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Big crowd and big names attend local arm wrestling event

The Fit II Fight Armsports League’s The Duke Invitational drew some big crowds and larger-than-life characters for their second annual professional arm wrestling event

When Kayne Hemsing envisioned the Fit II Fight Armsports League, he wanted to bring the best arm wrestlers in Western Canada together.

The league began with The Duke Invitational in 2018 and the second version of the Duke on Feb. 2 saw some big names and strong competition competing at Bugsy’s. The event drew a strong field from across the prairie provinces.

“With a lot of tournaments you don’t see that kind of travelling, but now the league is into our second year and we’ve built a good name,” said Kayne Hemsing from the Fit II Fight Armsports League. “We’ve got some good sponsors behind us. It’s very well run. We use first-class refs and we have first-class awards. We probably had more than $3,000 in payouts from our super matches and our Fit II Fight belt matches.

“That’s what we’re trying to promote, a professional arm wrestling league, where some of the best in Western Canada can come and compete against each other.”

The event drew close to 60 total entries in all of the classes and featured three super matches.

The headline super match featured three-time world champion Ryan Espey from Portage la Prairie, Man. and Jeff “Popeye” Dabe from Minnesota who has 19-inch forearms and entered the Guinness Book of World Records as having the biggest ring size for his massive hands.

“Ryan took this match very seriously. They both prepared. They had both wanted to pull each other for a long time,” Hemsing said. “Jeff being a big dude with some of the biggest arms and hands in the world and Ryan being in the top three in the world in the left and weighing in around 360 pounds. He wants to be No. 1 in the world again. He’s been there twice before.

“He came in well-prepared and didn’t take Jeff lightly.”

Espey won the left hand main event with three straight victories. He had won two world titles in 2002 and 2003 and then won the title in the Masters category in 2018. Hemsing said Espey is “on a mission” and he was ecstatic to beat Dabe in the main event.

“He hit him hard. He took his hand away from him. He grabbed him down low and used straight power and a straight hook and didn’t let Jeff use his big hand and top roll him,” Hemsing said.

The two huge men were the main attraction and Hemsing said it was great to bring them in for the event.

“They were both really great ambassadors to have in Moose Jaw for this tournament,” he said. “Any time you can get people who are in the top-10 in the world to come to our little city and compete, it’s great. We had 10 or 20 people who came in from all over just to see that match. They weren’t even competing, they just wanted to see the match and meet those guys and get their picture taken.”

Hemsing won his best-of-five left arm co-main event super match 3-1 over Sean McCallum of Grande Prairie, Alta.

“He’s been bugging to pull me in a super match for years,” Hemsing said. “He beat me in the first match, so I pulled up my big boy pants and won the next three. I had to out-think him and out-smart and use a little old school technique and I was able to beat him 3-1.”

The first super match lived up to its expectations as Moose Jaw’s Brandon Olafson met Stan Scott from Winnipeg. They had met twice before and each had one once in their right-arm clash.

“This was a grudge match,” Hemsing said.

Olfason won the first two matches, but Scott came back to win the next two of the best-of-five.

“Brandon was able to pull it out for the big win and you could not hear. It was so loud in there,” Hemsing said. “Their matches were two minutes long. They’re such equal pullers. You won’t find two guys who are so equal. They were just grudge matches, back-and-forth.

“That was a great co-main event. We knew it would be and it got the place rocking.”

After three events in 2018, the Duke was the fourth event that the Fit II Fight league has put on. Hemsing was pleased to see between 10-12 competitors in each class.

“I’ve been arm wrestling 18 years now and I always had this idea that we wanted a professional arm wrestling league in Western Canada,” Hemsing said. “There’s so many good pullers in Saskatchewan and across Western Canada, but we have nowhere to go.”

Hemsing said there will be a third annual The Duke Invitational in 2020 and there is a lot of interest in hosting their next league stop.

The event also raised $1,500 for the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation to cap a great night.

“Everybody won a little bit of money. Everybody had an incredible time. Everybody got to pull people that they had never pulled before. A lot of people made new friends and at the end of the day we got to help sick children,” Hemsing said. “And you got to do something that you love. How can anyone who attended, myself and the sponsors, how can we not feel good about that?”

Fit II Fight Armsports League No. 4 Results


Women’s Right Arm 0-154 lbs.

1. Brittany Sutherland (MB)


Men’s Left & Right Arm 0-176 lbs.

1. Ty Sakal (AB)

2. Blair Weitzel (SK)

3. Curtis Holthe (AB)


Men’s Left 177-209 lbs.

1. Jaden Majensky (MB)

2. Joel Goodsell (SK)

3. Clayton Turcotte (SK)


Men’s Left 209+ lbs.

1. Dillion Houghton (AB)

2. Marc Guay (AB)

3. Dustin Houghton (AB)


Women’s Right 154+ lbs.

1. Brittany Sutherland (MB)

2. Christine Latimer (SK)

3. Kim Mcnutt (SK)


Men’s Right 177-209 lbs.

1. Joel Goodsell (SK)

2. Jaden Majensky (MB)

3. Chris Evans (AB)


Men’s Right 209+ lbs.

1. Marc Guay (AB)

2. Dillion Houghton (AB)

3. Clark Evans (SK)

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