Newburyport is home to the world heavyweight arm wrestling champion. A sport performed by millions of people around the world to determine an advantage in strength or toughness is actually a real, yet largely unknown sport with its own international league.
The organization is called the Ultimate Armwrestling League (UAL), which recently held its World Heavy Weight Arm Wrestling Championships in Chicago. At that event, Rob “The Vigilante” Vigeant came away with the title. Vigeant took the time to talk about his accomplishment and the underground sport that he has dedicated much of his life to.
How long have you lived in Newburyport?
“I’ve been in Newburyport for a few years now. I am from Lowell originally and moved around quite a bit. I was living in southern New Hampshire for a while, and now I have been here in Newburyport for going on four years now.”
You just won the World Heavy Weight Arm Wrestling Championships. Can you talk about that tournament and what it took to win it?
“In this country, it’s an underground sport, like how skateboarding was 20 to 30 years ago. The athletes take it seriously, though. In Russia and Japan it’s a huge way of life for them. The athletes in this sport are as serious as any other sport, so winning the World Heavy Weight Arm Wrestling Championship is a very big accomplishment. These people are heart-attack serious about it. It’s a total body sport, for every single muscle in your body comes into play when you’re competing at the highest level.”
What is the strategy in arm wrestling for people who may not be familiar with your sport?
“There’s a lot of different strategies. There’s a lot of different approaches people use and it depends on your body type. Some people choose to use leveraging-type techniques while other people use raw power. People who are big bench pressers may use big chest and triceps muscles to push on their opponent, whereas former gymnasts who have a lot of arm and back strength use the lats in their back to pull the person’s arm from their body. The strategies that go into my sport are a lot like fighting. People with longer arms may be boxers while people with shorter arms are probably inside brawlers. Once you get involved in it and see what works best for you, you use specific exercises for your craft. The go-to for every arm wrestler is very strong arms, shoulders and wrists.”