Minnesota Armwrestling History

Fun Fact: Todd "Toddzilla" Hutchings was born in Minnesota in the 60's! He didn't start competing in Armwrestling though until later in life when he lived in Michigan.

Armwrestling in Minnesota can be dated back to the 1970's when Richard Lupkes started competing in local armwrestling tournaments. Jerry Halverson started running wristwrestling tournemants (similar to armwrestling) in the 70's. In 1981, David Bauer (2002 WAF World Armwrestling Champion at 121 lbs) won an armwrestling tournament that his school had. After that, he didn't think much about armwrestling but in 1984, Jerry Halverson held a wristwrestling tournament in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, which Dave went to. After that, he started competi
ng in more of Jerry Halverson's wristwrestling tournaments.

Meanwhile, in Worthington, MN, Richard Lupkes was destroying farm boys and guys at bars in local armwrestling tournaments. In 1986, he competed in his first large-scale tournament, one of the biggest tournament ever, the Over the Top tournament, where he took 3rd, losing to 22 year old John Brzenk. After that, Rich started training seriously and won back-to-back World Titles in 1988 and 1989 in the superheavyweight division.
He beat John Brzenk severel times in the late 1980's - in fact, John Brzenk and Gary Goodridge seemed to be the only armwrestlers who could even slow him down! Standing near 6'3 and weighing a little over 300 lbs., Rich would put on a weight belt with 300 lbs. of weights and do dips (that's over 600 lbs. total being pushed up). In the early 90's, Rich suffered several injuries and decided to take some time off.

In the late 80's, David Bauer saw an armwrestler named Rhett Houdek, from St. Paul, on Jerry Halverson's wristwrestling rankings. He had thought that he was the only one from Minnesota who armwrestled! He and Rhett hooked up and started training. Dave went to the World Championships in 1993 where he took 2nd place right handed and 3rd place left handed at 55 kilograms (110 lbs.). Meanwhile, several other armwrestlers, including Marty O'Neil and the fearsome Jason Remer, began armwrestling in the Twin Cities area. They met up with Dave and Rhett and started training. Imposing fear throughout the midwest, Jason, Rhett, Marty, and Dave would win almost any tournament they went to. Dave was a lighter man, only about 121 lbs., and at most tournaments the lowest weight class was 0-154 lbs. so Jason and Rhett were more successful at most tournaments. In 2000, Jason Remer placed 2nd at WAF Worlds at 187 lbs. David Bauer attended Worlds several times, and finally won in 2002 in the 55 kg (121 lbs) weight class.

In 2000, Harold Ryden from Lanesborro, Minnesota, went to his first armwrestling tournament at the Fillmore County Fair in Preston, Minnesota. After that, he went to another tourname
nt where he met Rhett Houdek. Rhett invited Harold to train with them and so Harold started training at Dave Bauer's house every week with all the other arwmrestlers. In 2001, Harold got his friend John Grant to start armwrestling. John's first tournament was at the Fillmore County Fair. In 2002, Harold was getting pretty good and was holding his own with some of the better armwrestlers in the midwest, but he moved to California. He still armwrestlers and he has had a successful armwrestling career so far. He trains with the legendary armwrestler Alen Fisher, World Champion Vazgen Soghoyan, and national champion Jake Smith.

Jason "The Mighty Oak" Remer had a very successful career, winning a couple national titles, and beating armwrestlers such as World Champion Michael Selearis and "Monster" Michael Todd. His most famous win, however, was when he beat John Brzenk one time with each arm. After that, he quit armwrestling. Why he quit is a mystery, some people say he was having problems with his family, others say after beating the best armwrestler in the World and only winning $1000, he said to himself "I'm the best armwrestler in the World and I won $1000. If I were the best basketball player, football player, or baseball player, I'd be making millions. This isn't worth it." Jason left the sport around 2005. We all hope that he returns to the sport one day. After that, things started to fall apart. John Grant stopped armwrestling in 2006. Rhett Houdek had a successful career and even beat Allen Fisher once at 165 lbs. before moving up to 198. He stoped competing when he had to have surgery in his right shoulder after tearing some tendons (which didn't occur while armwrestling) in 2007. He still shows up to practice on occasion and pulls left handed. Marty O'neil had a successful career, being known as one of the best armwrestlers in the midw
est. He competed at 176 lbs. and placed as high as 2nd at Unified Nationals. When everybody else quit, so did he. David Bauer kept on competing at somy of Jerry Halverson's wristwrestling tournaments but stopped traveling to big tournaments.



