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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

423 East Washington St., Petaluma, CA
Petaluma Boulevard North and East Washington St. Directly across the street from the Petaluma history mural.
Championship - early October. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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In the region:
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