Phil and Cathy Carty of Deep Brook were having a plate of poutine and haddie bits at Pearl’s Takeout in Paradise one day last August, when they saw a poster for an arm wrestling contest at the Lawrencetown exhibition.
“You know we should go up there,” said Phil. “Just to see what it’s all about.”
Six months later Phil has seven medals round his neck and he’s training for provincials.
“I credit all my strength to the way I was brought up and then fishing scallops since 1992,” he says. “As kids we were always doing chores—bringing in wood and what have you.”
The last time he remembers arm wrestling was back in high school. High school was also the last time he did any working out.
He wasn’t much prepared for his very first arm wrestle at the Lawrencetown Ex. He was up against “the guy in the yellow t-shirt.” Everyone had noticed him when they walked in.
“He was a hefty dude and we all figured he’d win the whole thing,” says Carty.
The referee said “Ready, Go” and the next thing Carty knew, he had lost.
“He got me right off the go and I still wasn’t sure if it was ready, set, go or what,” says Carty.
He went on to beat the rest of the arm wrestlers in the open class for men over 198 pounds.
He met “the guy in the yellow t-shirt” again in the final.
Because of the earlier loss, Carty had to beat him twice to win the gold. And he did. He won the right hand gold medal at his very first tournament.
Since then he has competed in four more amateur events hosted by the Nova Scotia Arm Wrestling Association and brought home six more medals.
The Sunset Pub in Digby hosted a tournament during the Wharf Rat Rally on the Labour Day weekend. Carty entered both left and right hand competitions. He won them both – double gold.
Jeff McBride of Digby who competes in the 198-pound class also won silver with his right at the Sunset. With his left he had to compete in the open class with Carty and finished third.
After Wharf Rat Carty joined up with some wrestlers from the area, including McBride, to from the Nautical Seafoods Valley Arm Wrestling team. Nautical Seafoods bought them red t-shirts and put a crest and their names on them.
In October Carty went up to Halifax to Bubba Rays Sports Bar to compete in Popeye’s Pull for the Cure – a fundraiser for breast cancer. Double gold again.
McBride also picked up another bronze with his right in the 198 class but had to settle for fourth with his left in the open class.
Just before Christmas, Carty had an eye-opener at the Battle of the Atlantic at the Split Crow in Truro.
“It was like there was water in my gas,” he says. “I couldn’t hold them. It was frustrating.”
He finished fifth with his right and seventh with his left – behind two of his teammates—McBride and Gary Laird.
He came back from that tournament determined to get stronger. He started working out two or three times a week on top of practicing with the team –either in Beaconsfield or in his own shed at a regulation arm wrestling table he made from scraps.
He was back at Bubba Rays in February and was back in winning form, taking silver with his right and gold with his left.
He’s now getting ready for the Nova Scotian championships on Saturday, March 16 in Middle Sackville at the Springfield Lake Rec Centre.
“Win or lose, I just like the whole atmosphere,” says Carty. “I really like the camaraderie of it. I’ve met so many nice people—interested in the same things. We all get along great.
“I had no idea it was out there or I’d have been into it years ago.”
Cathy has been to every tournament with him.
“It’s intense,” she says. “ I get hooting and hollering and all red. It’s a rush.”
Phil says the crowd is the best part.
“I can’t exert myself to that capacity at practice like I can when there’s a crowd there,” he says, sitting up, his eyes starting to glow. “Man it puts some charge in my arm when they’re all cheering like that."