Athens has hosted numerous sporting events through the years. Football, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and many other sports have been played within the city limits. But in October, a new sport will come to the city, and organizers hope it will open doors for a new type of Athens athlete.
The first ever Limestone County Arm Wrestling Competition will take place Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Athens location of Workout Anytime, on U.S. 72 next to Big Lots. Workout Anytime has partnered with Grip Events to put on the competition, which organizers expect to bring lots of attention.
“Nothing like this has ever been around here,” event co-organizer and Workout Anytime employee Ali Pieper said. “It will create quite a buzz. I think it's a unique event that will bring out a lot of interest.”
The competition will have a youth division, for ages 13-17, and an adult division, for ages 18 and older. There will be both a men's and women's division, and competitors will be grouped via weight classes.
Registration fee will be $75 for adults and $25 for youth.
Limestone County native Brandon Lewter, a champion powerlifter who has been involved with strength sports for a while, and actually came up with the idea, along with a friend, to bring arm wrestling to Athens a few years ago. But it took a while for all the pieces to fall into place.
“Sometimes, ideas don't happen immediately,” Lewter said. “We sat down and watched the movie Over the Top (a 1987 movie about arm wrestling starring Sylvester Stallone) and thought 'Athens needs this.' But we didn't want to go the style of smokey old bar rooms. We wanted it to be professional. We've got brand new state-of-the-art equipment. This will be a first-class operation.”
Instead of a bar room, the event will take place at Workout Anytime, which Lewter said will benefit the competitors.
“You couldn't ask for a better venue,” he said. “Competitors will be able to get warm-up time before the competition starts. Plus, when we have the weigh-ins, they can take place right here.”
Lewter, who is helping organize the event along with providing equipment and referees, said now is a good time for an arm wrestling competition in Athens.
“The strength sports are really picking up right now,” he said. “People are trying to get involved with every aspect of strength, and it's wonderful for us as competitors. The south does not have anything right now pertaining to arm wrestling. West coast, east coast, up north, they have several events, but we are going to bring it back to the south. We're going to be the one and only guys to deal with. Honestly, I think in this little pond, it's going to be over the top.”
The event already has its first two sponsors, Brad Stovall Auto Body Repair Shop and Econo Tech Recyclers, and Pieper said she is hoping to add many more. A portion of the proceeds from the sponsor sales and registration fees will go toward the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans.
“When I think of these (DAV) guys and see how hard they work, it's inspiring,” Lewter said. “You go to their museum, and you're speechless. They do a lot in the community too. We want to be able to help those guys.”
Lewter said he believes the Oct. 26 arm wrestling event will be one of many in the area, which could then expand outwards through north Alabama and southern Tennessee.
“This can be huge,” he said. “The sky is the limit. You think arm wrestling might just be a redneck sport, but there will be a lot of kids and adults happy that there is something new to the area. We are really looking forward to this.”