Underground arm-wrestling takes NYC by storm


  • An underground arm-wrestling scene is rapidly growing in New York City and nearby areas.
  • A Brooklyn resident created a hub when he consructed an arm-wrestling table and stationed it in front of his home.
  • The scene grew during the pandemic, when gyms were closed.

Arm-wrestling isn’t exactly considered a sport by most Americans, who instead think of it as something a stranger at a bar might challenge you to. But an expanding group of New Yorkers learned during the pandemic that it’s more of an art than a bar brawler’s pastime.

When the start of the COVID-19 pandemic caused gyms to close, Mikhail Anoshka began building an arm-wrestling centerpiece near his family’s home in Brooklyn. Inspiration struck when he spotted a man doing wrist curls at a gym the week prior.

“I knew he was into arm-wrestling because he had the fat grip on,” Anoshka said. “I randomly asked him to arm wrestle, and I couldn’t even move his hand.”

The loss reignited Anoshka’s fervent childhood promise to himself that he would eventually beat his father at arm wrestling.

Two months and $300 later, Anoshka, his father, and his grandfather completed the arm arena. Challengers weren’t far behind.

“For some, it takes like four train stops,” the 27-year-old said. “There was a guy that came from Queens with his wife and child and arm-wrestled for an hour while his wife sat in front of my house. Everyone’s welcome.”

Hand-sanitation is informally enforced, according to the Belarusian native. “I usually take the soap out, and we wash hands from [the] garden hose.”

As the pandemic roared on, there was little to do but practice.

“All of my arm-wrestling friends, we met because I have the table,” Anoshka said.

Anoshka says he and his friends were able to discover fellow enthusiasts in nearby cities to train with thanks to the free app Armbet, which he describes as “the Tinder of arm wrestling.”

“A lot of arm-wrestling in the past has been very word of mouth. We created Armbet to help people connect,” Armbet’s founder and the No. 1 ranked arm-wrestler in North America, Devon Larratt said.

“It’s super accessible — all you need is the willing,” he added. “As long as you have an arm and a hand, you’re good to go for arm wrestling.”

While the sport overall lost momentum during the coronavirus, things are picking up.

“It has become more popular than ever,” New York Arm Wrestling Association President Jack Arias said.

“Arm-wrestling has been around forever. As early as people have been shaking hands, there’s been arm-wrestling,” Larratt said. “When I started, no one did arm-wrestling. Then, with the birth of the internet, more people were able to see it.”

“So much of the world is being taught to shy away from people, that people are dangerous. But we are pack animals — people belong together — and the sport of arm-wrestling teaches you that together, we get stronger,” Larratt added.

Source: New York Post

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