The History of Organized Armwrestlingby Eric Roussin

The Beginnings

Mac Batchelor crushing bottle caps

Armwrestling, in its basic form -- two people facing each other, grasping hands and attempting to force each other's arm down -- has been practiced by various peoples going back thousands of years. The exact origins are unknown and are likely to forever remain a mystery. One thing that is certain is that in more recent times, armwrestling (or "wirstwrestling", a term that was commonly used interchangeably to describe the same activity up until the mid-20th century) was a favourite strength demonstration among many strongmen. During the first half of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for a strongman to give an armwrestling exhibition where he would take on all comers, often offering a monetary prize to anyone who could put his arm down. Many of these strongmen had reputations of being unbeaten and called themselves "world" champions. Between the 1930's and 1950's, however, one man developed more notoriety for his armwrestling prowess than any other -- Ian Gordon "Mac" Batchelor.

Mac Batchelor was a 6'1" 300 pound Los Angeles bar owner and strongman who performed amazing feats of strength. Demonstrations of hand and wrist strength were his specialty. One such display included placing four bottle caps between his fingers and bending them simultaneously while making a fist! Mac also developed a reputation as being unbeatable in arm or wrist wrestling. Mac took on all comers, night after night -- seated or standing, left or right -- and never lost. One night he even took on the entire Los Angeles Rams football team, who had gone to the bar in the hopes that someone would be able to beat him. None of them could. Mac's proficiency led him to being invited to participate in a two out of three challenge match with 280 pound Earl Audet, another man who had a reputation of being unbeatable. The event occurred on December 16th, 1946 at the Embassy Auditorium in Los Angeles. The matches weren't easy, but Mac emerged as the victor and earned the title of "Wrist-wrestling Champion of America". In 1956 Mac "retired" from the sport with his perfect record, receiving a special award to mark this occasion at the Mr. USA contest held in Los Angeles. Though officially retired from the sport at the age of 46, Mac continued to take on tavern visitors for another several years.

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