Strong arm challenge

Par Raymond Berthiaume
Strong arm challenge
PR armwrestling finals

“It was a home run,” said Phillipe Lauzon, one of the event coordinators, as he described the overall results of the Prescott-Russell Secondary School Athletic Association’s (PRSSAA) Eastern Regionals Arm-Wrestling Championship.

The PPRSSAA chose Hawkesbury to be the host community for the association’s first sponsored arm-wrestling tournament. Almost 200 athletes from a dozen schools across the Prescott-Russell region and also other parts of Eastern Ontario competed in boys and girls junior, senior and open-class divisions during the day. ESCRH won the team championship title.

The multi-school athletic event has been a special project for Lauzon and his fellow coordinator Dan Tremblay as part of the return of high school competitive athletics since the pandemic shut down all large-scale sports gatherings.

Lauzon himself has an active competitive arm-wrestler for 16 years, including membership in local school arm-wrestling clubs. But, he said, there has never been an actual inter-regional arm-wrestling competition focused on student athletes in the sport.

“What better time then to do this than this year with sports coming back and open to the public?” he said.

Arm-wrestling has been a sport for decades but for most of its enthusiasts, it has been confined for the most part of informal competitions. Large-scale competitions have existed but never received the same kind of public attention as organized team sports like hockey, baseball or football, or individual sports like golf, tennis, or track-and-field.

Lauzon noted that the growth of social media or online platforms like YouTube have helped give arm-wrestling, both amateur and professional, a bigger public profile. He also observed that compared to some other organized sports, arm-wrestling is “more accessible” to more students because it does not require expensive equipment for competition.

“Arm-wrestling is getting bigger and more popular,” he said.

That new popularity includes creation of personalities in the sport, like Devon Larratt, Canadian arm-wrestling champion and a familiar face around the world to many fans of “grip” sports thanks to his YouTube program that provides coverage of arm-wrestling events, including those in which he competes. Larratt was the special guest ambassador for the Marh 24 event at ESCRH and expressed his own excitement during a phone interview about the PRSSAA East Regionals event and its potential to help popularize arm-wrestling as a high school competitive sport in Ontario.

“This has been a dream from the beginning,” said Larratt, Canadian arm-wrestling champion and global personality in the forum of “grip” athletics. Larratt, whose YouTube program covering the world of competitive grip sports, was the special guest ambassador for the March 24 event at ESCRH.

“This was a historical event, what we did last week,” said Lauzon, adding that the success of the Eastern Regionals Championship has the potential to become a permanent part of the PRSSAA’s sports schedule and help encourage more schools in the rest of the province to develop their own competitive arm-wrestling teams.

“I would like to see that,” he said. “It’s my objective.”

The event is live-streamed on YouTube at

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