Two belts better than one: Digby scallop fisherman wins Battle of the Atlantic armwrestling belts

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on January 18, 2016

DIGBY – Phil Carty can’t lose at middleweight.

The Digby scallop fisherman and Canadian armwrestling champion brought home two big shiny belts from the Battle of the Atlantic XVII at the Engine Room in Truro on Jan. 16.

Carty challenged Jim McGeoghegan of PEI for both the left and right middleweight (up to 200 pound) belts and won both challenges three straight.

“I suspect I’ll hold these belts for a long time,” said Carty. “I couldn’t say that at heavyweight, but I can say that at middleweight – I’ve worked hard at this, I’ve put in the time and I intend to hang on to them.”

Carty weighed in at 196 pounds and McGeoghegan at about 185.

“At 185 he’s not going to pin me,” said Carty. “But he is fast – I find with the middleweights I’m absorbing their hits and then bringing them back.”

He says McGeoghegan almost caught him once.

“He is fast and once with the left he got me maybe half way to the pad, but then he fetched up in the power zone,” said Carty.

Carty lost his right hand heavyweight belt to challenger Mark MacPhail of Ben Eoin.

“I wasn’t surprised,” said Carty. “I don’t feel bad losing to someone of Mark’s caliber, he’s the man, he deserves it.”

Carty is sure he lost an edge by dropping down to middleweight, plus sometimes he only had a minute after his middleweight matches before a heavyweight match.

Still he did manage to stop MacPhail for a heartbeat or two.

“I stood him up in the middle of the table and that’s something,” said Carty. “I defended this belt twice – I can pull with the heavies, I’ve proved that, but to hold onto a heavyweight belt against Charlie (McGeoghegan), Mark (MacPhail) and Rob (McNamara) – these are big guys and they’re veterans, they’re tough.”

Carty feels by competing in the middleweight class he’ll suffer less wear and tear and be able to dominate the middleweight class for years to come.

“If you’re not first, you’re last, like Ricky Bobby said,” said Carty. “I want to be number one.”

Carty has won the Canadian Masters (over 40) middleweight arm wrestling championships the last two years – with both arms – and has yet to lose a Masters match.

He has never been to Worlds.

“Once while I’m still on top, I’d like to go and show the world what a boy from Digby can do,” he said. “There’s no doubt I’d be on a podium.”

He also never won a provincial title.

“That’s my plan for this year,” he said. “I want to do well at Atlantics (in April) and then I want to win a provincial title (in May) and then get ready for Nationals (in July).”

Carty won’t be called to defend his BOTA belts until Wharf Rat Rally, Sept. 3.

He’ll find out who the challenger will be on March 12.

Charlie McGeoghegan of PEI beat his brother Pat to take the left hand heavyweight Battle of the Atlantic belt.

Donovan Crouse, just 18 years old of Beaconsfield in Annapolis County went up against Andrew Duncanson for both lightweight Battle of the Atlantic belts and won them both with only one loss in 7 pulls.

Jeff McBride of Digby was second in the amateur middleweight class with this right hand.

Nova Scotia Arm Wrestling schedule

BOTA elimination matches – March 12 in Antigonish

Atlantic Canadian championships – April 9 in Amherst

Nova Scotia championships – May 7 in Sackville

Canadian Championships – July 1-3 in Saskatoon, Sask.

Lobster Bash – July 9 in Digby (amateurs, kids and challenge matches)

Annapolis Valley Ex. – Aug. 20 in Lawrencetown (amateurs, kids and challenge matches)

New Ross Fair – Aug. 20 (amateur classes)

Wharf Rat Rally and BOTA XVIII – Sept. 3 in Digby (plus (amateurs, kids and challenge matches)

Worlds – October in Bulgaria

For more info see