Students compete in inaugural CAWL to Arms arm wrestling tournament
Arm wrestling is taken a lot more seriously than many people might expect. There is even a collegiate tournament dedicated to the sport.
“I do it to gain experience, compete, to maintain my physical regime and to be healthy and fit,” said Nicholas Leonardis, a senior art history major. “At the same time, I wish to experience personal development as a man by using the dedication and discipline that goes into every aspect of my life here on the arm wrestling mat.”
On Nov. 17, Leonardis, along with five teammates, competed in the inaugural CAWL to Arms Tournament in Asbury Park, N.J. The event was hosted by the College Arm Wrestling League, an organization that gathers college students from around the Northeast area to arm wrestle competitively. The tournament will air on ESPN2 and ESPNU in April, May and July of 2014. The winning team gets a $10,000 grand prize.
Four schools were invited to the event: Rutgers University, the University of Connecticut, Pennsylvania State University and Syracuse University. Each team consisted of six members (three men, three women) and Syracuse faced UConn on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. Because the tournament doesn’t air until 2014, results are not yet publicly available.
“It’s been an experience of a lifetime to be able to represent Syracuse on ESPN,” Michelle Carazas, a junior entrepreneurship and marketing major, said in an email. “I learned it’s not about your size when you arm wrestle, but rather your technique.”
Technique, along with training, plays a vital role in the sport, Leonardis said.
As an aspiring Olympic weightlifter, Leonardis already had the strength — he said he hopes to be considered among bodybuilding greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger when “it’s all said and done.” But since arm wrestling is more than a simple duel between two people, he said, there was a lot he had to learn.
He first picked up the hobby when a representative from CAWL contacted him, gauging his interest in the sport. He then acquired the appropriate gear — regulation tables, pads, handles and a set of rules — and formed a practice regimen. He soon learned that the sport, in addition to attaining his own physical goals, takes up a lot of his time.
Eventually he developed a technique that catered to his upper body strength. He uses the shoulder roll, which involves flexing the shoulder and leaning sideways to decrease the surface area between the shoulder and the table.
Aside from training, he also focused on his diet to prepare for the competition. Leonardis said he uses three main supplements after he works out: creatine, multivitamins and fish oil. He said fish oil is the most important because it’s helpful for the recovery of joints. Leonardis said he took his preparation so seriously because the Syracuse team is relatively new to competition.
“We wanted to get a sense of what our team needs to do to compete and do our best against other schools,” he said. “These kids are active, have a lot of technique, and we feel our team was least experienced coming into this tournament.”
Even with little experience as a team, members were excited to be invited to the first-ever CAWL tournament. Eileen Bell, a senior finance and entrepreneurship major, said she made some great connections at the tournament with her teammates, and also with the opposing athletes.
“I never imagined I would be representing Syracuse University in an arm wrestling competition, but I have learned so much and have met some remarkable people that truly made this experience one to remember,” Bell said in an email.
Other Syracuse team members include: Steve Zavilensky, a junior health and exercise science major; Kelly Sheptock, a freshman communication and rhetorical studies major; and Kevin Mata, a senior health and exercise science major.