Arm wrestling is not just a men's sport, say PAA competitors

  • By Liam Evans & Nicola Bryan
  • BBC News

image source, Carol Jones

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„It's not as scary as people think,” says Carol Jones, who wants more women to compete

When people find out about Carol Jones' hobby, they often seem shocked.

„They were like, 'Oh my God, really? Arm wrestling?' They are shocked and wonder why,” he said.

The school cook, 40, will compete in the first Professional Arm Wrestling Association (PAA) regional competition in North Wales on Saturday.

„It's not as scary as people think, and it's not just for men,” Carroll said.

He was one of a group of five gathered in a garden shed in Neffin, Gwynedd, to train ahead of a competition in the nearby village of Edern.

image source, Carol Jones

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Carroll has been building strength in the gym, but said technique is more important

The mother-of-two said she could see her love for the game rubbing off on her four-year-old daughter.

„She sees me going to the gym and says, 'Mum, I'm going to be as strong as you,'” said Carol, of Bwlheli.

„I'm trying to teach her to be confident, she can do whatever she wants and not be what society wants you to be.”

She said her 15-year-old son was less impressed.

„He's a little embarrassed if his friends see me,” she laughs.

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Sian, left, and Carol will compete in the first Professional Arm Wrestling Association (PAA) regional tournament in North Wales on Saturday.

Carroll spends time in the gym building muscle, but said arm-wrestling is more about technique than strength.

„You have to learn to use your whole body… You win, but if you get stuck, change your position… It's very attractive,” he said.

And she likes to see girls get involved in sports.

„It's a family-oriented event, people bring their whole family to these matches, it's a very friendly community… it's a respectable sport,” he said.

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Reuben Hughes, left, trains new recruits in his garden shed

Learning disabilities staff nurse Sian Hughes, 41, from Neffin, trained alongside Carol after being introduced to the sport by her husband Reuben.

Reuben took up the hobby two years ago after reading about it on Facebook and now trains once a week with a professional in England.

He has already placed in the top three in the Novice category at UK competitions and is training newbies, including Sian and Carol, in his garden shed.

image source, Family photo

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Sian, Reuben and their children attend events across the country as a family

For years, Sian and their children, ages 14 and 16, traveled the country for his matches, but he recently got the arm wrestling bug.

„I am motivated to compete… this is my first competition and yes.. it will be an experience,” said Sian.

Although he is relatively new to arm wrestling, he said he is already feeling the benefits.

„It's good for your mental health, it's good for your physical health, it's different,” he said.

„It's very good, especially if you are in a stressful job, you can go to the table and forget everything and concentrate.. It will be good.

Like Carol, Sian said people are often surprised to learn about her hobbies.

„I'm only 5ft 1in (155cm) and I'm quite small, so it's not something they expected,” he said.

„It's a different thing, you're not following the crowd and doing what you expect women to do.”

What would they say to other women considering getting into the sport?

„The community is very special.”

„Don't be shy or too scared or think you're not good enough,” Carroll added.

„It's all shapes and sizes and all different strengths and it really pays off.”

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