HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
It may not be mainstream, but the popularity of competitive arm wrestling is rising around the world with weight divisions, titles and prizes, something two Airmen at Hill Air Force Base know a lot about.
First Lt. Chad Wanner, a medium caliber program manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and Lincoln Jarman, a software engineer with the 309th Software Engineering Group, met through arm wrestling and have become friends and training partners.
Wanner is a seasoned veteran, with 16 years of experience in competitive arm wrestling, while Jarman has just one year under his belt. While their stories are quite different, the one thing they both share is a love of the competition.
1st Lt. Chad Wanner
Wanner was introduced to the sport as a teenager by a church youth leader, who he has trained with on and off ever since. He started traveling to tournaments and never looked back.
He trains weekly, holding practices with Utah’s elite pullers. He’s also in the gym three to four times a week performing unique workouts designed specifically for improvement in his sport and his hard work has paid off.
He has five different state titles and has medaled at several others. He has also medaled six different times at national tournaments. He contributes this success to never giving up and consistently putting in the time and effort to get better.
“This sport, like any other, requires time and dedication to become the best,” he said. “The bigger guy won’t always win. Strength is one of the pillars of arm wrestling, but surprisingly weightlifting is not. Being able to bench press 500 pounds will not get you very far in the sport. You have to be specific in your weight training.”
He said arm wrestling is very rewarding and he encourages anyone with even a little interest to give it a chance.
“If you are interested, come on out and give it a try,” he said. “There are pockets of arm wrestlers all over the state willing to help you get started.”
Wanner said he has full support of leadership to take leave for any arm wrestling event, when the mission allows. He would love to see arm wrestling become an Air Force sponsored sport in the future.
Jarman discovered arm wrestling through watching YouTube videos. He was looking for sport that he could participate in that wouldn’t aggravate an injured shoulder or bad knee, and arm wrestling seemed to fit the bill.
“Arm wrestling is bigger and a lot more involved than I expected,” he said. “I have always been competitive and intrigued by strength, so I was quite interested.”
He began practicing on the table every other week, building up endurance because the pain and recovery is different from other sports. Now, he practices weekly, spending time on the table and in the gym, where he mixes in arm wrestling specific workouts with his more traditional workouts.
Although he’s still new to the sport and has only been competing for a year, he’s already had great success. In three tournaments, he’s won three medals: a first place for left-handed amateur, a second place for right-handed amateur, and a third place for right-handed pro.
Jarman said the sport is fun and addicting, and it appeals to his competitive nature.
“If you hate losing, you’ll love this sport,” he said. “It does hurts a lot initially, but I think that pain is worth getting over. As you build up more endurance and strength, that ‘beginner’s pain’ starts to go away.”
He said the biggest obstacle is just knowing where to start.
“Anyone interested should look up local people under arm wrestling on Facebook and just message them,” he said. “Almost everyone is happy to have more people join up. I would also say make sure you watch a lot of YouTube on the topic. There are a lot of people who teach arm wrestling tactics and safety. There is a wealth of knowledge available that people used to have to spend years and years figuring out on their own.”