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Arm wrestling getting a grip in Asheville

An arm wrestling match about to begin (WLOS staff).jpg

ASHEVILLE -- Driving past the Rocket Grill on Charlotte Highway last Saturday, you may have noticed all the "American Muscle" in the parking lot. Rat rods, convertibles, and old school cars lined a parking lot next to a gas station; but just a few parking spots down you could find the real muscle in Buncombe County. "I've been arm wrestling ever since middle school," smiled Bobby Searcy.

"And I've always been good at it."

Searcy is a former North Carolina state arm wrestling and decided to bring his passion to western North Carolina. He organized the "Over the Top" arm wrestling competition, along with the car show, to give both seasoned grapplers and curious first-timers a chance to check out the sport. "You've got to have three "-iles" to be an arm wrestling champion," Searcy joked. "Agile, mobile, and hostile. In that order."

Those may be the qualifications to be an arm wrestler, but unlike the playground version most people remember, there are rules at this level. Competitors must hold on to a peg with their non-competing hand, cannot lift their elbow off a pad, and cannot open their hand during the contest. "It's all about good technique," said Searcy as he demonstrated. "Shoulders straight across, good balance. and the palm has got to take your arm all the way down."

Among the competitors Saturday was 260lb Chris Blackwell, who has not lost an arm wrestling match in eight years. "Always loved it," Blackwell explained. "Mano y mano, one arm versus another arm to see who's stronger." Blackwell again made quick work of his lone competitor to snare the super-heavyweight title. One look at Blackwell and you can guess that arm wrestling may be something he could be good at; it was the opposite way for Searcy growing up, which drove him to succeed in the sport. "It's just earning the respect from another person at something everyone's good at and tries to be good at," Searcy reflected. "When I leave this world I want everybody to say, 'Now that boy was a good arm wrestler. One of the best.'"

Searcy is attempting to organize another competition for later this year. He said he will donate all proceeds from this event to Buncombe County teachers to help pay for school supplies to start the academic year.

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