The New Era: Josh Handeland and Yosef Chalbi were armwrestling each other in 1st Grade (1996) on the lunchroom table. Josh always liked to armwrestle, as did Yosef. In 2007, Josh found out that there were competitions, but couldn't find any armwrestlers from Minnesota to train with or go to tournaments with. Josh, 17 years old, didn't want to drive to Missouri and South Dakota all by himself just to compete. Looking for Minnesota armwrestlers online, he got in touch with Harold Ryden, who hooked him up with David Bauer, who hooked him up with Jerry Halverson. On May 10th, 2008, Josh and Yosed went to their very first wristwrestling tournament in Cresco, Iowa, and were hooked ever since. After that, they hooked up with John Grant, who, after a 2 year break from armwrestling, w
as trying to get back into the sport and start training. Josh, Yosef, and John started training together and going to tournaments. Now they are amateurs, and they go to tournaments all over the midwest.


Andrew Bieganski from Grand Rapids, MN, started armwrestling in 2006, and has attended several tournaments, mostly in the North Dakota and Montana area. He didn't meet up with the Minnesota Muscle until 2010.

Several other people who are just starting their armwrestling careers with the new era pullers practice with them sometimes and go to tournaments with them including: Jason Bauer (Dave's Bauer's son), Erin Meyer, Aaron Gillespie, Carl Brandl-Salutz, and Ashley Grant (John's wife). David Bauer also practices with them sometimes but them sometimes but is contemplating retirement, something the new era pullers are trying to get him to reconsider. Brandon Hareldson and Pete Reck, who have been armwrestling for a few years, also train with the new Minnesota Muscle pullers on occassion and go to some tournaments, but as of now mostly do it for just for fun.

Richard Lupkes also came back to armwrestling in August 2007 when he attended the Unified National Armwrmestling Championships in Kansas City, Missouri. He won the Grand Masters Heavyweight Division there and took 3rd in the open division. In October, he took 3rd at the ROTN, beating Travis Bagent one time. In 2008 he won the Arnold Classic, beating Tim Bresnan and John Brzenk, and took 2nd at Unified's Nationals in Salt Lake City after tearing his bicep while pulling Tim Bresnan on the A Side in the finals. Early 2009 saw Mr. Lupkes in a head-on car crash with a semi. Thankfully he was okay and 2 months later he beat Nick Zinna 3-0 for the Heavyweight Toproll Title, then won Unified Nationals in June in the Open, Masters, and Grand Masters Heavyweight Division. He tore a disc in his back a month after that and had to have surgery, but has been back in full force in 2010!!! He was undefeated at every tournament he attended (right handed) including Nationals and Worlds! His only loss was at the end of the year in a supermatch with Devon Larratt (ranked #1 in the World) who was able to beat Richard 6-0! Watch out for Lupkes in the upcoming years!

2008 and most of 2009 saw John Grant, Josh Handeland, and Yosef Chalbi representing Minnesota (apart from Lupkes) but near the end of 2009, things began to change. The trio saw a big farmboy named Adam Kruger at 3 different local tourneys in a one month time span, and he won 2 of them, beating John Grant with both arms. Josh asked him if he'd be interested in attending some bigger tournaments and he said yes, so he started training but only every now and then. Marty O'Neil also came back for 6 months in 2009, training hard for the ROTN, where he ended up one win away from making top 6 (right handed). In December, Adam King started coming to practice, not every weekend but most weekends. Josh found Adam, a former amateur strongman, on the Arizona Armwrestling Website looking for MN armwrestlers. 2010 was a big year for adding members to the team. John Grant, with a baby in the family and building his own house, was around a lot less this year, and most of the year saw Josh and Yosef going to tourneys together and doing quite well in the open classes. Josh put on 2 novice-only tourneys this year and also organized the Minnesota State Armwrestling Championships! Many people contacted Josh about getting involved in armwrestling this year, but only a few have showed any amount of dedication; Paul Buchanan (a U of M student who Josh knew, but he didn't know Paul had natural talent in AW until the first novice-tourney), Jacob Baker (long time friend of Josh and Yosef who practiced with Yosef on a rare occasion but didn't get serious until 2010), Jack Weber (who Josh and Yosef met at the Fillmore County Fair, Jack had competed in 2 tourneys in Iowa in 2003 and wanted to get serious now), and Cameron Easter (high school friend of Josh's who attended one practice in 2008, and wanted to try it again). Andrew Bieganski from Grand Rapids also met the team at MN States and went to Kentucky Muscle with Josh, Adam Kruger, and Yosef. The end of 2010 also saw Matt Brouse join the team. Matt was born in MN, but moved to Michigan for college, where he competed in strongman and did armwrestling for a short time period. Matt had moved back to MN in the summer of 2010.
Comments