Mark Owen, a long-time St. Johns resident, recently won the Armwrestling World Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in the 50-59 year old category against competitors from 30 countries. He also leads a local group that competed as a team and won in three other categories: Masters 1st place team (over 40), Senior’s 1st place team (under 40) and Overall 1st place team.
Owen got interested in the sport of armwrestling more than 40 years ago. Since 2012, he’s led a weekly gathering at his house for those who want to practice the sport and socialize. They are named the Brute Squad after characters from the classic movie, The Princess Bride.
Though the armwrestling is not yet an Olympic Sport, Owen notes there are a half-dozen competitions in the US this month alone. “Overseas it’s bigger than here—European nations are more into muscle sports. He added that, “We’ve been waiting for it to become and Olympic sport for the last 30 years. With the internet it’s getting more popular. Competitions are now live-streamed on Youtube.”
What he likes best about the sport of armwrestling is that it’s “One on one. There’s a lot of camaraderie within the sport. Even those who are not competing enjoy it. People that beat you often tell you how to beat them.”
The weekly meetings give members of the Brute Squad, both men and women, a chance to work out and practice for competition. There are around 30 in the group. Owen said, “I am very much a teacher. I’m always coaching.” He estimates it takes about three years, more or less, to pick up enough technique to start competing professionally. Each professional match can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and each arm wrestling table has two referees.
Owen individually works out twice a week. Typically it consists of exercises for the hands and arms. “It’s about the forearm and hands, not biceps. As a competitor, you have to watch out for Popeye, not a guy with big biceps,” he observed. Owen rarely misses a workout. “It’s a lot of fun but it’s a lot of work too.” He attributes his recent success to hard work.
Besides his avocation as an arm wrestler, Owen has a wife and four children. He works at Caliber Collision on N. Fessenden St. in St. Johns where his large, Great Pyrenees mix, Charlie, accompanies him to work.
Congratulations to Owen and others on the Brute Squad!