Lex Fridman Podcast - #265 - Devon Larratt: Arm Wrestling

I get so passionate about it.

I get so angry, you know?

Because there’s a saying like,

oh, can you beat him in a hook?

Can you beat, man?

Win, win, that’s it.

Just win and don’t talk to me about anything else.

You believe the match is finished.

And I wonder if that gets in the head of the other person.

See this?



The following is a conversation with Devon Larratt,

considered by many to be one of the greatest

arm wrestlers in history.

This is the Lex Friedman podcast.

To support it, please check out our sponsors

in the description.

And now, dear friends, here’s Devon Larratt.

You are considered to be one of the greatest

arm wrestlers in history,

plus are one of the most charismatic

and fun people to watch in arm wrestling.

But let me first start with a ridiculous,

the controversial opinion.

I actually really enjoy Over the Top,

the movie with Sylvester Stallone,

where he’s a trucker.

It’s like a father son movie.

It’s, you know, like a bunch of sports

have the definitive movie.

Boxing has Rocky, maybe folk style.

Collegiate wrestling has Vision Quest.

What else is there?

Billiards has Color of Money.

This is the sort of movie for arm wrestling.

So what did Over the Top get right?

What did it get wrong about arm wrestling?

That was actually based off of a real story.

A lot of people don’t know that.

Yeah, the Over the Top movie,

I mean, to a certain degree,

that’s actually real life.

Like that tournament, Over the Top, was real.


It was literally named Over the Top.

Yes, yes.

There was a trucker division,

and the guy actually won a truck for real.

His name’s John Brzenk.

You know who that is, right?

So the actual Over the Top tournament,

the trucker division, was won by John.

Who is John Brzenk?

He is, a lot of people talk about him as like a legend

and one of, if not the greatest,

arm wrestlers of all time.

John Brzenk is every arm wrestler’s father

to a certain degree, all of us.

The entire sport looks up to him.

It’s incredible what he’s done.

I mean, at 18, he won Over the Top.

At 57, he just competed with me a couple months ago.

Still at the world level.

18, that’s 40 years of being at the top of the sport.

It’s incredible.

He’s hailed as the greatest of all time

in the sport of arm wrestling.


And he doesn’t, he’s beaten some monsters.

Oh yeah, yeah.

And he doesn’t.

I mean, when you talk about like the evolution of the sport,

he’s responsible for so much of it.

Like when you talk about, like a lot of times

when you go back like 20 years, 30 years,

a lot of us looked at arm wrestling, I think it’s,

I mean, as something you could kind of do.

And he’s the first guy who’s like,

if you want to get better at arm wrestling,

you got to arm wrestle.

And it seems so simple, but you know,

he answered so many questions that all of us had

about techniques in the sport, back in a pre video internet.

He’s been everybody’s target for like 40 years.

So in terms of strength, there’s a power in terms of skill.

What did he teach the sport of arm wrestling?

So if you look, how did the sport change

from 80s, 90s to the aughts?

You were at the top of the world for many years.

Many argue you’re still at the very top of the world.

But like you were very dominant, both left and right hand

in, I don’t know, 2008 to 2013, something like that.

So how did that sport evolve to today?

So it’s hard for me to comment, you know, prior to,

you know, when I came to the sport was kind of mid nineties.

Like I’ve been arm wrestling my whole life,

but I wasn’t really involved in the sport to a major degree

until probably, you know, mid nineties.

But I’ll say that before the mid nineties,

it was really hard to get good at arm wrestling.

Very difficult.

Everybody was doing it wrong, really.

Like it was really rare to find people

who were technically good arm wrestlers.

It was very underground.

You know, when I got into sport,

it was a flyer that came in the mail.

You had to know somebody who knew you.

You had to know somebody who knew somebody

who knew somebody, and then you go to a club

and you can’t do anything with these people.

And they knew how to arm wrestle.

They did, but real masters were rare.

And you know, then internet helped everybody.

Communication, the transfer of knowledge

became so much faster.

People became technically, you know, invested.

People started to train, sharing ideas.

By, I’d say, 2000 and,

well, probably around the turn of the millennia,

I’d say that professional leagues started to slowly pick up.

More organized, bigger productions.

Started to attract more athletes.

More people took it seriously.

By 2010, I’d say there was another jump.

More serious leagues, a little bit more money.

By 2015, more major media.

Like, people were investing a lot of money.

Like, you know, millionaires, billionaires type of people

were organizing events, setting up leagues.

And yeah, I mean, the past five years,

it’s just blown up.

The techniques, I mean, if I was to go back

to when I started, you know, what took me

10 or 15 years to learn?

I mean, new guys are showing up

and they’ve got it down in like a year.

Yeah. Yeah.

Well, the thing about it, the development of the sport,

is it’s, like I was telling you off mic,

it’s a battle of one versus one.

And then that can turn into battle of nations,

which, you know, there is.

There’s Canada, there’s the United States,

there’s all the Eastern Europe, Russia, Georgia,

all of that.

That’s what makes some of the greatest sports

in Olympics great, like weightlifting.

It’s a battle of nations, not just a battle of individuals.

And it’s almost like these two humans

represent the two nations.

And I see that very much,

we’ll talk about your matches coming up,

but there is that battle between North America

and that other part of the world.

Yeah, yeah, North America is very prized.

You know, the North American champion

is always highly sought after

because they’re typically the most famous.

Even still when, you know, quite arguably,

there’s always somebody in Eastern Europe

who’s just monstrous.

It’s typically the North American athlete

who’s more recognized.

By the way. Oh, yeah.

We’ll have a cup here with some maple syrup.

Cheers, Lex. Cheers.

We should probably show,

you just downed that whole thing.

No, no, no, I’m gonna sip it.

I’m gonna sip it, you know?

But by all means.

It’s really good, right? That is delicious.

Yeah. Yeah.

That is. Canadian maple syrup.


That’s a perfect July day from Canada in a bottle, yeah.

So you’re on a total tangent.

You are known for appreciating food

in all kinds of ways,

but one of the things you’re known for is pancakes.

That is, yeah, that’s gone to a crazy place in the sport,

but yeah, like.

Where did that originate?

So, where that originated.

When it went from like your actual love for pancakes

to the meme.

Yeah, so I think what happened was.

So I had a match with Michael Todd, big match.

Michael, great champion.

He’s another guy who’s, you know,

he’s never gonna get off the horse.

You know, he’s, Jesus.

His elbow is a complete disaster.

Probably one of the most loved and hated guys

in the sport right now.

Is it because of the King’s move?


Yeah, the King’s move brings him a lot of hate.

