1 Jun 2014

This Day in Armwrestling History... MAY DATES

May 1st, 1970

The 9th World Wristwrestling Championship is held in Petaluma, California. There is a record number of entries, as it is the first World Championship to benefit from significant television exposure. (The 1969 World Championship had been broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in January. This was the first time the sport had been featured on national television.) Exactly how big is the event? 37 states are represented and there is a total of 437 entries! 17-year old Petaluman Mike Dolcini wins the 175-pound division for the second year in a row. When he won the 1969 title at just 16 years of age, he became the youngest person to ever win a world title. Jim Pollock, a 34-year old insurance executive from Palo Alto, wins his third world title in the middleweight (200-pound) division. He manages to beat the very strong Steve Stanaway from Virginia in the finals. But the crowd is most pleased when 19-year old, 243-pound Jim Dolcini wins the heavyweight division, as it the first time a Petaluman wins the unlimited world title. The Dolcini brothers are understandably elated: the teenagers had just won two of the three men’s titles at the World Wristwrestling Championship, in their home town, and their matches were going to be shown on national television!

May 2nd, 1981

The first day of competition of the International Wristwrestling Championships is held in Chicago, Illinois. The event is organized by the International Wristwrestling Club (IWC) headed by Maurice Rioux. The IWC has only been in operation for approximately one year, and is already putting on huge tournaments. This particular contest features a total prize purse of $38,000! Pullers from 25 states and 2 provinces are in attendance. The event features left and right mirrored weight classes: the IWC is the first major armsport organization to do so. Dave Patton, Johnny Walker, and Cleve Dean all win their respective classes, with both arms. And the ladies lightweight right hand class is won by Fran Brzenk (John Brzenk's aunt), yet another member of one of the most successful armwrestling families in history!

May 3rd, 1968

The 7th World’s Wristwrestling Championship is held in Petaluma, California. The event receives more media attention than ever before, thanks to the Championship being featured in a Peanuts storyline during the 10 days leading up to the tournament. Charles Schulz’ comic strip is the most popular one in the world, which results in millions of people learning about Petaluma and the Wristwrestling Championship for the first time. A couple of teenagers shine on this day. John Brayton, a senior in high school, wins the 32-man lightweight class and 17-year old Jim Dolcini takes the 200-pound title by beating 1967 champ Jim Pollock in the finals. (Dolcini had lost to Pollock in the 1967 200-pound final at only 16 years of age!) Mickie Novis wins the Women’s Division for the second year in a row. And 1963 Unlimited Division champion Duane “Tiny” Benedix comes out of retirement after a five-year hiatus to become the first person to reclaim the Unlimited Division world title.

The final Petaluma-themed Peanuts strip is also published on this day. Snoopy had been training for the Championship, but in the end he is disqualified because he has no thumbs!