CHICAGO (CBS) — Arm wrestling is one of mankind’s oldest competitions, dating back to ancient Egypt; and now the sport is enjoying a modern day surge in popularity.
The new season of the World Armwrestling League kicks off Thursday night in Rosemont.
Monster Michael Todd is the reigning superheavyweight world champion. One look at his arms and you can see why.
“I’ve won 34 national titles, and 18 world titles,” he said. “Although it’s a strength sport, you have to understand the techniques, and the leverages, and the angles.”
Todd and two-time WAF world champion Tamara Mitts will compete in a world supermatch showdown at Joe’s Live nightclub.
“We’re always trying to get more women in it,” Mitts said.
Mitts, the self-described “Crazy Canuck,” hails from Canada and has been competing for more than 30 years. She’s also a bartender, and mother of three.
Her kids like mom’s sport of choice.
“When they were all little, they’d take my trophies to school for show and tell,” she said. “My son even said to this little boy one time, ‘You better be nice to me, because my mommy can beat up your daddy.’ I’m like, ‘No, don’t be saying stuff like that.’”
The founder of the WAL is Chicago serial entrepreneur Steve Kaplan, who got the idea when visiting Afghanistan and seeing many troops arm wrestling.
“At the end of the day, it’s mano a mano, man. It’s me against you,” he said. “You’ll have a plumber against an investment banker, a New York firefighter against a priest.”
A total of $250,000 in prize money is on the line for this season. All the wrestlers have other jobs.
In a demonstration for CBS 2 on Thursday, Todd squared off against Mitts, but men and women do not compete against each other in the WAL.