West Australian Armwrestling Extravaganza
If anyone is curious as to how to build up anticipation towards, and promote the event and sport itself leading up to an arm wrestling competition, Murray McKay, WA Arm Wrestling CEO and Australian arm wrestling pioneer, is the man to ask. Murray had promised to all who threatened to attend the 2013 WA State Arm Wrestling Championships that he was going to put on an event that would raise the bar (yet again) for state level competition in this country. It’s hard to argue with such a claim after the spectacle witnessed by all in attendance on June 22, at the WA Italian Club.
Murray had promised to all who threatened to attend the 2013 WA State Armwrestling Championships that he was going to put on an event that would raise the bar for state level competition in this country.
It's fitting that state competitions take on a bigger presence and level of entertainment at this point in time. As the sport grows, the personalities of competitors become bigger and more is on the line in terms of reputation, especially when claims are made pre-competition and expectations are held as to how a certain athlete should perform. The sport is unpredictable at this point though, and with each competition a new "unknown" competitor seems to come in and throws a large spanner into the works for those who plan to walk away victorious. The only certainty in this sport is that there seems to be none.
The night started with fireworks…literally…and carried on accordingly from there.
As a change in standard competition format, the night began with the heavyweight guys locking horns on the right, working down through the weight divisions rather than up. This drew the audience in instantly, and with each match the intensity and ferocity of the competition seemed to build upon its self.
Men's 110kg+ Right
As would be expected, this class was filled with some big, big guys. Last year’s winner, Sonny Johnston tipped the scales at around 150kg, and was there to see that the state title stayed in his hands. This was never going to be easy when matched up against competitors who have proved themselves over and over again during the last year of competition, such as Nick Tiliacos and Doug Fatefehi. Heinrich Smit, new to competition in Australia, managed to unsettle all he faced off against on the table, and will no doubt prove to be another heavyweight force in events to come as he worked his way through to a final with Doug, only to lose to the more seasoned and powerful puller on the day. After his performance at FitX and in WA, all eyes will be on Doug come the Nationals.
Men's 95kg-109kg Right
Nick Tiliacos had opted to enter into both the 110kg+ division along with the 95kg+ division. Nick is always strong, and a great competitor, however the fatigue from pulling more than anyone else on the night may have eventually set in during the finals resulting in a new name, Ben Carroll, snatching first place from Nick’s hands in a hard fought final. Ben displayed some incredible holding strength in many matches, pulling back from the brink of losing, setting a deep hook and grinding his way back to his own pad. With further training, Ben is going to be dangerous.
Men's Under 95kg Right
Phil Rasmussen and Jamie Carle added fuel to their rivalry yet again in hard fought and intense matches throughout the night. Jamie has remained dominant on the right hand, but Phil was to get his revenge and has retained his status as the man to beat on the left. These two are clearly in control of the middleweight division as things currently stand, although competitors such as Andrew Lea and Oz Caglar are making their way through the ranks and have their eyes firmly set on higher placing in future competitions.
Men's Under 85kg Right
The intensity only increased as the weight dropped, and this class was all about big, fast hits seeing several people flashed to the pad almost before they knew the match had even begun. Jason Deng and Alfred Caulker were both strong in this class, along with Victoria’s Jesse Johnson who was yet again one of the dominant competitors until he met with Kyle Howarth, a WA native, very strong on the inside with a powerful hook, shutting down Jesse’s lightning fast top roll in the final to walk away with first place.
Women's Divisions (57kg and under, 57 – 67kg, 68kg+ Left and Right)
Six divisions for our female competitors is the most classes Australia has had at a competition so far, and if the night was anything to go by there were several competitors who with more training and experience could pose a threat to our current female champion, Kourtney Olsen, any time in the future should they take the sport on. The future for women’s arm wrestling in Australia is looking bright. Stand out competitors on the night were Toni Misitano who was powerful on her right and displayed a high level of natural ability on the table, Vittoria Wilken who was quite dominant on her left, and Lisa Kulasalu who is one of the most experienced female arm wrestlers competing in Australia now, proving that experience and endurance can often give one the upper hand on the day.
Men's 110kg+ Left
It’s almost becoming a given that Matt Bacon is going to walk away a winner on his left at any competition he enters. No one has yet been able to stop his press, and it is going to take some doing if any does. Matt is a quiet kind of competitor, but his arm wrestling is speaking volumes. Matt went through the class undefeated, leaving right hand dominator’s Nick Tiliacos and Doug Fatafehi to battle it out for second and third. Nick went into this match up a favourite on his left, but Doug managed to hold off Nick and provide an upset with his first win against Nick on the left.
Men's 95kg-109kg Left
Nick Tiliacos had a long night, with this being his fourth class for the competition. Nick was able to come away with another medal for the night, this one a first place victory over Cameron Baxter who went through to the final after 2012 National champion Ryan Scott had to unfortunately pull out of the class.
Men's 95kg Left
Phil Rasmussen has become dominant in left hand competition and went through this class undefeated despite coming up against rival Jamie Carle yet again. Phil went straight through Jamie’s arm in their first match up on the left, so Jamie would need to approach this class differently if he was to compete with Phil in the finals. Oz Caglar and Andrew Lea were once again dangerous, having an intense face off with each other, and Andrew went on to threaten both Jamie and Phil before it came down to their final. Jamie was wary of Phil’s left now, and approached him differently in the finals resulting in a slip to straps, where Phil would then assert his dominance with a strong top roll for the title.
Men's Under 85kg Left
Despite his victory on the right, and having a strong supporting contingent in the crowd, Kyle Howarth, although putting in a good showing in on his left was no match for Jesse Johnson who was too fast and powerful on his left. Kyle had met Jesse after a win against strong up and coming competitor, Rory Magnabosco, who went on to avenge this loss to Kyle in their second match with a big top roll allowing Rory to move in to the finals with Jesse. Jesse and Rory are intense in competition, and both ramped up this intensity when they met in the final, both fighting aggresively for hand position and leverage in set up hoping to gain an advantage that may give them the final win of the night. Jesse’s experience, speed, and strength shone through after almost endless set ups, flashing Rory to the pin and taking home the victory.
The WA Championships is becoming a huge event on the Australian arm wrestling calander, drawing more people over every year, and offering a big midyear competition for those who want to threaten their competition leading on to the nationals or simply see where they are so notes can be taken for the necessary homework to be done.
Murray McKay did an incredible job organising this competition, and we are lucky to have such passionate promoters pushing the sport and working to raise the standard of competitions across the country.