Not from me, not from a lot of people,

but a lot of observers have a big problem

with the King’s move.

What’s wrong with being a little bit controversial?

That’s fun.

You know, I get so passionate about it.

I get so angry, you know?

Because there’s this saying like,

oh, can you beat him in a hook?

Can you beat, man?

Win, win.

That’s all that matters.

Just win and don’t talk to me about anything else.

If you can win with style, win with style,

but don’t talk to me about anything but winning.

That’s the priority.

So you had this match with Michael Todd.


So I was in a terrible place.

I guess it was, I get so screwed up with the years.

It’s 2022 now, right?

No, it’s 2030.

What are you talking about?

That’s right.

I think it is actually 2030.

We’re way ahead of schedule.


Oh, man.

That’s right.

So when was this?

This was like a decade ago or no?

No, this is like a year and a bit ago.

Oh, this is very recent.

Very recent, yeah.

So I got really sick.

Is that the match?

Yeah, this is the match, right?

Awesome match.

So this match is for the Legacy Hammer.

So we invented this thing called the Legacy Hammer

and Michael took it from me in, I think, 2018.

And then COVID shut everything down

and Michael went overseas to try and set up,

because at that time, Michael was a North American champion.

He beat me and he went to Dubai

and he organized this great big match with LeVon.

And the whole thing fell apart.

Organizers, leagues, wouldn’t let it happen,

but there was still an ability

to have a match of significance happen.

So Michael’s like, who do you want?

And I’m like, let’s give Devin a rematch.

And I’m like, yeah, yes.

And I was really sick at the time.

I had DVT, I had pulmonary embolism.

I was mentally in a terrible place

and I got offered the match

and I just totally turned my life around.

And I committed really hard.

What happened in this match, by the way?

Oh, I just totally destroyed him.

I just beat the piss out of him.

Michael’s a good friend of mine, but.

Yeah, there’s a lot of camaraderie

when you guys talked afterwards, it’s great.

But we fight like brothers,

so we let each other really fight hard against each other.

But so I was, I knew, I mean,

strength and mass, they go hand in hand.

And I committed to just getting as big

and as strong as I could.

And literally, I was eating pancakes every day.

Bacon, pancakes, every sloppy bit

of garbage food I could eat.

I was trying to eat healthy also,

but if there was garbage food, I’d eat it.

What do you mean, bacon and pancakes isn’t healthy?

What are you talking about?


But people should go watch, there’s a video

where you make the Canadian meal of bacon

with some bacon cooking tips, water, that was interesting.

And then obviously pancakes and maple syrup

all over the whole thing.

Yeah, you’re making me very hungry.

I’ve caused more diabetes than,

probably gonna get in trouble karmically

for making the world obese.

You should probably write a book, The Pancake Diet.

Yeah, I think I will do that one day.

So you said mass and strength go hand in hand,

just at a big level about arm wrestling,

what’s more important?

Strength, power, endurance, skills, strategy,

or mental toughness, how do these components

all come into play in arm wrestling?

They’re all important.

You can use everything and you can adjust your strategy

based off of the tools that you have.

I would say if I could pick ever just one thing

to have more of, I would say that it would be strength.

Gained while fighting.

While actually arm wrestling, so not off the table.

No, no, no, so you get stronger from arm wrestling.

How do you get stronger from arm wrestling?

In jiu jitsu and grappling, you can get good

by training with people much technically worse than you.

So with white belts and blue belts,

it’s actually beneficial because you get to work stuff out.

But I wouldn’t say it develops that intensity

and power required to go against people at your level.

So how do you balance that?

Is it okay to go against people

that are much weaker than you?

Or do you really have to go against people

at the same level?

I think that a blended strategy is probably the best.

I’d say kind of a rule is whatever you do,

you get better at, right?

So you wanna be kind of as precise as possible.

You don’t wanna get hurt.

And it’s just about investment.

And the answer’s not always the same.

Things are gonna change.

I am currently a big believer in what I call

tower building, right?

So you have to do a lot of volume to build a great tower.

You need to have a ton, a ton of volume.

So when you look at how to best build volume,

you want to do workouts that aren’t particularly challenging

to make you feel good and do them so that

when you add them all together, you get the biggest number.

So many easy workouts a day that are specific as possible,

in my opinion, is the best way to lay the foundation

for an extreme peak.

And precision, right?

Like there’s no more precise way to get strong

at arm wrestling than arm wrestle.

So how often can you arm wrestle?

What’s your training regimen?

You’ve talked about this as the climb.

What is the training process to get great at arm wrestling?

Well, again, it’s gonna depend on what level you’re at.

The answer at the beginning might not be the same.

For me, a guy who’s been doing it almost 30 years,

I have to harvest.

I have to harvest energy from clubs.

I call it cosmic punch.

Sorry to interrupt.

You were here in Austin, Texas.

You are in Austin, Texas, but you were at the,

what was it called?

The water tank.

And you had an awesome crowd.

It was great.

I get to watch.

I got to interact with a lot of those guys.

Yes, just amazing community, amazing human beings.

I got to talk to Dmitry in Russian and in English.

He’s an engineer.

His wife is an engineer.

He’s a brilliant dude, but also one of the toughest,

I guess, guys you faced there.

But you faced, I don’t know how many people.

It must’ve been hundreds of matches.

So the bar was full.

Yeah, and that for me is a perfect training scenario.


So if I go in and just kind of be,

I’m like a lightning rod,

and I just absorb everything that I can get from people,

all their effort, that’s perfect.

That’s perfect.

I’m lucky because I’m in a place that I can handle it.

If I was losing or failing, this would not be optimal.

But because I’m strong enough,

I’ve been doing it long enough that I can kind of absorb it

without damaging me, this is perfect.

This is perfect.

I typically, when I’m training up for a very serious match,

I’ll try and do that three or four times a week.

And then the days in between,

I will just do blood flow rehab, blood flow rehab.

I will never hit a PR, a record.

I’ll never do it anymore.

I don’t do it.

I used to.

A lot of things change, and that’s why I say

there’s a lot of ways to do it.

This is currently a system that’s working very well for me.

So when you say PR, you’re not aggressively chasing a peak.

You’re just building and building and building.


My only peak that I care about is for this cycle,

the 25th of June.

That’s my only PR.

Let’s talk about the 25th of June.

Oh, yeah.

Let’s talk about Levan Siginashvili, the Georgian Hulk.

Question number one, is it possible to beat him?

He is widely acknowledged as the most powerful person

in arm wrestling today.

Is he beatable?

And if so, how?

Everybody’s beatable.

