Local captures championship belt at Belleville arm wrestling event

Tyler Robinson continues to take the Ontario arm wrestling world by storm.

The 22-year-old Moorefield resident, last year named Rookie of the Year by the Ontario Armwrestling Association (OAA), captured the overall championship belt (left arm) at the Arm Melter 13 event in Belleville on Feb. 11.

Robinson defeated Nicola Gazzetto 3-0 in a best-of-five “super match” at the event, which is organized by promoter Joe Gould and billed as the Canadian Professional Championships Supermatches.

“I was pretty surprised and happy,” Robinson said of his victory.

He explained the Arm Melter event features super matches between opponents who otherwise would not face one another due to different weight classifications.

Friend and training partner Jeff Oosterveld, of Drayton, says the Arm Melter win could open up many opportunities for Robinson, including the chance to travel to tournaments in the U.S. and Europe.

There is some money to be made in the sport, Oosterveld explained, but not so much within Ontario’s borders.

He is hoping sponsors will step forward to help Robinson pay for travel expenses that could be incurred as the young competitor ascends the arm wrestling ranks.

“I see the potential in him,” Oosterveld said of Robinson. “And I don’t want him being held back [by finances].”

Robinson has been a fan of arm wrestling since he was very young – watching the 1987 Sylvester Stallone film Over the Top certainly didn’t hurt – and he has “fiddled around” with the sport for years.

“I liked it ever since I was a kid. I think it’s one of the best Sports out there,” he said.

But he has only competed seriously for about two years, which astounds those familiar with the sport.

“I’ve been in it for five years and I haven’t come anywhere close to what he’s accomplished,” Oosterveld said. “The dedication and time he’s putting into it is just incredible.”

Previous titles held by Robinson in the sport include southern Ontario champion in his left arm and third for his right arm (in the 177 to 198 pounds category), as well as western Ontario champion for his left arm and second for his right arm.

Robinson works out daily, whether at home or at the local  gym in Drayton, and said he has seen immense improvement from three years ago, when he regularly won arm wrestling events at Paddyfest in Listowel.

“I feel way stronger now,” he said. “I’ve been training really hard to get good enough to travel around the world.”

Oosterveld said the next step is spreading the word about the sport and Robinson’s vast potential to attract sponsorships that could make the dream a reality.

Having known Robinson since he was a young boy, Oosterveld says there is no one more deserving of the opportunity – or of the success –  than Robinson.

“He lives for arm wrestling,” said Oosterveld.

Born with cerebral palsy,  Robinson’s doctors originally told his parents he would never walk.

He overcame that hurdle some time ago, but as recently as 2009, Robinson still required the use of walking aids to get around. But thanks to his perseverance and dedication to working out, resulting in improved balance and strength throughout his entire body, he has left those behind.

“He’s never let his difficulties hold him down; they drive him,” said Oosterveld.

“I wish I had the drive and desire that he does … he’s just an incredible guy.”

Robinson’s mother, Deb, agrees her son has come a long way – both in life and in the sport of arm wrestling.

“He’s doing just great. We’re so happy for him,” she said, adding his most recent win at the Arm Melter 13 event was particularly impressive, considering the calibre of his opponent.

Oosterveld said many people are in awe of Robinson’s meteoric rise in the sport. He is a crowd favourite at tournaments and has become extremely popular among his arm wrestling peers.

“It’s incredible for him. His muscles react slower than [normal], so he’s working twice as hard as everyone else,” Oosterveld said.

Yet Robinson remains humble and steadfast in his goals.

He is appreciative of the support from Oosterveld and other mentors – including several on his Harriston Havoc team – and for now, he hopes to enjoy continued success at area tournaments, including the Mike Gould Classic in Oshawa in March.

Ultimately, the long-term goal remains success on a much grander scale.

“I really want to be a world champ. I’ve been training my butt off to get that good,” said Robinson.

To help him reach his goal through a sponsorship, call Oosterveld for more information at 519-741-7268.

For more information on upcoming tournaments visit ontarioarmwrestling.com.