler. Very aggressive. He is always in my corner or in the passenger seat of my car traveling with me to matches so that I am not by myself. We argue from time to time because I do not listen and I like to debate…..ha ha ha ha.

Ron Bath, he is a wonder man. Lethal armwrestler. He has been awesome in helping me and critiquing me in table work. He has been an inspiration to me. I appreciate all of his help.    

Everyone from the team has been awesome to me and I love all of them.

On what has it been like to see success so early in WAL:

Super scary. Like nightmare on Elm Street scary! I am seven months in and it took me by surprise. It has been overwhelming to a certain point and sometimes I have to sit back and evaluate the things that I do with the guidance of others. Like Steve S, Steve B, Tony Kitowski and Ron Bath who have been in behind me every step of the way.

I stay humble and grounded. That is the most important thing.

On if she thinks she'll be able to sweep the majors in the right and left 149+ women's divisions:

God willing. If I stay focused and continue this path with a strong mindset and determination in my feet… yes.

On if there Is there anyone in particular you would like to pull against:

Lizzy Sack is an awesome competitor. I have competed against her before, she is a beast and comes at you with force. No joke.

On something people probably wouldn't expect to learn about her:

I have two sides of me: a very quiet side and a rebellious rambunctious side. They may need to be put in time out from time to time. I am usually quiet most time. I am the baby of 6, plus I am the only girl. My older brothers beat me up a lot growing up. I had to learn to fight early. My father taught me how to fight and my mother taught me how to pray. I would pray first then go to their room after they did something to me and fight them.

People may not know that I am extremely family focused. I am a single mother of a beautiful boy. I work full time for Milwaukee County and have a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. I am a huge advocate against Human Trafficking and am involved with Suicide Prevention.

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