Meet Steve Phipps

Hi Steve –

How long have you been armwrestling?

I’ve been tournament armwrestling for 32+ years.  I’m 45 and now compete in the Masters Division as well as the Open Left Division at most tournaments.  I broke my right elbow/arm in 1996 and again in 1997, so it’s not as good as it once was. Two right handed classes on the same day is too much stress, so I’ve learned my limits.

How did you get started?

I grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington.  I would armwrestle my friends at school and my cousins and uncles at family reunions.  When I was 13 my Dad had me doing the undesirable jobs on the farm, while the hired help were busy with the more desirable jobs.  I went to my Dad and told him I didn’t think it was fair.  He said “Let’s armwrestle and if you win we’ll see about a change.”  We armwrestled, he won and said “OK, get back to the field.”  I set a goal to beat my Dad at armwrestling, so in addition to the ditch digging, bucking hay bales, sprinkler pipe changing and picking up rocks I began lifting weights.  Later that year I saw an ad in the local newspaper for an armwrestling tournament.  I entered the Junior High School Division in the Heavyweight class.

What happened?

I won that first tournament. Fran Ayers who was a Women’s World Wristwrestling Champion put on that tournament with her husband George.  I had seen her on TV and was quite impressed that I had met a world champion.  I don’t think they even noticed me, but three years later I entered the Pacific North West Championship that was held in Kennewick, WA.  The tournament was run by Doyle Clapper and sanctioned by the World’s Wristwrestling Championship, Inc., which I had watched on “ABC Wide World of Sports”.  For me, this was my first shot at big time Wristwrestling. They only had adult divisions, so I had to convince my parents that I wouldn’t get hurt.  I had finally beat my Dad at armwrestling earlier that year and as he was the best armwrestler I knew I felt I would have a good chance of at least winning a few matches.  I caught the Ayer’s attention at this tournament after about 6 wins. People began asking who I was, and did I know whom it was that I just beat?  Apparently I was doing great, because I had beat a good local champ.  I didn’t know enough to be afraid of losing.  I was just taking each match one at a time and trying to do my best.  I ended up wristwrestling the defending PNW Champion in the quarterfinals.  We locked up and armwrestled for almost 5 minutes. He beat me, I was exhausted, but I had given it my best effort.  The Ayers invited me to their armwrestling practices and told me I needed to learn some technique to go with my natural strength.

What have you done since then?

I didn’t get too serious about armwrestling until I graduated from college and missed competitive sports. During High School and College I would armwrestle during the summers at local tournaments in the PNW.  I was busy with football, wrestling and track in high school so I stayed in good shape.  I wanted to play pro football until I seriously injured my shoulder in a motorcycle wreck. The MD put me in a traction device for 6 weeks and told me football was not going to work out for me.

Well what exactly have you won all over the world?


11 World Championships, 5 right / 6 left

(including a rare “Double-Double” winning World Titles in Wristwrestling and Armwrestling with both arms, the same year)

31 National Championships

Yukon Jack Regional Champion

Western U.S.A. Champion

P.N.W. Champion

Numerous State Championships including

Washington, Oregon, Idaho & Hawaii



1983 Sportsmanship of the Year

1992 Armwrestler of the Year

1997 Most Dedicated Armwrestler of the Year

  Team USA

To Russia, 95 & 96; Japan, 99; Finland, 2000; Italy 01

Armwrestling Workouts?

I host armwrestling practice at my home most Tuesday nights from 7 – 9 p.m.  We have a number of World and/or National champs from Washington State that practice together, including Jacob Abbott, Alan Bown, Wayne Fredrickson, Tim Storey, Lance Whitehill, Mitch Cady, Andy Medak and Lance Kent.  Most practices we have 5 – 20 armwrestlers.  I have found that “table time” is the key to being a good armwrestler and “table time” with other good armwrestlers is the key to becoming your best.  I also know that without them I would not have accomplished what I have in armwrestling. Sometimes practice ends up being harder than the tournaments if you train correctly with a group of guys like this and end up being lucky at the tournament. We make each other better. I am happy to train armwrestlers and I feel that I am returning the favor for those armwrestlers that took the time to teach me.

 I lift weights 2 to 3 times a week and try to get in 2 to 3 cardiovascular workouts on the treadmill per week.  I focus on upper body weight lifting, with even more focus on arms and forearms.  I’ve developed a number of different exercises and types of equipment for arm workouts out of necessity.  One of the simplest solutions came about because I began injuring my wrists, when I got to the point I was wrist curling 225lbs with the straight bench press bar.  I was strong enough to do sets of wrist curls but as my arms fatigued I would lose balance of the weight and the weight would twist my wrist sideways causing injury to the small muscles and connective tissue on the side of the wrist.  I went to the farm and cut up a PTO shaft, which was just small enough to fit the Olympic sized plates yet strong enough to hold a number of 45lb plates.  I then was able to center the weight and have progressed over the years to the point where I now do wrist curls with 360lbs.

 I also squeeze a gripper during the day, as I drive from one sales call to the next.

Recommendations For New Armwrestlers?

Find a group of armwrestlers to practice with.  It will greatly improve your progress.  Don’t expect to be a great armwrestler over night, very few are, most will have to pay their dues with hard training and very sore arms.

Thanks Steve for the great information!  



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