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Northern Ont. students ready for provincial arm wrestling championship

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Students from Espanola are competing in the Ontario Provincial Arm Wrestling Championships in Sudbury this weekend.

Categories include youth, masters and senior/open. Weigh-ins take place on Friday with the competition starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The students are involved in the arm wrestling club at Espanola High School, a team of 13 members.

The club was started a year ago by Gabriel Keresztesi, the woodworking teacher at the high school. Keresztesi has always had an interest in the sport but was introduced it on a competitive level by a student.

"He introduced me to the idea that there's technique involved and rules and competition," he said.

"Since I always enjoyed doing it, I thought other students might so that’s the whole idea."

He wanted to start a club a number of years ago but said it has taken some time to ensure the sport is played safely.

Abby Hannah, a Grade 9 student, said she enjoys the sport because it's helped her grow stronger.

"I like challenging myself and trying new things, pushing myself," Hannah said.

Thirteen students from Espanola are competing in the Ontario Provincial Arm Wrestling Championships in Sudbury this weekend. (Photo from video)

Grade 10 student Aiden Taylor said he got involved in the sport because it's fun.

"I was never a big fan of sports and me and my buddies screwed around with arm wrestling," Taylor said.

"Mr. Keresztesi started the arm wrestling club, so I started from there and got real good."

Keresztesi said the biggest misconception about the sport is that you have to be the strongest or the toughest person in the room.

Best technique wins the match

"The person with the best technique wins," he said.

"The culture around it is who's the toughest. It's not like that at all -- it’s about everyone helping each other out, being positive, being encouraging."

He added with the pandemic causing a surge in content viewing sites like YouTube, arm wrestling has become a spectators' sport.

"It's really exciting to watch, so it's become more popular," Keresztesi said.

Additionally, students have been interested in participating in the sport.

"There's widespread casual interest in the school, lots of kids come down on lunchtime or special occasions and arm wrestle each other," he said.

"The ones willing to train every week and put their names on the line, it’s a smaller number, but widespread interest for sure."

In total, 300 arm wrestlers will compete at the Holiday Inn on Regent Street. The Espanola team will compete at 11 a.m. Saturday. 

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