Arm wrestlers vie for the prize at Big Apple Grapple

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Photo gallery

Rego Park's Lasha Krikheli (c.) appears determined to beat his opponent. Photo by Christina Santucci
Chris Tsintavis (l.) of Bayside takes on James Sismanglou of Astoria during the 36th NYC Big Apple Grapple International, held at Cheap Shots in Kew Gardens Hills. Photo by Christina Santucci
Ana Kenah was named NYC Queen of Arms. Photo by Christina Santucci
Bayside's Patrick Baffa (c.) looks up at the ceiling as he faces off with Lajos Konya of Hungary. Photo by Christina Santucci
Elmhurst native's Mike Selearis holds up his hand after winning the championship in the 199+ pro category. Photo by Christina Santucci
Oleh Frankviskyy (r.) yells as he struggles for victory. Photo by Christina Santucci
Jason Vale of Queens Village uses his weight to give himself more force. Photo by Christina Santucci
Queens Village's Jason Vale watches as his hand is strapped with his opponent's. Photo by Christina Santucci
Competitors face off against one another, surrounded by judges to watch every angle of the match. Photo by Christina Santucci
The hardware for the winners was on display during the matches. Photo by Christina Santucci
Serge Petro of New Jersey struggles to push his competitor's arm down. Photo by Christina Santucci
Joyce Boon (l.) practices against her boyfriend, Harry WIlson. Photo by Christina Santucci
Leo "Max" Maxwell jumps up and down as he prepares for his match. Photo by Christina Santucci
Chad Lundy (r.) watches the proceedings. Photo by Christina Santucci
Jozsef Bedegi (l.) takes on Chad Lundy. Photo by Christina Santucci
Aptly named Matt Hand (l.) sets up his stance with opponent Anthony Loria. Photo by Christina Santucci
Julio Rosario (c.) of the Bronx struggles during his match. Photo by Christina Santucci

A number of brawny men and women turned out at Cheap Shots Sports Bar in Kew Gardens Hills to compete in the city’s premiere arm wrestling championships Saturday, many of them seeking the thrill of besting an opponent using nothing but sheer will — and upper body strength, of course.

“It’s one man against one man,” said competitor Anthony Loria from Long Island who trains in the borough. “It’s a healthy hobby: no steroids required.”

The Big Apple Grapple International Arm Wrestling Championship brought together pros and beginners alike to the bar, at 149-05 Union Turnpike, where the mood during the several-hour event was spirited, with beer-swilling onlookers cheering on sweat-drenched competitors.

Some of the matches were over almost as quickly as they began, with the winners seemingly effortlessly forcing their opponents’ knuckles to the wooden table top. Others stretched on, neither arm budging while muscles trembled and veins bulged.

In the later of these scenarios, the emcee would shout, “Unbelievab­le!”

Lasha Krikheli, of Rego Park, was a right-handed amateur competitor in the 176-pound weight class. He said the championship was his first time competing after years of arm wrestling with friends for fun.

“It’s always been a hobby,” he said. “It’s a good way to release stress.”

He added that he loved the sportsmanship of the game and that a match could be settled quickly, unlike in other sports.

He said he learned about the competition only two weeks ago and decided to sign up.

“I figured why not give it a shot,” he said. “I think it’s pretty exciting.”

He ended up taking the third-place prize in his category.

Several other people from the borough also took home prizes in a championship that drew competitors from as far away as Ukraine and Hungary.

Patrick Baffa, of Whitestone, and Jason Vale, of Queens Village, took home second place prizes in right-handed pro divisions.

The top three prize-winners in the 199-pound, left-hand pro division were also all from Queens. Mike Selearis, of Elmhurst, took first place; James Sismanglou, of Astoria, took second; and Chris Tsintavis, of Bayside, took third.

Selearis also won the Left Hand Overall MVP Award for the best left-handed competitor across all divisions.

In a particularly heated moment, he also decided to take on the NYC King of Arms Right Hand MVP winner, Mike Ayello, of Deer Park, L.I.

“We’ve got a tense match here,” the emcee said, as Selearis and Ayello were having difficulty wrenching their hands into position and Selearis continued to move his elbow off the table.

Eventually, Selearis forced Ayello’s hands onto the table, then pumped his fist in supposed victory.

“Yeah!” he yelled.

But the refs ultimately determined that his elbow was off the table and Ayello kept the right-handed overall title.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 1:00 am, May 3, 2013
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Reader feedback

Andrew from Flushing says:
Great Photos and write-up
May 3, 2013, 10:03 pm
Andrew from Flushing says:
Great Photos and write-up
May 3, 2013, 10:03 pm

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