FitX John Brzenk Challenge
Almost overshadowing the FitX Championship itself was the quiet but powerful presence of John Brzenk over the competition weekend. A landmark event in the growth of the sport in Australia, and truly an honour to play host to the man who is without question the greatest arm wrestler ever.
John was not only in Australia to cast a watchful eye over our FitX competitors as they faced off against one another, no doubt adding to the anxiety and nervous tension building up to the first matches (the surrounding area literally felt as though it was heating up as those competing paced back and forth, warming up and focusing in on the task at hand), he was also a major attraction himself at FitX this year, in the form of the “John Brzenk Challenge”. For those who have never been to one before, a fitness exhibition is populated with many people who are large, very strong, and some who like to consider themselves as being very strong and will take any opportunity to display their strength.
John was willing to place on offer a $1000 cash prize to any would-be contender who dared to take up the challenge of pinning him, a man who has dominated his sport for over 30 years now. Challengers could offer to compete with either arm, competition rules and standards would apply, and this offer was not only open to arm wrestlers either…anyone had a chance to walk away $1000 better off. Strongmen, bodybuilders, powerlifters, weekend gym warriors, the offer was open to all. 21 people signed up for the challenge. Some were willing to take their chance, perhaps not knowing what to expect from a man who is very unassuming (to the uninitiated), and when there is a 50% chance that you may walk away with $1000, why not give it a shot? The bulk of those to challenge John were arm wrestlers, many whom competed the day before, simply wanting to know what it would be like to square off against the world’s best. They all found out (the hard way), and none will forget the lesson learned and the work that goes in to competing at an elite level alongside the best, such as John himself. John made his way through the best we have to offer without a single match lasting more than 3, maybe 4, seconds. There were two men, however, who provided a reasonable challenge to John, and ensured that he would not walk away from the table without a real fight.
The first of the two was Alan Kliese, a huge man, and a highly competitive national powerlifter in Australia. What Alan may have lacked in technical knowledge on the armwrestling table was well and truly compensated for by his immense strength, holding John at first for what seemed like an eternity compared to the matches preceding it. Eventually the two slipped, taking the match to the straps where John left no doubt as to who was in control, pinning Alan relatively quickly once getting a feel for the man on the table. Much to Alan’s credit, John later commented following their meeting that Alan possessed one of the strongest wrists and hands that he had ever come up against. High praise coming from a man who has faced the best that armwrestling has to offer for the past 30 years.
The second man to really push John, and the last one on stage for the challenge, was the Norwegian strongman, Lars Rorbakken, who was there primarily to compete in the Strongman event also being held at FitX this year. Regardless, the lure of challenging the world’s best was too strong, and Lars extended himself across the weekend.
Many of you by now may have seen the video of these two locking arms on the day as it has circulated the internet via youtube, Facebook, and armwrestling news sites, and therefore have an idea of just how intense their meeting was. Lars is very large, and very strong, and unbeknownst to many has an impressive list of past armwrestling credentials and achievements to his name, multiple national titles in Norway along with impressive placing in European championships to name just two. As soon as Lars walked on stage it was clear that he was there to win, the focus of a professional athlete standing out very clearly in comparison to all others.
However, Despite Lars' best attempts John once again dominated the match after getting a feel for his opponent following an initial slip once again, taking the match to straps where John would dominate the much larger man, and leave an indelible mark on the minds of all those who were fortunate enough to be there to witness such a spectacle in person. The $1000 was safe within the hands of the man dubbed “The Perfect Storm”.