Loudmouth commentators. Chest-slapping machismo and tough-guy posturing. Wrestlers settling old scores and building new grudges as they compete for, of all things, a belt. Sounds like those WWF matches your older brother used to watch, right? The main difference: all the wrestlers are regular women, not trained performers, and their sport is arm-wrestling.
In recent years, women’s alternative sports such as roller derby, pillow-fighting and even lingerie football have exploded. While these unorthodox sports tend to fall on the spectrum between empowerment and exploitation, Steve Rock (who created and hosts Women’s Arm-Wrestling along with Scotty B Goode) is confident about his event’s credentials. “We’re about female empowerment,” Rock says. “We’re not like, ‘Oh, nice try, ladies!’ We’re like, ‘Go ahead and do it!’ And we’re impressed! Especially when you see a match where it goes to the left, to the right, and back again . . . It’s a lot of excitement.”
The idea for the event developed two years ago when Rock and Goode were out having drinks. “We were joking around, settling some kind of bet with an arm-wrestle,” Rock explains. “And there were a couple of girls in our group and they wanted to get in on it, too . . . Then we saw a sort of sweep around the entire patio. Everyone just started arm-wrestling on the tables.”
Both were surprised to see how into the competition all the women were. “The girls just sprung at the chance to do it. So, we thought that there must be something there,” Rock says.
All the proceeds from the championship will go to Plan Canada’s Because I Am a Girl campaign. Previous events have benefited Planned Parenthood, the Breast Cancer Society and a women’s shelter. “It always goes to a charity that’s as local as we can make it but that directly benefits women and children.”
With an upcoming match at Pride and a touring version of the championship (there are planned dates in Montreal, New York, London and Berlin), Women’s Arm-Wrestling is showing no signs of slowing down — or running out of competitors.
“It spans all demographics,” Rock explains. “We get moms, teachers, people who work for the government, bartenders.”
He says there are a few spots left for last-minute sign-ups. Just be sure you’ve got a costume, a stage name (Faye Tality and Scarlett O’Terror are already taken) and some kickass entrance music. And don’t expect anyone to wuss out on the wrestling itself. “It’s legitimate strength,” Goode insists. “They’re not just putting on a show . . . We do the theatrics, we do the pageantry, but no one’s faking it, that’s for sure.”