Like many people, I used to think that armwrestling was something that was only done by drunk men in pubs. How wrong I was.  Not only is it a hugely popular sport in many European countries as well as the US, it’s also far more technical than you’d imagine.

On Sunday 2nd December, the Australian Armwrestling Federation had their second National Championships in Melbourne, sponsored by Bulk Nutrients.  The sport is taking off at a great rate of knots over here and this was the biggest competition the Federation has run so far with a total of 60 competitors, both male and female.

I should include a disclaimer at this point. I am not authority (I barely know the difference between a “hook” and a “top roll”) so my perspective is very much that of the enthusiastic but naïve spectator.

Armwrestling is a really fun sport to watch. I’ve never really been one for spectating but I found myself getting very worked up during the comp and doing a lot of shouting at the competitors.  The quick succession of matches keeps it interesting and as one of the female competitors, Evelina Linder (all the way from Sweden) said to me: “Anything can happen in armwrestling.”

That “anything can happen” in armwrestling certainly seems to be the case as there were quite a few surprises at the Nationals. The biggest possibly being Jamie Carle from WA taking out the under 90kg right hand title.  It was Jamie’s first comp and the under 90kg right was by far the biggest weight class with 13 competitors so this was no mean feat.  Ryan Scott (also from WA) quietly scooped up first in the under 100kg category, which was completely unexpected.

There were some epic battles that had everyone on the edge of their seats.  A couple of months ago at the QLD State Championships Ryan Phillips steamrolled through everyone in his path and won overall left and right – he didn’t lose a single match.  In QLD, Ryan relegated Nicholas Tiliacos to second place several times and it was obvious that Nick wasn’t going to have a repeat at the Nationals.  Ryan and Nick locked arms like bulls locking horns and every time they did it was a long, grinding contest.  Ryan triumphed over Nick on the left, with Ryan placing first in the under 100kg, but Nick took second place on the right pushing Ryan down to third.

Another rivalry that produced some nail-biting matches was between Phil Rasmussen and Chris Saffuri in the under 90kg class.  These guys were intense and you could feel the testosterone levels in the room shoot up as soon as they faced one another across the table.  Phil triumphed on the left to take first place in the under 90kg category, while Chris came in second on the right and bumped Phil down to third (same scenario as with Ryan and Nick, and in both cases it was a WA competitor who came out of the blue to take first on the right – spooky!).

Grant Tolentino from QLD was another surprise winner, claiming the under 80kg left hand title over Sam Saffuri who was thought to be a dead cert for that title.  When it came to the right hand match between the two, though, Sam was determined to maintain his reputation as one of Australia’s best and beat Grant in the final.  This is a rivalry that will undoubtedly make future competitions very exciting.

Among the super heavyweights there was some serious contest on the right between Adam Laura and John Talo, but after several drawn out battles Adam came out on top – just.  Surprisingly, though, the really big guys were outdone overall on the right with the top 3 spots going to competitors lighter than 100kg.  On the left, another WA competitor, Matt Bacon (if you look up the phrase “built like a brick sh*thouse you’ll find a picture of this guy) surprised everyone by beating John Talo and Peks Nanai to come first in that class.

The under 70kg men’s right class was possibly the only one without any shocking results – two of the favourites, Amir Singh and Jesse Johnson got first and second respectively in a close contest.

There were only four female competitors so it wasn’t practical to have them split into weight classes. This made for some interesting matches given the difference in weight between the lightest and heaviest was clearly pretty big. Kortney Olsen from Sydney was a very convincing winner, but little Evelina put up a good fight at only 55kg bodyweight (by far the lightest female) to come in second.

Stay tuned for some videos of the action from the comp so you can see some of the epic battles from the competition for yourself!

The final results for the day saw WA dominate and take out both the overall left and overall right titles (something in the water over there?):

1. Grant Tolentino
2. Sam Saffuri
3. Jesse Johnson
4. Dominic Fiasco
5. Matthew Brown
6. John Bowley
7. Duan Beckett
8. Grant Durrington

1. Phil Rasmussen
2. Chris Saffuri
3. Rohan Dodds
4. Jarrod Riordan
5. Marcel Gieson
6. Jason Spruce
7. Andrew Lea
8. Rory Magnabosco

1. Ryan Phillips
2. Nick Tiliacos
3. Ryan Scott
4. Damien Mullen
5. George Zakeidze
6. Nick Neff

1. Matthew Bacon
2. Peks Nanai
3. John Talo
4. Paul Wild

1. Kortney Olsen
2. Evelina Linder
3. Lisa Kulasalu
4. Ally Bleach

1. Amir Singh
2. Jesse Johnson
3. Balraj Mann
4. Jason Deng

1. Sam Saffuri
2. Grant Tolentino
3. Dominic Fiasco
4. Grant Durrington
5. Joe Hudec
6. Matthew Brown
7. Jay Puthusseri
8. John Bowley
9. Duan Beckett

1. Jamie Carle
2. Chris Saffuri
3. Phil Rasmussen
4. Rohan Dodds
5. Marcel Giesen
6. Tommy Zakeidze
7. Andrew Lea
8. Altin Banaj
9. Jason Spruce
10. Rory Magnabosco
11. Jarrod Riordan
12. Sammy Murdoca

1. Ryan Scott
2. Nick Tiliacos
3. Ryan Phillips
4. Steve Carter
5. Nick Nagy
6. Damian Mullen
7. George Zakeidze

1. Adam Laura
2. John Talo
3. Peks Nanai
4. Matt Bacon
5. Peter Cutting
6. Paul Wild

1. Matt Bacon
2. Phil Rasmussen
3. Peks Nanai
4. Grant Tolentino
5. Chris Saffuri
6. Sam Saffuri
7. Nick Tiliacos
8. Ryan Scott

1. Jamie Carle
2. Sam Saffuri
3. Nick Tiliacos
4. Ryan Scott
5. Adam Laura
6. Amir Singh
7. John Talo
8. Jesse Johnson
9. Chris Saffuri

If you’re looking for a new sport to follow, or maybe a new one to compete in, definitely check out armwrestling – it’s fun to watch and it looks like it’s a lot of fun to do. For more info, contact the crew at the Australian Armwrestling Federation.

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. I noticed the bee keeper from Victoria did well, 3rd in the 90kg left category!

  2. Haha well spotted, Vlad. Yeah he did very well for his second comp.

  3. It would be nice to see some some pictures of the WA representatives, especially of the final matches 🙂

  4. Sorry JC, not intentional, the AWF rushed me the handlful of photos they’d got back from the photographers at the time the post was written so the above were all I had. I’ll make sure the WA competitors get top billing in the videos!

  5. A great event.
    We are the major sponsors of the AAF (Bulk Nutrients), it was the first Nationals were have been to.
    The day was very exciting, plenty of close battles as well as upsets. Congrats to Phil, Jesse, Amy and other involved in organising the event, as well as the huge contingent that made the effort to come down from Sydney and the Guys from W.A

  6. Great writeup Emily and again thanks to all the competitors who gave us entertaining and intense matches throughout the day, and to Ben Crowley from Bulk Nutrients our major sponsor for supporting the AAF and providing such great prize bags for every competitor on the day.

  7. […] Here is the video of the women’s matches from the Australian Armwrestling Championships a bit over a week ago.  Goes to show it’s not just a sport for the guys!  For the full write up on the comp click here. […]

  8. […] Here is the video of the men’s right hand matches at the Australian National Armwrestling Championships a bit over a week ago.  There are some great battles in here, definitely worth a watch.  For the full write up on the event click here. […]

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Emily Friedel


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