Figures locked in wrist wrestling combat.

Wrist Wrestling Capital and Statue

Field review by the editors.

Petaluma, California

Brawny competitors with arms like Popeye descend on Petaluma once a year to show off their wrist wrestling prowess (also called arm wrestling and ArmSports). The competition started in 1953 in a Petaluma bar, and gained popularity as it was promoted by a young local reporter, Bill Soberanes, who founded an organization to keep the sport going.

The World Wrist Wrestling Championship convenes ever October in a large auditorium in town, with over 300 competitors vying for titles.

Bill Soberanes monument.

Soberanes died in 2003, but he was immortalized in 1988 as part of a statue in downtown Petaluma. On a square stone tile base is a bronze sculpture, from the elbows up, of two men in a competitive death grapple -- one grimacing with right forearm veins bulging. That's Soberanes. The other figure is based on a long-reigning championship winner of the past. The figures are strangely rendered as one-armed, and the back of their heads are hollow (and sometimes filled with trash and cigarette butts).

A plaque below the sculpture, shows an older Soberanes in a suit and holding a pipe, and reads: "Bill Soberanes - Argus Courier columnist and Peopleologist. Petaluma's number one booster and founder of the World Wrist Wrestling Championship and numerous other events. Trade Mark - He's been photographed with more famous, infamous, usual and unusual people than anyone in the world. He's the World's Number One People Meeter."

Wrist Wrestling Capital and Statue

Address:
423 East Washington St., Petaluma, CA
Directions:
Petaluma Boulevard and Washington St. Directly across the street from the Petaluma history mural.
Hours:
Championship - early October.
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