In the Hook: Hands, Wrists and Thumbs - The History of Armwrestling
By: Tina Goinarov
What is armwrestling? Wristwrestling? What are the rules? And, there are rules? To most this is just a simple activity or 'thing' to do between friends to either pass the time, prove their masculinity, and maybe settle a bet or too. But to a specific group of athletes, this is their sport and one that they are proud of competing in.
Armwrestling began in 1952 in Petaluma, CA in Gilardi's Saloon. A young journalist by the name of Bill Soberanes, was the founder of the organized sport and at the same time, the competitive, organized matches began. As with any sport or introducing something for the first time, the armwrestling matches drew the locals at first. However, as the sport gained in popularity, competitors from further away joined. In 1962, Bill and Dave Devoto formed the World's Wristwrestling Championship Inc. and in 1968, Charles schultz created a Snoopy comic strip on this event. Unfortunately Snoopy did not win due to the rule that states one must lock your thumbs with the opposing competitor.
In 1969, the brothers contacted the American Broadcasting Corporation and the World's Wristwrestling Championship began a 16 year relationship with ABC's Wide World of Sports. It is stated that this sport was the highest rated show in the early history of Wide World of Sports. The televised championships ran from 1969 to 1984.
Every second Sunday in October in Petaluma, California, The world's Wristwrestling - Armwrestling Championships are held.