Levan is incredible.

He is what this modern peak of arm wrestling represents.

So for people who are just listening,

we also have an overlay of a video

of Levan going against Vitaliy Levin,

another top three person in the world, perhaps,

in arm wrestling.

And Levan’s the guy on the right, just big.

I love it.

And the aggression, I mean, actually,

sort of underneath it all, he seems to be a teddy bear,

but when he turns it on, it’s raw power.

He’s the full package.

Levan is, he represents the pinnacle.

There’s Dennis in the background.

He’s like, I wanna be back in there.

Levan has a lot of bases covered.

He’s, I mean, he’s curling 300 pounds with one arm.

I mean, the strength that he shows for arm wrestling

is so far ahead of the field.

He’s very, very strong.

But it’s absolutely possible.

It’s absolutely possible.

The one thing that I’m confident about,

well, I’d say there’s two things.

The two things I’m confident about

is that I have more experience than he does.

And experience counts for a lot.

The other thing is my ability to breathe and recover.

So if ever there’s an opportunity for the tide to turn,

that’s, I think, where you’ll never get it back.

So I think if I can somehow find a hole in his game,

then, yeah.

So you want to hold off the initial assault of power

and then worm out and to find the hole.

And then, how much of that is mental?

How much of it is just the physical ability to do

for your muscles to have the endurance to hold off?

I like to make the sport bigger.

And a lot of things that most arm wrestlers

believe the sport is,

I always try and push those boundaries.

So there is definitely a mental aspect to it

when you’re faced with something

that you’ve never seen before.

That’s when things like experience comes in.

He can become surprised.

Where what’s a surprise for him is routine for me.

So my adjustments will be more precise, more accurate.

Yeah, that’s how I get in.

That’s how I get in.

Yeah, I play a dirty game.

You know?

So some of it, how important is confidence

in the progression of the match?

Is there ups and downs of confidence?

Like, holy shit, I actually have a chance to win this.

Holy shit, I’m winning this, you’re done.

There’s some of my favorite moments.

I don’t know if those are fake or not

in terms of your expressions,

if it’s fake until you make it.

But whenever you shake your head or whatever,

you make it apparent that you believe the match is finished.

And I wonder if that gets in the head of the other person.

When you start to actually,

so I’m sure you’re doing things,

like precise, detailed things with your hands

to also indicate that you believe they’re fake.

They’re finished.

But you’re facially just.

See this? Yeah.


Oh, that’s right, because it’s facing the other.

So that’s ultimately what the battle is about.

It’s like, you’re done.

You might as well give up.

Commitment is so important in anything that you do, right?

Like, I always kind of try and bring things

to a level of commitment that’s uncommon.

I think that that’s a lot of reasons why I do well,

is because I just get so committed in the whole process.

And by the time that I actually show up to fight,

I sometimes just wish that they would kill me.

I wish that they would,

because that’s how far I want to go.

People talk about like, how committed are you to the match?

If you’re committed to the match and you lose,

you should be hurt.

I’m often unhappy when I lose a match

and I don’t have an injury.

I’m like, damn, what the fuck?

I shoulda.

I feel like I didn’t commit, you know?

I don’t know if you know Dan Gable as the wrestler.

Oh yeah, he was on.

He was on the podcast? Yeah.

Yeah, yeah.

He talked about his whole career.

He dreamed of working so hard that he can’t get off the mat.

By himself.

And he’s disappointed ultimately at the end of his career

because he was always able to get off the mat

on his own accord.

So he wants to, yeah, leave it all on the mat

just from exhaustion.

So that’s what commitment looks like.

What is this process, what is this climb

for probably the toughest match of your career?

I would say the most epic match in arm wrestling history.

I mean, it’s really building up.

You are, as you said, North America.

That’s, I mean, I think by accounts of many

you’re one of the greatest arm wrestlers ever.

He is one of the scariest arm wrestlers ever.

And so this match, by the way, where’s it happening?

It’ll be in Dubai. In Dubai.

June, so what does the climb look like?

The climb for me, what I have to change in my life always,

people talk about being a professional.

I’ve always loved the sport.

I’ve loved it like crazy, but to me,

the path is about simplicity and removal of distractions.

I do better and better the more I get rid of everything,

nothing else, so that my life is just the goal,

just the target and everything else is off the table.

And that’s where I need to get to, where there’s nothing.

There’s nothing between me and him.

And every single day you’re putting in the volume.

Every day, all day.

Now you said you worked out.

So yesterday you did hundreds of arm wrestling matches.

And then today you said in the morning you still worked out.

So what was that workout?

So you’re mixing up stuff where you’re doing weights also?

This morning, I try to really focus

on what’s administratively easy.

That’s a big part of me, everything I do.

So I just travel with bands.

Yeah, I got bands with me and it’s rehabilitative in nature.

So I’m really focusing on blood flow,

feeling good, doing proper movements,

but yeah, it’s just a band workout in the hotel room.

What does a band workout look like?

So are you doing the arm wrestling movement?

Oh, you see that?

See what you did there?

What’s that?

Yeah, it’s you.

You want to bring him in.

Yeah, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up into your center.

You think what can you control out here?

No, you bring everything close.

That’s it.

Don’t worry about pinning.

Pinning happens once it’s close to you.

Pinning is, people always think about pinning.

Don’t think about pinning.

How much of the body is a part of this, too?

Like the core, the torso,

because it feels like there’s that almost like

Mike Tyson punch power, right?


Does it come from the hips, too, and the legs?

It’s definitely the whole body.

Like everything is working.

You’re connected to the table at times,

as far as your base.

Sometimes your base is your feet,

but a lot of times you can base off the table.

So you can base off your hips, but I’ll tell you,

no arm wrestler cares about doing squats.

No arm wrestler is doing planks.


It’s all about the forearm and the actions of the hand.

That’s always the limiting factor.

You look at a guy like Oleg Zakh.

Okay, do you know this guy?

Oleg Zakh.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.


He’s a total hell boy.

He’s my inspiration to what I call pumpkin training.


What’s pumpkin training?

Probably we’ll get into that,

but I only train my right arm.

That’s it.

Yeah, with homework.

But back to full body, it is full body.

My good friend Matt Mask, when he arm wrestled me,

he actually blew his internal abductor in his leg.

So yeah, people walk away from tournament.

Their calves can be sore sometimes.

You know, it happens.

But no, oh, there he is right there.


Oleg, he is a real life hell boy.

He’s like 170 pounds there.

Look at his arm.



Yeah, he’s totally crazy.

That’s you doing left right there.

So by the way, Levan, you’re going right.


