Pro-armwrestling grandad from Flitwick bags gold medal in gripping championship showdown

The win was particularly emotional since he had said goodbye to his late dad the day before
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While some might associate armwrestling with entertaining offspring or settling sibling disputes, Mark Waldon is among many across the world taking the game to professional heights.

The pro-armwrestler, who has been recognised as such by the Professional Armwrestling Association in the UK, recently bagged a gold medal in the three-day European Championship.

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The 53-year-old was among some 300 competitors who took part in the championship, held in Finland, on Saturday (May 20).

It proved a gripping contest.It proved a gripping contest.
It proved a gripping contest.

Mark, who is from Flitwick, bagged the gold for his category – Grand Masters – which included competitors aged between 50 and 60.

The grandfather-of-two took up the lesser-known sport three years ago, although he was not unfamiliar with the world of pro-armwrestling – having dabbled with it in the 90s.

But it wasn’t until 2020 that Mark re-discovered the sport on YouTube while bedbound with pneumonia.

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Now the retired civil servant trains weekly with the Milton Keynes Armwrestling Club, which includes learning a series of attacks, counter-attacks and defences he says take years of training to become proficient in.

Mark (far right) with the UK and Ireland team.Mark (far right) with the UK and Ireland team.
Mark (far right) with the UK and Ireland team.

He said: “The armwrestling community is fantastic. It's inclusive, friendly, helpful and fun, and I very much enjoy the social aspect of the sport.”

His training has progressed to a competitive level, including the European Championship, where he took home a gold medal.

Mark, whose fate was uncertain after losing an earlier match, described the crucial moment that led to his victory over a 30-year armwrestling veteran.

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He said: “I had to do something special to get the two wins needed to win overall.

“With the help and advice of my teammates, I was able to counter his attack and win the first match. I knew he would adjust and so the second match would be closer and it was. We were locked in the centre table for around 30 seconds – which feels like a lifetime – and I had to wait for him to tire or take up a bad position and he did. I took advantage and drove his hand to the pad, getting the second win.”

Mark’s success was particularly poignant since the championship took place the day after his father’s funeral.

He said: “My dad was very proud of my achievements in armwrestling and would always ask how I got on after an event, and would then go on to ask when was I getting paid. Each time I would explain that I do it because I love the sport but that didn’t stop him asking the next time.

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“I was so absolutely elated with winning the gold for myself, my father and my country, and so proud to stand on the podium while our national anthem was played. I really did have to hold back tears.”

The sport was founded in California in 1952 where it quickly grew to a tournament level. In the UK it is described as one of the fastest growing sports.