Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

August 28, 2013

Kentucky Muscle: Grayson brothers headed to arm wrestling championships

By Leeann Akers - Editor
Journal-Times

Aug. 28, 2013 — Competitive arm wrestling has very little in common with the 1987 Sylvester Stallone flick “Over the Top,” that made the sport popular.

With weight classes and experience-based divisions, just like mixed martial arts fighting or dirt track racing, this serious sport is growing.

Benny and Willie Gee are brothers, East Carter graduates who were born and raised in Grayson.

They are headed to the Kentucky State Arm Wrestling Championships this weekend in Leitchfield.

The competition starts Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Grayson County Fair.

“Arm wrestling has a barroom brawl reputation,” Willie told the Journal-Times. “But it isn't like that at all. It has good sportsmanship and healthy competition.”

Willie has been “pulling” since 2011 while Benny joined him last year. Willie is a right-handed wrestler who went undefeated as an amateur.

Benny, a lefty, is forced into a smaller class of competitors and is already pulling with seasoned pros.

“Everyone makes you feel like you have known them your entire life,” Benny said. “It’s a good community and a lot like a family.”

The Gees may travel and train together but arm wrestling is not a team sport.

The two practice standing at the clothes dryer in their father's home, first working the lefty and the righty.

“My brother has no chance of beating me left handed,” Benny said.

“And he can't take me right handed,” Willie added.

Weight training and diet are a big part of the sport. The Gee brothers work out three to five times a week but only arm wrestle once a week.

Benny explained that arm wrestling works the tendons of the arm as much as the muscles but tendons take longer to heal.

The sport is about leverage and grip, as well as determination and mental preparedness.

“It takes a lot of devotion. You can't just lift weights and hope you win,” Willie said.

The Gees do lift weights but both are smaller in stature than one might expect. Both have arms more like swimmers than body builders but they have incredible strength.

Willie demonstrates his daily workout as he installs a windshield in an SUV at Green and Sons Auto Glass.

Willie works on the railroad and has a habit of swinging a sledge hammer with one arm instead of two.

“You can work your muscles anywhere,” Benny said. “You don't have to be a body builder to take someone down in a match.”

The Gees expect to face at least 10 competitors at this weekend's event. Both hope to eventually qualify to compete in the Arnold Classic Feb. 27, 2014.

For training purposes, both wrestlers will be accepting challengers next week.

“You don't learn anything from the guys you can beat,” Willie said. “We want to take on people we can learn from.”

Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.