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An Interview with Rob Bigwood - the World’s most successful

Vegan Arm-Wrestler
Pete Ryan ISSA CFT SPN Dip

Pete: Hi Rob, thanks for taking the Eventually, I began to gain energy and Pete: You recently came second (both
time to answer a few questions for all consistently lost weight. I have never left- and right-handed) at the 2009
the interested readers out there. I felt better in my entire life and it was “Big Apple Grapple”. This probably
thought we’d start with some basic one of the smartest decisions I ever makes you the top vegan arm-wrestler
questions. What made you go vegan made. in the world at this time. How did you
in the first place? prepare for the contest, and is there
Pete: Most people will have tried anything special about being a vegan
Rob: I first considered a vegetarian arm-wrestling at some point, but most athlete that a meat-eater wouldn’t
diet after an arm-wrestling tournament of us think of it as something to do in need to concern themselves with when
back in 2002. After competing, some a bar after a few pints, not really an prepping for a competition?
friends and I walked around the athletic pursuit. How did you get
Pennsylvania State Fair and a group of involved in the sport of arm-wrestling? Rob: I am probably the only vegan
piglets caught my attention. It was arm-wrestler in the world!
cute watching them play around and Rob: I was always strong at arm-
feed from their mom, it reminded me wrestling, getting the genetics from Prior to the Big Apple Grapple, I had
of little puppies. I got sick to my my mom. She could beat most men, been inactive for over two years and
stomach knowing that I had a bacon including my dad, and even competed needed some motivation to start
and egg sandwich for breakfast that in a tournament before I was born. pulling again. Even though placing
same morning. I never thought of In High School, I met a guy that second in both arms, I was pretty rusty
meat in the same way again. competed professionally and he talked considering I trained for only three
me into giving it a shot. My first months. As far as preparation, I made
Pete: Being a strength athlete, was tournament was in North Carolina sure to eat right, train hard, and get
there any concerns that you might lose back in 2000. I ended up taking fifth enough rest. I don’t think that is any
strength when you first changed your place and have been addicted ever different than what the meat-eaters do.
diet, and what did you find when you since.
did make the change? Pete: How were you received as a
Pete: What sort of training do you vegan at an arm-wrestling contest:
Rob: I was concerned at first but need to do to enter your sport? were the other athletes interested,
didn’t care. I made a conscious and dismissive, curious? Also, the fans:
ethical decision to give up meat, and Rob: The best way to train for this how did they react to a vegan whipping
was willing to face the consequences. sport is to get on a table and arm so many of the meat-eating competitors;
It is more important to practise what I wrestle. It’s hard to simulate and hit did it make an impression?
believe in than to worry about being a the right angles at the gym, almost
strength athlete. impossible. Try to find some pullers in Rob: Most of the arm-wrestlers were
your area and see if you can practise shocked to see how strong I was after
My body did not feel right with them. Some useful websites are being out of the scene for two years.
at the beginning, and and Most have known me prior to going
it took a couple of vegan and respect my decision. I had
weeks to one spectator tell me that her son was
adjust my new biggest fan. She had
without the unsuccessfully tried to get him to go
meat. vegetarian and after watching me
compete he now wants to try.

Pete: What are your goals in terms of


Rob: My ultimate goal is to

be the U.S. National
Champion and then World
Champion. But more
importantly I want to
prove to people that
strength athletes do
not need meat or
animal products to be
powerful – all you
need are veggies!

12 The Vegan l Winter 2009

Pete: As well as being an athlete and the arm-wrestler. This sport is a precise and suffering these animals go through
highlighting veganism through your combination of technique, speed and before eventually ending up as the
strength, you are also active with entire body strength. Also, if you don’t meat in your sandwich. Being vegan
several animal rights groups. Do you have a strong hand and wrist then you also means being green, it is the
think that strong guys like yourself won’t be successful. absolute best thing for our
appearing on the vegan scene are environment!
starting to smash the stereotypical Pete: Would you suggest that other
image of the pasty, wimp of a (male) vegans get involved in the sport of Pete: If people want to get hold of
vegan, and do you think that this might arm-wrestling, and if so how should you online have you got a website or
be a good way to get more guys they begin to get involved? blog where people can follow you as
involved in the vegan movement (by you continue on your quest for arm-
highlighting more male vegans with Rob: I think other vegans and wrestling dominance?
strength and power)? vegetarians should give it a try – who
doesn’t like to arm wrestle? It’s the
Rob: I am pasty but definitely not biggest underground sport that is
wimpy! Most people are shocked about to explode on the scenes. There
when they find out I am vegan and is a great new documentary called
don’t understand how I am strong Pulling John that will bring our sport to
without meat, milk, eggs, etc. I have the next level, like Pumping Iron did for
been doing the best I can with educating, bodybuilding. For more information about training on
inspiring, and breaking the typical a vegan diet go to
stereotypes. Pete: If you had a sentence or two to or
convince someone to try out a vegan
Pete: You look like you’ve got massive diet, what would you say to them?
arms; just how big are your guns? Since this interview Rob Bigwood just
Rob: If not for the awesome health won the 2009 South Jersey Fitness
Rob: Ha ha. I actually haven’t measured benefits, then at least make an effort Expo in Atlantic City, NJ with the left
my arms in years, I’m not that kind of for the animals. If being a vegan seems arm & came 3rd using the right (he
guy. I hardly train for size, rather for impossible then cut back on meat a wasn’t pinned with the right, his elbow
strength. It’s a huge misconception few days a week; every effort counts. slipped off the pad, so it’s an automatic
that the bigger the biceps the stronger People don’t realise the harsh cruelty loose).

The Vegan l Winter 2009 13

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