So can you say more about the mental side?

Are you visualizing what it takes to beat him?

Are you trying to get in his head?

All of these things.

So do you think it’s possible to get in his head?

There’s definitely strategies that you can do

depending on who it is you’re facing.

It’s very good to know who it is you’re fighting

and choose the correct strategy mentally.

But I always follow a process

when it comes to my mental preparation.

When I’m far away from an event,

I just always build up my opponent,

build them, I build them, I respect them.

To a point where I almost start to fear them

and start to believe that they’ll beat me.

And this is a very vital part of my preparation.

And that’s where I am right now with Levan.

I just build them up into this thing that scares me.

And it forces me to be responsible,

because I don’t want to lose, I want to win.

So the greater my opponent,

the greater I can build their worth in my mind,

the more motivation it gives me.

Then there comes a point when it changes.

And then I start to degrade them.

And yeah, that’s when it normally starts to get fun.

And normally by the time I face them,

I just try and completely dominate

from every interaction from start to finish.

So, yeah.

When in the actual moment of the match,

like in the moments leading up to it,

what’s the feeling?

Is it fear, is it confidence, anxiety?

What’s going through your mind?

I love to fight, I love it, I always have.

There’s every day where you have the distractions of life,

and then there’s really living in the moment.

It’s whatever you love to do,

and that’s when you can really be free.

I’m free when I’m fighting.

So you put me in a good fight, and I just love it.

And I don’t think about the past,

I don’t think about the future,

I just think about killing that dude in front of me,

and I enjoy that.

And just being intensely in the moment.

That’s it.

Just right there, just fighting as hard as I can.

Do you study the opponent?

Have you, for this particular match,

do you study videos of LeVon?

I’ve seen everything.

I’ve read everything.

I get opinions from other people.

I watch very closely, yeah.

What do you make of his evolution?

So he’s grown in size,

but also you’ve talked about his

evolution technically as well.

Then studying him.

Since we’re in the build your opponent

to be terrifying stage, what makes him great?

He’s very impressive.

The greatest thing about him is his strength.

That’s the thing that sets him apart from everyone.

His strength, specialized strength.

Exact strength for arm wrestling.

I believe it’s unmatched.

Can we just linger on that word strength?

What does strength mean?

What does it feel like?

Are we talking about bicep, shoulder?

Are we talking about whatever controls the wrist?

Is it the, how does strength manifest?

When I touch your hand, when we grab arms,

I feel like fuck, that’s strong.

There’s control, right?

What is that feeling?

Where does that come from in arm wrestling?

When you’re at the top of the world,

where does that come from?

So it’s chains.

There’s chains of strength.

And in arm wrestling, this is like technical strength.

And we use these technical chains to fight each other.

The chains that I’ll talk about is,

so you’ll talk, remember how we talked about the post,

this upwards drive, this ability to close this angle?

This is a chain.

It can be used, it’s a technical attack.

It’s also an attack that can be built with training.

Just the ability to just drive upwards.

There’s a chain where you cup, right?

Cup your wrist in.

Cup your wrist in and the anchor and the chain

brings you right to your heart, right to your center.

This chain, and this can be done at any time.

There’s a pronation chain,

and that’s to turn your thumb over, right?

Turn your thumb over and you attack

the person’s cupping chain.

And there’s a huge number of muscles

involved in each of those chains.

And that’s why I say it’s a chain, right?

But they’re movements, and these movements

you can develop in the gym or through practice.

So you don’t mean, so it’s easy to sort of

interpret strength to mean how much you curl, essentially.


But you mean the chain.

It’s all has to do with the.

Right, and that’s, I mean, people talk is it a bicep?

I mean, yes, there’s bicep for sure involved,

but I’ll always be inaccurate if I try and tell you

what muscles are the, so I prefer to explain it

in a movement and then everything that’s involved

to do that movement, right?

Yeah, and Levan’s movements for arm wrestling

are incredibly impressive.

What do you attribute to, how much of that is genetics?

How much of it is some training thing he’s doing?

I think that Levan is very special in terms

of his genetics, like not everybody can be Levan.

You know?


There’s not many Levans out there.

But what I’ve encountered in the bias that I always see,

like when people talk about people like Levan,

they discount the other side so very quickly.

And the thing is Levan rarely has to show the other side

because he’s so far ahead.

You talk about the technical application of the sport,

he so rarely needs to show it, but he’s clearly incredible.

If you watch his progression, he came up

having very difficult technical struggles to overcome.

Georgia is a great country for arm wrestling.

Like there’s this guy, Gennady Kvikvinia,

who no one would ever say is not technical.

And you know, it took him years to defeat him

to a point where now it’s not even a discussion.

Yeah, you talk about the progression,

they had a lot of battles together over the years.


It’s fascinating to see the tides turn.

Oh yeah, and once they’ve turned,

it’s like completely, completely different level.

Yeah, I mean, he’s got strength, he’s got technique.

Some people will argue that his technique is flawed.

At times, they’ve shown matches where

he hasn’t shown the best technique, but he’s still won.

And I think sometimes he just plays with people.

You know, like there’s a famous match that he had with,

they call him the Bruce Lee of arm wrestling,

a guy called Angurbaev, Kurtagali Angurbaev.

He’s, they had a match in the top eight, great match.

Kurtagali is like 220 pound guy from Kazakhstan,

brilliant technician, but power wise,

you know, not in the same world.

And Kurtagali did well, even though he lost six nothing,

he still did well, but in my opinion, Levan didn’t care.

Levan was like grabbing him low and just like, whatever.

Like, I will show him things that he’s not seen before.

I will.

And he hasn’t competed often in this rule set,

which will be a challenge for him.

But yeah, what can I say?

Like Levan, he’s Everest.

Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah, you are seen by basically everybody

as the big, big underdog.

But you’re also, even in the Eastern,

even, I mean, I talk to Russians a lot.

You know that moment in Rocky

when they start cheering for Rocky?

Yeah, yeah.

You’re kind of the, they love you, they want you to win.

And just, you know, it’s not even,

just the battle itself is inspiring.

And it’s like the culmination in your career

because it’s, you know, you’re at the top for a long time,

but it’s like, it’s almost like it should be over for you,

but no, you’re returning.

It is like this big moment.


The big climb.

I will be the pointy end of the spear for North America.


Ah, beautiful.

Well, let’s, thanks for bringing that match up.

Let’s talk about just the match against Dennis,

your left hand match.


He’s also terrifying and seen as one of the strongest,

probably one of, if not the strongest

left hand arm wrestler.


There’s a lot to be said there.

