Arm wrestling champion pulling for world title

Lt(N) Will Sarty

Lt(N) Will Sarty


Joanie Veitch
Trident Newspaper

Despite physical setbacks, Lt(N) Will Sarty is going to the World Arm Wrestling Championships in Orlando, Florida, next month, representing Team Canada for the fifth time.

He is a top medal-winning athlete at the regional, national, and international level and has his sights on winning again.

“I’m going to the podium this year. I feel super healthy and confident going in,” he says. “I’m feeling strong and I’m just getting stronger every day.”

The championships usually draws between 2,500 to 3,000 athletes, competing in many weight classes, but due to COVID-19 restrictions participation numbers are down this year. He will be one of about 40 athletes representing Team Canada in both right and left arm matches.

He has come a long way since 2015, when he attended  the World Arm Wrestling Championships in Malaysia. He placed fourth, but an injury from the 2013 world championships in Poland was still giving him trouble. 

He underwent physiotherapy and the Personnel Support Programs’ (PSP) reconditioning program, and recovered enough to win gold at both regional and national championships in 2014 and 2015.

He took another gold at the regional level in 2016, but knew he wasn’t anywhere near full recovery as his pain was getting worse.

He had a UCL tear, and years of arm wrestling had left him with osteoarthritis from shoulder to fingers, along with bicep tendonitis, both radial and carpal tunnel syndrome, and bone spurs.

“I knew I had to retire from the sport but it was devastating for me. It took me two days to write my retirement message and it took another week for me to be able to hit send. It had a huge emotional impact.”

Not one to give up, he made some big changes. He began intensive rehabilitation with PSP and at home began practicing yoga for at least half an hour every day to improve blood flow throughout his body.

Over time, the new regime paid off. As the pain diminished and he began to regain his strength; so he took up rock climbing, a sport that, like arm wrestling, relies on a weight-to-strength ratio.

He began arm wrestling again, feeling strong enough to start a club and get back into doing regular matches. After returning from the Baltic in February – where he was deployed in 2020 – he went back to his arm wrestling club in Lower Sackville to train with Team Nova Scotia.

 “Going to the worlds this year is a fantastic opportunity — it’s very nostalgic — but am I going to compete every year at the worlds? Nope, probably not,” he says. “I know my body and I know I can’t train as hard as I used to, and I’m not willing to hurt myself just to win. I don’t need that.”

Lt(N) Sarty began arm wrestling in high school after a plumber doing work on his family’s property gave him some pointers.

“He was a multi-time national arm wrestler. He pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to learn.”

A natural at the sport, Lt(N) Sarty began training and came home with a bronze from his first provincial tournament on July 26, 2000, adding two more bronze wins at nationals in Manitoba later that same year.

Now known as “Armbender” in arm wrestling circles, he has won 22 national medals, including 15 consecutive golds. A qualified coach and trainer, Lt(N) Sarty has also written a manual on arm wrestling.

 In preparation for the world championship, he studies video matches of his potential competitors and compiles profile sheets to review with his training team at the Nova Scotia Arm Wrestling Association. 

“At the world level, the mental game is huge. You have to know what you’re dealing with.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.