You’d go through the table, and maybe even the floor, if you went up against one of the blokes competing in an Aotearoa Arm Wrestling tournament later this month.
The New Zealand Arm Wrestling Foundation is hosting ‘Iron Hand’, an open arm wrestling tournament on May 27 and the Kiwi fellas putting elbow to table are ridiculously committed to winning the thing.
The reigning New Zealand champion is Maateiwarangi Heta-Morris AKA ‘The Beast’. He’s got muscles all over, but recently bragged that he’s got “the biggest thumb muscle on TikTok” and he’s probably right, that thing is bigger than the heel of my foot.
“A big human,” is how Anton West, an arm wrestler from Tauranga, described Heta-Morris to The Spinoff. “He’s in the big boy class. He tore my rotator cuff. That was a four-to-six-month injury.
Being an arm wrestler, you’re more likely to injure yourself than become rich and no gym specialises in arm wrestling equipment to hone your muscles and skills on, meaning you'll have to make it yourself. For the wrestlers, they do it for the community, the motivation, and the taste of sweet, sweet victory.
“This is not a silver spoon sport,” James Wells, the NZ under 90kg Left-Hand champion. “You do not have to come from money. Inheriting good genetics is a bonus, sure, but hard work and consistency will go a long way.”
“It’s almost an out-of-body experience,” the owner of two pythons for arms said of winning. “You’ve got your nemesis, ‘This guy’s beating me.’ You train your socks off, you’re in a war with this guy – and you beat him.
“It’s relief. It’s excitement. You know you’ve … bloody done it.”
A lot of the sport’s future in Aotearoa is riding on how popular ‘Iron Hand’ will be at the end of the month, but West says it’s a spectacle like no other.
“The big thing is to have a really successful event,” he said. “If it’s not too successful I doubt we’ll have this opportunity again. It’s like watching a fire burning, those intense matches. If there’s a war going on … you can’t look away.”
Technically anyone can enter the tournament, but going up against pythons and thumb muscles the size of a small child’s shoulder, you’re probably better off watching.