Maybe you could talk about this match at a high level.

Why did you take on this match?

Why did you do the left hand versus the right hand?

What, can you tell the story?

Okay, Dennis the Plankoff.

There’s so much about this match.

I love Dennis.

Russian guy.

Yeah, Russian guy.

Russian, I used to call him Dennis Chernobyl.

Ah, what a monster.

He kind of led, I’d say, this new era of arm wrestling,

where the super heavyweight strength level

has just gone through the roof.

I wanted the match for such a long time.

We tried to get the match.

We couldn’t get it organized.

This is back in like 2008 to 2012.

Couldn’t get the match, couldn’t get the match.

I’ve always been more of a one on one puller.

He was doing the tournament format.

I was ranked number one in the world,

and towards the end, it kind of was very undecided.

I ended up getting surgery.

I ended up abandoning the super heavyweight division.

I went down to the 225s for a few years.

WAL failed, temporarily.

So the 225 pound division was scrapped.

And I said, okay, I’m going to go for the big crown once again.

And I started to go after super heavyweights.

The 2018 season was right hand.

I started to enter negotiations to have the match with him.

We’d been chasing the match for 10 years.

They wanted to do a left hand.

I wanted to do a right hand.

I just wanted to do the match.

I wanted to do the match with Dennis.

I wanted to meet Dennis.

So people should know that you were,

the right hand has always been your strongest.

It has been, I mean, I had surgery in 2016.

I hate to make excuses.

I hate to do it.

Dennis was better than me that day, even on my best day.

If you had gone back my entire career,

at no single day do I beat Dennis De Plankhoff in 2018.

I would like to think that I could maybe do it now.

But at that point, there would have been no version

that could have beat him.

Left or right?

Right hand?

No, I’m curious about the right, but left hand.

So is the world.

Well, it might still happen.

It might.

But Dennis completely destroyed me.

And I learned a lot from it.

I think before the Dennis match, I think I was, I don’t know.

I don’t know exactly what words to use.

Maybe I felt like my thinking was a little bit elitist.

And I really learned a lot.

I was really humbled that day by how far, and how professional,

and how prepared Dennis was, and how seriously he

took the sport.

There’s a mental, a slightly terrifying calmness

to him, which only comes with extreme preparation, I think.


His level of dedication was extremely inspiring to me.

I used to do a job where it was serious enough

that the price could be death.

And I arm wrestled throughout that entire period.

And I always kind of looked at the cost of doing an activity,

being death, limited to soldiering.

And I kind of changed my mind a lot after that match.

I realized that anything that you’re in love with,

once you get far enough down the road,

and professional enough at it, it’s going to kill you.

Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re crazy enough

about anything, it’s probably going to take your life

from you in some way.

And that doesn’t mean you rush towards death.

It’s just your level of investment and level of risk

can have some catastrophic effects.

Bukowski, Charles Bukowski, I think

has the quote, do what you love and let it kill you.


Like that.


And I understood that Dennis’s level of professionalism

far exceeded mine in what we were doing at the time.

And I realized that I was no longer employed.

I was now in the world of professional arm wrestling.

And I realized that what was I doing?

How serious was I?

So Dennis is an incredible guy.

Is there moments in that match, there’s

humility there, too, from him.

That was a fascinating sort of, it

seemed like you realized that you just hit a wall

and you were not ready enough for it.

It was incredible.

There was so many things that I remember about the Dennis


I mean, I remember seeing videos of somebody

and then meeting them in person, it’s different.

I remember in the weigh ins, sorry, not the weigh ins,

the standoff that we did before the match.

I’m looking at him, I’m close.

I’m looking at his arms.

And his bicep, it looked like an ass.

It was like a freaking glute muscle.

Like his entire structure was so sinewy and just so strong.

I was like, wow, he’s physically so impressive.

And I remember when I arm wrestled him at a certain time,

he allowed me to kind of set my position.

You can’t really tell because it happens very quickly.

But he let me set my position, which

means I kind of got my locks in, where you can kind of really

do a great hold.

And he just ripped through me.

So you were able to get this great position.

So it was tore right through me.

And the first time I ever thought

that I had torn something.

I thought, after the match, I’m like,

geez, did he rip my chest right in half?

What, did it?

No, I think it was 100%.

Yeah, no, I didn’t actually.

Nothing went purple or anything.

But yeah, the strength gap was very significant with Dennis.

Could he, what would it take to beat him on that day?

It would take me just being a little bit stronger and more

healthy, yeah.

My left was not as healthy as it should be.

I didn’t have a full rounded technical arsenal.

It takes a time after surgery.

It really does.

You can be good, but after a surgery, like what I had,

you’re probably looking at three or four years

before you’re starting to hit technical proficiency

the way you should be.

And yeah, just a bit stronger.

How do you interpret the calmness on his face?

Well, what is that about?

Is he actually that calm or is he just trained?

It’s a Russian thing, I think.

I don’t know.

I see a lot of Russians like that.

They’re so stoic.

And I’m such a fan of Russia.

I really want to go to Moscow.

I’ve been saying it forever.

You’ve never been?

Not yet.

I want to go.

I want to just go and live there for a month and just train.

Moscow has got such a crazy arm wrestling scene.

From what I understand, they just have so many clubs.

There’s so many strong athletes.

Just go and just lightning rod.


Have you considered doing something of that sort?

It’s like Rocky IV again.

Oh, yeah.

And lead up to June.

I would certainly consider it.

I’ve got only one trip planned at the moment.

Administration is very important.

What do you mean by administration?

Like managing your time?


Yeah, the management has to be very efficient.

When I’m a tourist, when I’m a visitor,

a little bit of that goes down.

When I’m at my home and things are familiar,

I’ve got a really great grasp on my time.

Everything’s in place.

Everything’s perfect.

If I could magically transport Moscow into my hometown

and just go out and visit them, yeah.

So it’s very difficult when you’re traveling.

You have to figure out what you’re eating,

how are you getting the food, all the socializing.

Plus, you’re more and more a celebrity,

so there’s a social interaction, which

I don’t know how draining that could be on you

outside of the arm wrestling table.

So you have to manage all of that,

because ultimately, you have to focus on the fight ahead.


Yeah, a lot of my strength comes from just

being in a familiar place, doing my routine.

I love to travel.

I love to get out there and meet people and new experiences.

But when I just want to really prepare for a big match,

yeah, home is where I get strong.

So that loss against Dennis was one

of the few losses in your career.

How did that feel in the moments after, in the days after,

in the months after, in the years after?

How has it changed you as an arm wrestler as a human being?

Well, it’s tough to lose.

