It is a sport that perhaps all of us have engaged in every now and again, but more so casually. It is a sport we often see being captured in the cuteness of our childhood, and something that reminds us of our ‘coming of age’ years.
It’s robust, it’s swanky and muscular. Superiority in this reminds us all, regardless of the gender that who the real king is!
Arm wrestling is way tougher than any of us can imagine. While it is true that the sport thrives on muscular and arm-strength, it is also an intelligent duel that’s big on technical skills. There are few games where a contestant has to apply both physical power and mental strength and arm wrestling is one such stand out contest.
Must it be said that despite our country thriving big on Cricket, in an age where other sports are shining and taking the Indian flag high around the globe just as much, it is thanks to rising names such as the daring Punjab lad “Anmol Sandhu” that arm wrestling is not lagging behind.
Cheerful, young, muscular and with enough time on his hands to write history and perhaps re-write it, 19 year old Anmol Sandhu’s meteoric rise in the field of Arm wrestling is a story worth catching up with. It is an inspirational tale of a young man’s determination to carve out his destiny in a sport that sadly lags behind when it shouldn’t speaking of front page headlines and of some daring and skill.
We were thrilled to catch up India’s most sought after name in the mercurial and thrilling arena of arm wrestling and to chalk out some fascinating highs from Anmol’s memorable journey that’s only just begun
Q. It is a pleasure to interact with you champ. Tell us firstly, how old were you when you forayed toward arm wrestling
Hi. It’s likewise. Perhaps you won’t believe and it gives me some pleasure to share this, I was just 15 when I gravitated toward arm wrestling competitions. Arm wrestling contests come in two different categories: junior as well as senior. Then there are different weight categories.
The former is a category that includes contestants who are below 15 years of age and it further includes 9 or 10 different categories. From the very beginning, I trained quite hard and wanted to excel in this sport. I knew that if I had to make it big, I had to be focused and put all my energies from the word go.
Q. So how does Arm Wrestling go about as a contest when compared to other sports? What are the categories in the sport from which one emerges as a champion?
See Arm Wrestling is quite different from other sports, be it Cricket, Hockey or Tennis. From where I see, you’ve got to take each and every contest as your last and the ultimate aim of an individual has to be, rather should I say, should be to emerge as winner of the “Champion of Champions trophy”.
But for this, one has to win his own weight class first. For instance, if I am competing in the weight category of 90 kg plus, then I have to first stand out on top in the said category to qualify for the “Champions of Champions”.
All the gold medalists who hail from different weight categories have to compete against each other in order to stake their claim on to the title
Actually, I started out in 2014. It seemed extremely tough in the beginning if I tell you honestly. What the audience doesn’t know about Arm Wrestling is that it is an extremely popular and competitive sport, both here in India and outside.
Winning is in everyone’s mind like with every other competitive sport. But then this isn’t a team sport, it is a very individual driven contest and that’s what makes it equally grilling and tough.
Q. When did you compete in your first national level event in arm wrestling. Tell us something about that time.
But at the turnout of the competition, I finished 2nd in the open weight category in Juniors and also in seniors.
Post that, I won the treasured “Champion of Champion” title in junior category but then I lost in the “Champion in Champion” senior category.
Q. That is so fantastic. Many congratulations. Who was your competitor in the Senior Champion of Champion competition?
Well, I was much younger to my opponent. At that time in Agra, my competitor was a way more experienced 25 year old lad.
Q. What happened after your glorious run in Agra?
Well things changed a bit back in the family circle for me starting 2015. It was in January 2015 that I along with my family moved to New Zealand.
My parents at that time were truly aware of my passion and focus lying in arm wrestling, knowing clearly that I wanted to go further high up and explore myself in a sport where I had just affirmed myself.
I asked my mom in Auckland (that’s where Anmol resides) if I could travel to India from time-to-time so as to compete in other arm wrestling competitions. And to my great relief mom and everyone were so supportive of my decision. It was thanks to their encouragement that I prepared myself for other future challenges and competitions in arm wrestling
Q. And could you tell us which were the other contests that you participated in?
It was Fitex, that took place in Noida in 2015. It was the month of November. I had started to train 3 months in advance for this specific contest centered on arm wrestling among other health activities and contests.
My motive was singular and clear: I wanted to be the best in India in arm wrestling and I knew that if I had to prove myself as the very best then winning the Fitex would be the best way to do it.
But even at that time, I lacked the experience that other contestants had on their back, I was still so young you know! But then, that was the motivation that pushed me.
I must share that Fitex has no junior or senior sub-categories. At the end of it, I won it all. I won every single competition.
Out there, in the 90 kg category, I pulled off 7 to 8 contestants and then in the “Champion of Champions” category, there were 6 more categories and I defeated all. In some ways you can say, Fitex is the biggest of its kind unofficial North India tournament.
Q. That is so incredible I have to tell you. What did you do post your fantastic Fitex triumph?
I was extremely pumped up and determined to try for even bigger triumphs which basically meant, Punjab State Arm Wrestling Championships. This is truly an elite competition. I got another 2 months to prepare for this competition.
I competed in both junior as well as the senior category. Success here means that you can represent the country in Nationals!
And I am glad to share I won the competition in both Junior as well as Senior category.
Q. What were the reactions coming your way after your incredible success in Punjab?
It was just incredible. I got huge recognition from all over whether it was Delhi, Punjab itself, neighboring Haryana and elsewhere.
You could say that my success sort of spurred a wave of curiosity among people, many wanted to know that who this Anmol Sandhu was (smiles :))
There’s one more thing that I’d like to add. At the moment I am the youngest American Counsel of Certified Trainers in India. At the age of 17 I did it.
Q. Anmol its very important to know that what motivated you to take up fitness so seriously and to gravitate toward arm wrestling?
You know its quite interesting. From a very young age, I’ve been a fitness enthusiast. Friends funnily call me a fitness freak. I took to serious gymming at 11. It’s been in my mind from the initial years to be fit and to do something in the line of fitness. I began power-lifting at the age of 15.
But I think when we speak of arm wrestling it is experience also that matters but since hopefully I’ve got a long way to go, I think that too is a matter of time before experience can hone my craft further.
Q. What according to you has been the turning point in your journey in competitive arm wrestling?
For me, winning the Fitex was that point. Every individual in the arm wrestling fraternity knew me at that time.
Q. Who are their role models in your life?
I am quite inspired by Devon Larratt, from Canada. He is one of the best arm wrestlers in the world and at 6’6, this Ottawa born champ has won the Masters of the Universe Award. But being supported by my family also helps.
Q. Tell us how do you remain so focused in your sphere of competitiveness?
It’s pretty simple. I have a one track mind. I do not let people affect me. It really doesn’t matter to me what people say or talk about me behind my back. Like everyone, we all have our detractors but I think, it’s positive thinking that has truly been as essential companion in life.
Q. Are there other interests in your life that you find out time for?
I love traveling and adventure sports the most. But actually, am mostly all about my fitness and healthy eating regimen. It pretty much is about arm wrestling at the end of the day.
Q. Are we going to see you soon in India?
Yeah sure. I am going to be competing in the Nationals of Arm Wrestling to be held in Delhi soon. Hopefully, that should be interesting too.
Well with such stupendous success and at the ripe age of 18, the world at the moment pretty much seems to be an arm’s reach for the daring and dashing Anmol Sandhu. Not just for the future of the sport but also for our lovely India, we hope that it remains that way!