Arm wrestlers take center stage at county fair

By Jacob Lane · Monday, July 30, 2012
As the clock struck 2 p.m. Saturday, Brian Linderman of Muscatine decided to take a break from his work at the radio stand at the Muscatine County Fair.

A busy man, he had been assigned to cover the fair for radio stations AM 860 KWPC and MAC 93.1. Had anyone passed his area under the grandstand earlier they’d have seen him hard at work.

But then it was time for a little relaxation. Microphone out of hand, Linderman made his way to the Midway Pavilion, a large semi air-conditioned roofed structure with $3 beer and hastily thrown up tables.

However, he wasn’t there for the beer, nor did he plan to indulge in any of the various sugar-coated fair foods. He was there for one thing and one thing only, the Monster Arm Wrestling Competition.

“I’m doing it because he’s doing it,” Linderman said.

He pointed to his son as he said this. Thirteen-year-old Benjamin Linderman wanted to win a trophy so the two made a deal: If father does it, then son will too.

The two weighed in with a variety of other individuals to determine their class. Fellow Muscatine resident Skyler Ketelson joined them.

“My friend just told me to do it. I’m pretty bad at peer pressure,” he said.

Michelle Jones of the Monster Arm Wrestling Company dragged in a special arm wrestling table and signed up contestants.

She informed the crowd that participation means they could, “earn bragging rights for the whole year.”

The machine is a small box shaped table with two barstools on opposing sides. Rather then going hand in hand like a traditional arm wrestling contest, the table pivots the two contestants against each other with a pair of bicycle handle bars in between.

Opponents each grab one of the two sides and attempt to down the other. Lights built into the table indicate the winner.

Ten or so individuals signed up and the variety in gender and weight separated them into many small classes.

This meant Benjamin had no competitors in his class; as a result he was hastily paired with Brandon Eden, an older and stronger man from Iowa City.

Benjamin lost.

Eden downed him, admitting the situation was one-sided afterward.

Eden insisted on moving into the Super Heavy Weight after the unfair matchup. He joined two other men in the class. One of those two men just happened to be Benjamin’s father, Brian Linderman.

A quick coin toss pitted Brian against Eden moments later. The two sat down and prepared for the struggle.

“3…2…1!” moderator Michelle Jones said, and at the drop of the final number, the two engaged in combat. For minutes they twisted and turned. Benjamin watched his father’s efforts.

The even match-up created the longest stand off of the night. Pain danced along Brian’s face, but he never gave up. Soon enough the light turned on.

A happy Benjamin greeted his father afterwards, but the reunion didn’t last very long.

Thanks to the win, Brian was scheduled to wrestle against the much larger and experienced James Grassi of Coralville for the championship.

“He’s not going to win, he’s going to go down fast,” Benjamin said. However, he said his father was brave for taking on such an opponent.

Brian Linderman was easily defeated. But in the end that didn’t matter.

“He had me hands down the whole time,” he said of his final opponent. “But it doesn’t matter. I avenged my son’s loss.”
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