Still haunt you?

I don’t think so.

I actually was really happy to lose to Dennis,

because sometimes when you lose a match,

there’s a lot of matches that I’ve lost where they upset me,

because I know I made a mistake.

I didn’t make a mistake with Dennis.

He was just way better.

There’s nothing I could have done that day.

I’m really at peace with it.

Dennis, to me, was just a big inspiration.

I think that me arm wrestling Dennis left handed that day

just let me touch probably one of the strongest

human beings on the arm wrestling table

that’s ever lived, left handed.

So knowing that’s possible is almost like inspiration to you

that I can be at that level, too.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Seeing what Dennis did, just trying

to absorb a little bit of his knowledge planted seeds in me.

When I look at my career, it’s a bit like the stock market.

But for sure, I’m trending upwards.

And since really kind of wrapping my mind

around some of the Russian philosophies,

they really changed my training systems.

There were some base philosophies

that they talked to me about over there

that massively impacted my training.

Is it possible to convert some of those philosophies

into words?

Can you describe some of the ideas they taught you?

Never smile.


Man, it takes a while to break the ice

with a lot of these guys.

Well, once you do, that’s the deepest bonds you can form.

Yeah, yeah, for sure.

I think that I was raised under, I believe it’s a flawed.

I mean, it’s not flawed, because it has its value as well.

But it’s best if you understand both philosophies.

I think a North American thing that’s

just so ingrained in our fitness society is no pain, no gain.

And just pushing, and sweating, and going harder,

and fighting through, and grit, and tough.

And then you talk to the Russians,

and they’re like, yeah, never fail.

You never fail.

Never go to failure.

Always feel good.

It should always feel good.

And those two philosophies express themselves

very differently.

And if you want to get strong, yeah, don’t fail.

Don’t fail.

So they also are believers of volume.

Yeah, there’s a lot of strategies,

but volume is a massive principle.

And volume is very hard to achieve

when you’re believing in no pain, no gain.

They don’t really go together.

No pain, no gain, more injuries.

So is there parallels?

Because in wrestling, some of the greatest wrestlers

of all time are Russian.

And they were big, Dan Gable talks about it,

they were big on play.

Like, lighter wrestling is probably,

ultimately, actually, it boils down to

that’s how you achieve higher volume.

Like, over the stretch of years,

the way to reduce injury.

I mean, in wrestling also, technique

might have greater value than it does in arm wrestling.

Obviously, technique is extremely important

in arm wrestling.

But power can defeat technique, it seems like.

In wrestling, you can get away.

There’s a lot of ways you can really do sneak attacks,

sort of use leverage on those kinds of things.

So there’s even more incentive to do play

and all that kind of stuff.

But do you see the parallels between the two worlds,

wrestling and arm wrestling?


Well, you saw what I did the other night, right?

So I’m playing on the table for hours, right?

So that’s my number one training thing that I do,

is I go on the table for hours and I play.


Yeah, when you did, Sergey, can you pull up that video?

It’s on Devin’s channel, the water tank one.

Oh, it’s like 180p.

It’s like, the wifi in there was so bad.


It’s great, I love it.

It’s, maybe, I don’t know if it was fish eye,

but it had a fish eye feel, it was crowded.

I mean, so much camaraderie, it was amazing.

But maybe just a brief mention of Dimitri,

the Russian guy.

What, in that play, what are some memorable things here?

Like, when you go against a bunch of different people,

a bunch of strangers, what are all the differences

and how do you grow from them, how do you learn from them?

Well, everybody’s a bit different.

So, I love to go to new clubs,

because the energy’s always high.

Like, the first time you go to a club,

everybody’s trying to kill you.


Yeah, so they’re gonna.

There’s excitement and there’s this,

and so you feed off of that.

Yeah, you do, you can, if you’re able to be strong enough

to absorb it without injury, it’s awesome, it’s awesome.

Because they’re giving you everything they can.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Right, so it’s very specific, right?

Like, I’m gonna get way stronger at arm wrestling.

And what I try and do, when I go to these places,

is I make an assumption, I make an assumption

that I’m the best guy there.

And so, I’ll arm wrestle in a way that kind of protects them,

because the more I can protect them

and kind of keep them kind of in a good position,

they can actually give me more, right?

So, I kind of give them little pieces

that I think will put them in a place

that they can really give me more.

And so, yeah, that’s what I’m doing.

And then, when I see somebody like Dimitri,

I pull that in a little bit, right?

So, okay, so I know Dimitri’s the number one guy in Texas.

Lots of respect to the guy.

I won’t give him all the pieces

until I really kind of gauge where he’s at,

because I certainly, in training, don’t wanna fail.

I don’t want that, I don’t want to.

When you fail in arm wrestling,

imagine it’s just bad technique.

And you’re trying, and bad technique,

you’re gonna get hurt, yeah.

So, you always want to be in a strong position here.

What about, how does endurance come into play here?

And here’s video of you strapping up with Dimitri.

How do you, I mean, you went for like, I don’t know,

two hours?

Yeah, it was long.

So, this first run of the video, I think,

was a little over an hour, and then I took a break,

and I probably did another 45 minutes or so, but.

I mean, do you, how can, are you okay

with the endurance aspect of this?

Yeah, that’s probably, like, when you talk

to the arm wrestling world, that’s probably

what I’m best known for, is my endurance.

So, this helps build that.

It does, but that’s not why I’m doing it.

I’m doing it to get strong.

In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to get strong,

especially far away from a tournament,

or any kind of an event.

I wouldn’t wanna do this, you know, even a month,

or even six weeks, or even, maybe even eight weeks

before a big event.

I’d want to already be kind of shrinking my volume,

but far away from an event, yeah, as much volume

as your body can handle, and you’ll feel it.

You’ll feel it.

Like, I felt it at times, like, you know,

after the hour mark, I’m like, okay,

I can feel my blood sugar kind of diminishing.

I can feel, like, the blood that’s going to my muscles

is kinda like, it’s not really pushing more good stuff in.

It’s, I’m starting to break down, and you don’t want that.

You don’t want that.

Quick pause.

Bathroom break?

I’m good, I’m good.

I kinda need one.

I’ll maybe get a sweater, it’s a bit.

Is it cold?

Does that matter?

Does that care for kind of continuity?

No, no, no, no.

I can make it warmer.

No, no, no, I’ll just put a sweater on,

it’s fine, but that doesn’t matter.

And I still love the idea of you going to Russia.


And training there.


I’m also making a trip out to Russia.

Oh yeah, when?

For different reasons.

