Interview: Daniel "Iron Man" Mosier, competitive arm wrestler


Arm wrestlers compete at a tournament. - COURTESY WORLD ARM WRESTLING LEAGUE
  • Arm wrestlers compete at a tournament.

The most dangerous place at an arm-wrestling tournament, Daniel Mosier says, is the novice table. There, he's seen 12 or 13 broken arms from inexperienced competitors who don't understand proper positioning and technique in this up-and-coming sport based on the familiar barroom test of strength (and will).

Mosier, a 39-year-old industrial plant foreman from Lake Charles, returns to New Orleans this weekend to compete in World Armwrestling League's Southern Classic, the "Battle in the Bayou." He's a nationally ranked arm-wrestler who has traveled throughout the U.S. and to tournaments abroad to compete in the sport's middleweight division. He spoke with Gambit by phone in advance of the tournament to share a little bit about the one-time hobby that eventually consumed his life.

Gambit: This is kind of a crazy, unusual sport. How did you first start doing it?

Mosier: I competed in the novice class (at an Ohio tournament) and won the novice class. ... It was kind of like a little hobby thing at the beginning. Then I met more people and got more involved in it and realized I was going to be good at it.

I figured if I was going to be good at it, I would train for it and get even better.

What is the training like? How is it different from other sports?

M: I go to the gym about five, six nights a week. We train with different types of exercise bands, rubber bands, real heavy weights with like, curls and lat pulls and back training.

Even with your fingers and your thumb, and all that, you have to train everything in one because if you don't have a strong hand, and the other person gets your wrist or your hand flopped backward, it's really hard to come back from a bad position like that. You have to have a really strong hand to begin with, because that's your connection to the other person. And if your hand gives, you're in a bad position and you're going to lose.

It's a lot of pain and your joints hurt sometimes. There's injuries, sometimes, you have to work through — and it's a lot of mental dealing with the injuries because you don't know how well you're going to heal up, and how soon you're going to be able to come back to it, or if you're going to be able to compete anymore.

Tell us about competitions. Do the rivalries get pretty heated?

M: You get to a big tournament and see a lot of the same faces, the same guys that you've had matches against before. And that gives you something to work for, too, if you had a match with someone and they beat you one time before, they're coming for revenge that second time around.

People use different techniques, as far as their arm length and their strength level and all that. ... You have to do a lot of research, like Youtube videos and watching matches from other tournaments. ... You have to do your homework.

(But) 99 percent of arm-wrestlers are, like, really respectful and helpful. ... If they beat you, they'll walk away from the table and tell you what you did wrong, and help you with your training, so you can get better.

How do you size someone up, if you haven't competed against them before?

M: It's hard to tell someone's strength just by looking at them, because tendon strength is different than muscle strength. You can see (the size of) people's muscles, like bodybuilders. ... When you see an arm-wrestler, you might see someone who looks like they don't even lift weights or work out. And then they almost rip your shoulder off, they're so strong.

Are you feeling good about the tournament this weekend?

M: I feel really good. ... My training partner, he's one of the toughest guys in the whole (weight) class. He's the one that trained me and taught me how to arm-wrestle. ... I know we'll probably have a match against each other there. I've never beat him before at a tournament, so my chances are kind of slim on that.

(But) you have to be mentally prepared for it and plan to win the whole thing. If you think you're going to lose, you're going to lose.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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