Get a Grip

This round is the best way "writer" and "arm wrestling challenge" could ever turn out

Published October 13, 2023

Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write a entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.

This week’s theme is “Arm Wrestling,” suggested by Kaela Talley at Puddler’s Hall in Milwaukee! Thanks, Kaela!

Though I’m more of a staring contest sort of guy, arm wrestling proved to be an usually fun subject with some diverse veins of nerdery to tap into. We’ll start with the first thing you probably think of when you hear “arm wrestling”: Shinto mythology!

According to the eighth-century chronicle Kojiki, the wind god Takeminakata wanted to prevent the thunder god Takemikazuchi from seizing control of the Japanese islands, and challenged him to a test of strength. Takeminakata grabbed the thunder god’s hand, arm-wrestling style, only to find it changed into a slippery icicle, and then a sword. When he pulled back, Takemikazuchi grabbed the challenger’s hand and crushed it “like a reed,” securing his dominance over the islands and inventing the sport of sumo.

Nishiki-e, a woodblock print depicting a sumo bout (Japan Sumo Association)

You don’t see the “change hand into icicle” gambit used much in modern arm wrestling, I’ll grant you, but hey: classics like that always come around again. Now, let’s see what else this fascinating sport has for us!

1. The official rules of the World Armwrestling Federation foul you if what specific part of your arm leaves a pad? Elbow

Also forbidden by the WAF: Foul language, shoving your opponent’s shoulder, and long fingernails. Save that bush-league nonsense for the World Thumb Wrestling Federation!

2. Data from Star Trek: TNG needed about zero seconds to win a match of B’aht Qul, the arm wrestling sport of what aggro aliens? Klingons

The Klingons are named after  Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan, who served with Gene Roddenberry in the LAPD and was a consultant on Dragnet. NeH ngoDmey (“just the facts”), ma’am!

3.  The cable channel Willow TV mostly covers cricket matches, but you can also watch the Mumbai Muscle and Kiraak Hyderabad face off in what big nation’s pro arm wrestling league? India

The Pro Panja League (“panja” being Hindi for “claw” or “paw,”) was founded by Bollywood power couple Parvin Dabas and Preeti Jhangiani, and requires all six of its teams to have male, female, and wheelchair-bound players. Check out some of their matches here

4. Not too surprisingly, Nintendo’s old-school arcade game Arm Wrestling was developed by the same team behind what franchise where you fight Glass Joe and Bald Bull? Punch-Out!!

Pro tip: In the NES version of Punch-Out you can jump straight to the final boss by going to the password screen and entering Nintendo’s customer service number: 800-422-2602. That phone number still works, but I checked: They can’t help you if you broke your Switch by “accidentally” smacking your little brother with it 27 times. 

5. It’s no laughing matter: The NIH says the most common arm wrestling injury is a spiral fracture of what largest and longest arm bone? Humerus

Spend too much time on the NIH website and you’ll learn about rare diseases like alkaptonuria, which makes your pee turn black when it’s exposed to air. I know there are worse ones to have, but… damn.

6. To “settle who won the Cold War,” in 1991 Congressman Dana Rohrabacher drunk-arm-wrestled what mayor of St. Petersburg who’s since gone on to bigger and badder things? Vladimir Putin

Rohrbacher says Putin beat him in “a millisecond.” The contest occurred in a D.C. bar, shortly after Rohrbacher challenged some visiting Russians to a game of (gridiron) football. Also in that game? Noted GOP scumbag Scooter Libby. How has Aaron Sorkin not made this into a movie?

7. Santiago reminisces about winning an all-night arm wrestling match in his bygone youth, on day three of the man-marlin death struggle that makes up what Hemingway novel? The Old Man and the Sea

Ernest Hemingway was no stranger to macho bullshit, but his fishing skills were legit: He caught more than 50 marlin off of Cuba in a single trip, and once landed a 119-pound Atlantic sailfish. Oh, and he used a Tommy gun to dissuade sharks from stealing his prizes. Naturally.

8. Before a Stallone script rewrite, Lincoln Hawk was arm-wrestling to buy himself an island in what ‘80s film that you all knew would be in this round? Over the Top

The producers of Over the Top created an actual Vegas arm wrestling tournament to promote the film. Taking the grand prize of a $100,000 Volvo tractor-trailer rig was all-timer John Brzenk, who’s won over 40 world titles. Shake his hand with caution!

Bonus: 13-time women’s champ Irina Gladkaya has piled up over 60 million YouTube views, with a video of her owning ripped dudes in what sandy resort city that’s across the bay from Miami, hence the name? Miami Beach

The first building ever constructed in Miami Beach was the Biscayne House of Refuge, established in 1876 to give food and care to shipwreck survivors. What happened to you, Florida? You used to be cool.

One thought on “Get a Grip

  1. Kaela Talley says:

    Love to see John Brzenk getting a name drop! A true legend.

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