Well, it’s hard with the current conflict,

the tensions there, but I’m hoping before your match,

actually, so May, for a couple of interviews

with a couple of folks, some of which people know.

Maybe I could ask you about,

to comment on some matches that stand out to you

in your career.


Is there something, is there a particular,

I have a bunch that I really enjoy,

but is there something that stands out to you as memorable?

We talked about sort of a defining loss, perhaps,

to Dennis.

Then you faced Michael Todd, like you mentioned,

John Brzenk, you faced Matt.

Is there something that stands out to you

that technically or psychologically

you’ve learned a lot from?

I feel like I try and learn something from every match,

but there is a very special match to me

that to this day, I can’t explain.

Very weird phenomenon.

So, I think it was 2005 was my first combat tour overseas.

So, it was a active tour.

Among other things, I got shot during that tour,

we got blown, long tour, rough tour.

And I trained the whole time through

knowing that at the end of this,

I was gonna have a big match.

So, there’s a champion, a guy called Ron Bath.

He’s kind of, if there was no John Brzenk,

there would be Ron Bath.

Okay, so, extremely decorated,

unbelievable arm wrestler from the United States.

And this is kind of when I was just

kind of coming up in the sport still.

I was fairly well established,

I was definitely the best guy in Canada.

And I had been for a few years,

but I hadn’t really expanded internationally too much.

So, I had a one on one match with Ron Bath

and that’s the one.

Yeah, extremely hard fought battle.

Was three one, I think, three one,

but every match was really close

and he won the first one.

And I had to kind of dig my way out of the trenches

and ended up coming back and winning.

But it was a match that was probably,

it was probably one of my closest matches ever.

And it was.

It seems like there’s frustration on you.

What is that?

What was going through your mind here with these?

Was it, first of all, going in,

did you think you could beat him?

What was the level of confidence?

I always think I can win, like I always do.

But, you know, a lot of respect to the guy.

But yeah, I mean, I always think I can do it.

So how did, what lessons did you take away from it?

Why is it so meaningful to you?

Well, it’s what happened afterwards.

So, I had some kind of a release afterwards.

And that was the strange thing to me.

So, match ended and I felt like,

so relaxed afterwards, so calm, so, so, you know, satisfied.

Because it was one of those matches

that kind of takes everything from you, but you win it.

And I was relaxing in the chair

and I’ve never had this sensation before.

I’ve never had it afterwards,

but it’s like the center of my backbone just exploded.

And it was like, it’s so weird, right?

Cause I’m not really spiritual that much or religious even,

but it’s like a fire just ripped through me

and it only lasted an instant.

Just exploded through my whole body,

out the top, through my feet.

And then it was gone, that was it.

Weirdest thing I’ve ever felt in my entire life.

Yeah, but it was as a result of,

yeah, but it was as a result of what happened in the match

and leading up to it, I had some kind of a release.

To what it does, it almost,

how did you interpret it psychologically?

Was it like some kind of, I mean,

not to be spiritual or whatever,

but some kind of superpower that was like,

like a lingering feeling like, holy shit, I, you know.

I can’t, I can’t explain it.

And I haven’t really tried hard enough to try to.

But something changed.

Something happened there, yeah.

Something happened to me.

I was sore for about three or four months afterwards.

It’s like it smoked out my entire body.

Yeah, that whole summer I was kind of sore.

And yeah, and then after that,

like two or three years later,

that’s when I won the world championships.

Yeah, I mean, all the matches are,

you know, you get something from people, like, you know,

you study them, you take something from them.

People have an invisible crown and he had one.

And I think I took it from him.


Maybe that was the feeling of wearing the crown.

Yeah, maybe.

What about all the trash talk?

How much of that did you learn?

Does that come naturally to you?

You’re one of the most charismatic, fun.

I mean, there’s always like respect behind it.

I would say to me, and I’m a fan of a lot of sports,

you’re one of the greatest trash talkers in all of sports

that I’ve ever seen because you’re able to talk shit,

but there’s so much love and respect behind it.

It’s just masterful.

But you also get into people’s heads in the moment.

It’s beautiful to watch

because it really gets to some people.

So where does that come from?

It’s a powerful weapon, right?


Your voice is a powerful, powerful weapon.

And it’s underutilized by so many athletes

because they think that it’s not sportsmanlike

or something like that.

But the truth is, I mean, you can be a weak person,

but with your voice, you can influence

and change any number of things.

And the same thing happens in a fight between two people.

If you can just be a never ending, you know,

flow of negative encouragement to someone

or, you know, suggestion, anything can happen.

It’s a tool.

And when you’re fighting a person,

you’re not just fighting them.

You’re fighting everyone who’s watching.

You’re fighting the crowd, the referees.

And, you know, to get in the most ideal positions,

situations, you need to use your voice, yeah.

Yeah, and there’s, for people who haven’t seen,

I definitely recommend you watch

a bunch of arm wrestling matches

because there’s a crowd really gets into it.

And it feels like there’s a really intimate connection

with the crowd.

I suppose because the crowd is allowed

to be very close to you.

Yeah, I love it.

I want the crowd like right up on me.

Yeah. Yeah.

So sometimes, oh yeah.

So who are you, whenever you talk to somebody,

you literally pick somebody from the crowd?

Oh yeah.

Oh yeah, I’ll fucking, like I’ll start fucking off

his fans and like, yeah, like I’ll start talking

to their wives or whatever.

Yeah, yeah, there’s Jody.

She’s pretty dangerous to listen to also.

But yeah, one of his buddies, Mike Solares,

who’s, you know, really good arm wrestler,

was cheering for him, so I started to go after him.

Yeah. Yeah.

Smiling the whole time.

Yeah, it’s fun, right?

It’s fun.

It’s a fan, it’s fun to listen to,

but it’s also, what’s fun is how much it actually affects

some of the people you’re facing.

They get frustrated.


It’s great to see.

Well, you have to fight, right?

Like a lot of people think things will be given to them.

And the thing that, you know, I’ve always believed

from the time I was very young,

like I was convinced that our inevitable death

was gonna come from aliens, right?

Like some super aggressive, super violent species

was gonna come and smoke us all, you know?

And I’m like, I’m not like that.

I’m like, but as soon as one person is,

then you’re forced to have to accept it as reality, right?

So I like to fight for every single thing.

I like to try and be more and more aggressive.

And if someone matches me,

that’s when I can use my endurance.

And if they don’t, then I have the tactical advantage.

So that’s kind of my balance point.

And then, by the way, you also yell at the ref.


I mean, the games, there’s like levels to this game,

but you know, the feeling sometimes

when people get frustrated is like,

okay, this person’s cheating,

or like you’re trying to get a good grip

before it goes.

