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Prep Arm Wrestlers to Grapple for Crown

June 04, 1987|ALAN DROOZ

Sylvester Stallone's Rocky-fied version of arm-wrestling may not have gone Over the Top, but the movie created enough interest in the sport to launch a series of contests for high schoolers.

Now, arm-wrestling will come to the South Bay in a big way.

The Redondo High School gymnasium is the site Saturday for the first Southern California Power Grip High School Arm-Wrestling Championships. Registration and weigh-ins will be held from 8 to 11 a.m., with competition going from noon to 6 p.m.

The tournament is sponsored by Cannon Films, which produced Stallone's movie; the Weider Health and Fitness publications group and the International Armwrestling Council. Promoters said it is essentially "a staged event to present a pilot" to potential sponsors in hopes of launching a series of national high school tournaments around the country.

After a number of successful small-scale meets at South Bay high schools, promoters say they expect 300 to 400 competitors--boys and girls--from about 150 schools to take part. Boys competitions will be held in four weight classes--130 pounds and under, 131-160 pounds, 161-190 pounds and 191 and over--and girls will compete in two weight classes, with the break at 130 pounds.

Promoters will present trophies and cash prizes to the top four finishers in each class. They said ESPN cable television network will show several taped programs of the tournament.

But the real show will be the competition, which has appeal on several levels: Competitors don't have to be big or unusually strong, and they don't have to be rigorously trained or go on a regimented program. The sport appeals to "a lot of the kids who normally sit on the sidelines," as well as to women, a spokesman for the Armwrestling Council said. He said 100 of the competitors are girls.

"Arm-wrestling is not totally strength, it's a lot of technique," he said. "Technique is the key. I've seen women on the pro circuit flip big guys completely off the table."

If Saturday's tournament is well-received--particularly by potential corporate sponsors--the promoters hope to launch an 18-city series of high school tournaments, with the champions of each advancing to an overall championship.

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