Muscles Flex for Crown at Arm Wrestling Championship

A display of brute strength and endurance took over Cheap Shots Bar in Flushing, as some of the best arm wrestlers from around the world competed for the "King and Queens of Arms" title at the 39th Annual Big Apple Grapple. NY1's Van Tieu reports.

It takes intensity, focus and, most of all, muscle.

The 39th annual Big Apple Grapple International is a show of strength. It's the premiere event for the New York Arm Wrestling Association, where a man and woman are crowned the "King and Queen of Arms." 

The honor within the world of arm wrestling isn't for the weak.

"You have to be the best," says NYAWA President Gene Camp. "King and Queen of Arms are simply the best arm wrestlers, some of them in the world."

More than 100 men and women flexed their brute strength and endurance in the Big Apple Grapple at Cheap Shots in Flushing Sunday. There are many rules, but the basics: elbows stay on pads in the ring, bars and table can be used as leverage, and referees keep it fair.

"My favorite part about it is watching the grimacing faces and the tenacity of the contestants," Camp says. "Competition is extremely intense. Like I said, no one wants to lose today. Everybody in this room thinks they can wi."

Bragging rights and more than $4,000 in cash prizes are at the athletes' fingertips.

For Richard Calero of Puerto Rico, the men's left-hand championship title is his to defend.

"I have butterflies. It's always exciting," he says.

Calero says he trains five to six hours a week. It isn't about bulking up all over, but using resistance training to build up certain muscle groups in the arms, he says.

"If you’re going to take this sport seriously, you want to focus on the hands, the wrists, the fingers and biceps," Calero says.

Otherwise, you may feel the stinging pain of defeat.

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