Local competes for national title

Marcus Zerr finished second in his age and weight class at the Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championships

Hope’s Marcus Zerr takes on Darrell Steffenson of Manitoba at the Canadian National Arm Wresting Championships in Charlottetown

He might look friendly enough… but if Marcus Zerr invites you to try out some arm wrestling, you’ll probably want to change the subject.

Zerr finished second in his age and weight class at the Canadian National Arm Wrestling Championships in Charlottetown PEI, on the Victoria Day weekend.

With his weight training and ability, there aren’t many locals who would have a chance — though some of his eight kids like to try.

“All of my sons take me on,” said Zerr, with a confident grin. “Kellen has beaten me once. He’s a little lighter than me — and I arm-wrestled after a workout… but we won’t tell him that!”

At age 54, Zerr competed in the Grand Masters 80+ Kg class — which should have topped out at 90 Kg — but also included two heavyweights.

“The biggest guy was 375 pounds,” said Zerr. “The organizers decided to mix the 240+ pound weight class with mine. There were only two guys in that class and nine in mine.

“I finished second in my weight class (and fourth in the combined). They’re going to give me credit for second, so if I place first or second next year, that will entitle me to go to the Worlds.”

Wrestling the heavyweights was a daunting challenge, he said.

“You still have to have the technique side of it — but the weight helps a lot,” explained Zerr.

Arm wrestlers compete standing up and can shift their feet and lean their bodies to gain an advantage. The bench has a handle for each wrestler to hold onto with the free hand and a pad to keep the wrestling-elbow on. Tight strings on each side help the referees determine when a win has been made. If a wrestler’s arm is forced onto the string, the match is over.

Zerr said he missed a first-place win in his class because of a technical error against Darrell Steffenson of Manitoba.

“I had him within an inch and a half of the rope and I lifted my elbow off the pad. You’re allowed two fouls and that was my second.”

To get a better feel for the sport, I asked Zerr to walk me through a safe-and-slow version of a match. We knelt and used a bench at the rec centre’s Reflexions gym, where Zerr does his weight training.

“One ref will line up your hands and one more ref watches for square shoulders. And you can’t cross the centre line with your hand or shoulders,” explained Zerr.

Before the referee lets the match begin, he’s holding onto the clasped hands of the competitors.

“You’re fighting for the best grip and finger position,” said Zerr. “Who’s going to control the hand from the start?

“There can be a lot of complaining and bickering (before the start),” he added. “I’m told that I’m pretty generous… I guess that comes from inexperience.

“Two typical moves are a sharp hook or a roll over the top — or a combination of both,” said Zerr, as he showed me with a deft twist of our wrists. I immediately saw how I would be in trouble, even against a less-muscular opponent.

But there is hope for losers.

“Defensively, if you are losing, you move close to the centre line and turn your hand around,” said Zerr. “If you’re getting really bent, you go down with your upper body. Your core is as tight and tense as you can get it.”

In his younger days, Zerr was a weight lifter and competitive cyclist in Saskatchewan — and he won a provincial arm wrestling title.

“Then I got married and raised a family.”

As his kids have gotten older, there has been a little more time to get back into fitness and sport, so he hits the gym for three or four one-hour sessions per week.

“It’s mostly upper-body,” he said. I get a cardio work out, too, because my sets are very intense. One is the bicep curls. On the cables, I get up to 225 pounds and eight reps.

“That’s a maximum right there. I try to keep most of the reps between five and seven. I’m going for strength and not body mass.

“I try to be explosive on my way up and slow on the way down,” he explained, saying this makes it like an arm wrestling match. “If you’re getting beaten, it’s a slow pull-down… unless the guy’s a real monster.”

For the technical side, Zerr takes a long drive each month to train with the Vancouver Arm Wrestling Club, where he wrestles and gets lots of coaching tips.

Next up is the Summerland Open, on June 7. Zerr won a silver medal there two years ago.


Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read