19 Feb 2014

Steve Stanaway - BRUTAL

Pulling For Six Decades

Steve Stanaway was 23 when, on a lark, he and a buddy drove from Virginia to New York City to compete in the 1968 World Arm Sports Federation (WAF) Contest. With literally no arm wrestling training, Steve, who is now 66, placed second to the then heavyweight world champion, Maurice Baker, who, at 265 pounds out-weighed him by almost 70 pounds.

 Steve vs Jim Van Orden - World Arm Wrestling Championship - Scranton 1971
 Notice that contestants sat at a wooden table and gripped hands in the center.  
There were no elbow pads, just hard wood.

Forty-two years later, Steve won first place in the 198-pound Master’s class in the Atlantic Coast Arm Wrestling Championships in Yorktown, Virginia. And in so doing, became perhaps the first arm wrestler to ever win in major sanctioned contests in six different decades (1968-2010).

World Arm Wrestling Federation Championship - May 1977
From left: Steve Stanaway - winner, Steve Woodall 2nd and Neal Goldberg 3rd. 200 pounds Class

During that six-decade period, Steve has won 30 national and world arm wrestling titles and more than 300 trophies. A solid foundation in power lifting was the basis of his early arm wrestling success. In 1968, prior to competing in the New York City WAF contest, Steve won the 198-pound division of the first Virginia powerlifting championship. He benched 460, squatted with 450 (he claims he could have done more but an old football knee injury hampered his squats), and 550 deadlift.

Al Turner the toughest opponent

But arm wrestling was his passion and he stormed through the 1970s winning numerous national and world championships in cities across the United States and in other nations. His first World Arm Wrestling Federation (WAF) championship win was in

Scranton, PA, in 1970; he went on to win that title again in 1971/73/74/75/77. He remembers fondly the eight world championship matches he had with legendary Al Turner. Al and Steve each won four of those matches, and Steve describes Al as the “best arm wrestler I ever pulled.” He also believes Roy Ridgely, who won numerous WAF heavyweight championships and beat the legendary Mo Baker in the 1970s, was the “strongest man in the sport.” Roy and Steve were training partners for nearly two decades.

 Steve & Al Turner - Action in 201-220 pounds Class

Other highlights of Steve’s pulling career included winning the Carling O’Keefe World championships (198-pounds) in Timmons, Ontario (Canada) in 1977 and 1979: in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2002 (master’s 198 division); and in Tokyo, Japan (50-years-plus division) in 2005. Other achievements in the sport include the John Miazdzyk Arm Wrestling Award presented in Brazil for being the “Outstanding Arm Wrestler” in the 16th WAF championship in 1995; and the “Arm Wrestler of The Year Award” presented by the American Arm Wrestling Association in 1978.

Steve’s accomplishments in arm wrestling were recognized when he was elected to the Virginia Peninsula Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. This is unusual because athletes inducted into this prestigious organization are almost always from widely-popular sports such as baseball, football, basketball, etc.

Referee for 24 years

Steve gave back as much as he received during his six decades in the sport. For instance, he was director of referees for both the American Arm Wrestling Association and the World Arm Wrestling Federation from 1981-2005. He also co-hosted three AAA National contests (Williamsburg, VA, 1979; Fairfax, VA, 1984; and Newport News, VA, 1981) and co-hosted two World Arm Wrestling championships (Virginia Beach, VA, 1996 and 2000). He was head referee for all the Yukon Jack International and World Championships, and head referee for the Arnold Classic until he stepped down in 2003.

Print screen: Steve as a referee - YUKON JACK 1994
Final of Heavyweight Division: Gary Goodridge vs Cleve Dean

Arm wrestling has taken Steve literally around the world as he competed in 22 countries (he liked Greece the best). He retired from the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Newport News, VA, in 2009. Steve has maintained his 198-pound weight for the entire six-decade period.

Written by Jim Van Orden (2010)

Steve vs Paul Schmidt

Steve vs Rick Levine

Steve & his brother Randy showing how the hands get a good hold

 2005 Hall of Fame Inductee - Virginia

Read other articles written by Jimmy Van Orden here...