About a year ago the CrossFit Journal featured a series of videos on Travis Bargent, a contender for the world championship of arm wrestling. At the time Travis was the subject of a documentary charting his attempt to become the undisputed world champion of arm wresting, overcoming the legend that is John Brzenk.
“John who?”, you ask? John Brznek was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Greatest Armwrestler of All Time”. He has dominated the sport for over 20 years! I’m fairly sure that is a feat that no other athlete can (or may ever) be able to claim.
Now, I’ve never really been that interested in the world of “strength culture”, (wrongly) writing it off as overly macho, steroid fuelled, and somewhat freakshow-ish. But this film has really changed my mind.
The synopsis (from imdb.com):
John Brzenk is a new kind of super hero: a real one. His superhuman strength is arm wrestling. Having beat every competitor on the planet he now battles age as well as the two titans from opposite ends of world, pining to claim his throne.
The film follows the dominant, but aging Brznek, along with Bargent and the colossal Ukranian, Alexey Voevoda as all three compete to take the title.
It is a terrifically put together film, very well edited and paced. It shows all sides of the competitors – both their professional and provate lives. It gives an amazing insight of what it is to be at the very upper reaches of a sport, especially one as physically demanding as a one-on-one strength contest.
More than anything else, the humility of these men shines through in the film. They are inhumanly strong, and yet humble and gracious in victory and defeat. A true model for all modern sports, in my opinion.
It also manages to put the idea of their strength into a bit context as well. During a number of scenes showing the training that these men undertake, one in particular stood out for me:
In this scene, Voevoda is doing one-armed L-pull-ups (plural) whilst hanging from a kettlebell that has been suspended from the ceiling. For the record he weighs around 125kg (275lbs). In short: Wow…!
It is a great film, and I highly recommend trying to pick up or rent a copy.