And I think some of the frustration

in combination with the trash talk is,

well, this person is cheating,

but everybody is like kind of trying to cheat,

get an edge within the rules.


So I try and just ramp it, ramp it, ramp it.

But you know, everybody’s different.

I’ve learned how to play the game

based off of the tools that I have physically.

And for me, this works because, you know,

my genetic makeup is more of a persistence hunter, right?

So like, I need to extend things,

and that works well for me.

You know, if I was more explosive,

I probably wouldn’t have the same strategies.


By the way, for people who are watching,

you’re wearing a No Limits hoodie,

which is one of your nicknames.

I don’t wash this thing too much.

It’s my bacterial shield to the world.



So you mentioned Jody.

She’s often in your corner

and does perhaps more trash talking than even you.

So I mean, if we could step away,

she’s an incredible human being.

As sort of as a fan, it’s fun to watch the two of you,

both when you’re arm wrestling and just as people.

I just see so much, I don’t know,

kindness and love radiating from the two of you

whenever you’re trash talking

or talking about just random things

or just talking about life.

It’s just a beautiful thing to watch.

And thank you for sharing that with the world.

But maybe can you, she paid me to ask you this,

but what are the things you love about Jody,

your wife, Jody Laird?

What are the ways she’s affected your life?


Jody and I go way back, right?

We were in high school together.

The thing that I admire most in people is bravery.

To me, it’s the most admirable quality.

And Jody always has inspired me

because she’s such a fighter.

If she believes that something’s true,

she does not back down.

She will not.

And not to say that she can’t change her mind

because she can, but while she is convicted,

she will not stop fighting.

She’s pulled me out of the fire repeatedly.

We’ve lived through so many things.

Very lucky.

How has she made you a better arm wrestler?

She’s fed me.

Yeah, I could see your videos of your house

basically coming apart when she’s not there.


Yeah, without Jody, I’m on the street living in a tent

and yeah, eating dog food.




What about love?

How has love made you stronger?

Now we’re gonna make Devin uncomfortable.

Yeah, love is difficult to accept.

Love is one of those things that,

a lot of times, you don’t feel worthy of it.

And so it’s hard sometimes to accept someone’s love.

And someone who really loves you,

they’ll love you even when you don’t.

And here you go, you’re gonna make me cry, Alex.

Yeah, Jody and I have been through so much.

And she’s shown me how she supported me

just repeatedly, repeatedly.

Some of that is loyalty and patience and perseverance

and all those things.

That’s like when love really shows itself.


It’s like sticking through together for years

even when you’re through the shitty times.

Love and faith are powerful forces in this universe.

Without them, we can descend into darkness very quickly.

As a world, even between people.

When love and faith is destroyed, then we fall apart.

And I’ve been graced by the love that Jody’s given me.

It’s allowed me to continue to build.

When you have love between people, then you build together.

I love my family, I love Canada,

I love the arm wrestling community.

I have a love for what we’re trying to achieve

as a human species, you know?

And when that falls apart, we don’t have much.

Yeah, just with my boy there, yeah.


You also mentioned you once had a job

where your death was a real possibility.

So you were in the Canadian Special Forces.

What did you take away from that experience,

that time in your life?

It was such a great life.

Really, really loved it.

Honestly, I never wanted to leave.

I never thought I would leave.

I thought I’d be there my whole life.

A real honor to get to serve.

What did you get to do?

What was the things you loved craftsmanship wise,

like fun things you get to do, learn and challenge yourself?

And you mentioned sort of honor in terms of the serving part.


Yeah, my favorite thing about serving in the Special Forces

was for sure the people that I worked with.

That’s probably the first thing I could say, you know,

I never, I always felt like totally comfortable

and putting my life in the other guy’s hands.

I was so happy to be in a place where I felt I could follow.

Like didn’t matter.

Like I knew that the people ahead of me were incredible.

I knew the people beside me were incredible.

So just having that faith in your team, it’s very special.

And to know that they’re there for a reason

that has nothing to do with money, you know,

and that’s what kind of brings everybody together

is you’re there for a higher purpose.

And in terms of being an adrenaline junkie,

there’s nothing like it.

I mean, there’s nothing like, you know,

going out at night and fighting.

And when I say fighting, like my whole life I wanted to fight.

And to me, there’s a lot of, and look at,

I’ve said this in the past

and I think it’s been a personal failure of mine

because I’ve said things like,

it’s the highest level that you can do.

And I don’t believe that to be true anymore.

But at the time, I thought it was the best way

I could express my drives that I had, you know,

to be a fighter.

So your sense in the past and maybe in part now

is that sort of fighting is when humans get a chance

to express themselves deeply, like that mix of the bravery,

the integrity, the, whatever that is that makes us human,

that human spirit can really shine.

And I don’t believe that anymore.

I believe that you can do that in any field,

in any discipline, you know, if you go hard enough,

it all kind of starts to feel the same.

But at the time, that, you know,

expression to me was really, really awesome.

I loved close quarter battle.

That was my favorite thing.

That’s really the whole reason I was there.

Can you describe close quarter battle?

Close quarter battle is team fighting.

So, and it can look a lot of different ways,

but basically it’s ground troops doing something

and it’s ground troops doing some kind of a mission.

And it’s the orchestrated movement that is the skill.

The orchestrated movement and the drills done quickly

and accurately, it’s very difficult to do.

With communication?

With communication.

Yeah, so it’s basically cooperating together,

communicating, there’s some strategy,

there’s some adapting to the changing environment.

And the more the team works together,

the less communication there is.

Yeah, yeah.

And that’s an amazing thing to do,

to be part of a machine, well, machine,

a team of people who can fight together like that.

I think it’s, we’re really designed to do it.

Like, as good as we can fight as individuals,

the thing that makes us really good

is our ability to fight as a team.


Yeah, that’s one of the things that makes us really human

is that collective intelligence, that social aspect.

And fighting is the highest of stakes.

So that social interaction under the highest of stakes

is, really does bring out something that’s deeply human.

I mean, war in general brings out something deeply human.

It does.

It’s, I mean, obvious to say that it’s tragic

that it results in so much loss of life and well being.

Let me, if it’s okay, for a brief moment

to take us back to arm wrestling.

We did this offline, we talked about,

you gave me some advice about arm wrestling.

But maybe do a high level overview

of the different styles and strategies

that we’ve talked about.

We talked about the importance of strength and power.

But is there offensive, defensive styles?

Is there, we mentioned King’s move.

What would you classify your style as?

It’s nice for people that don’t know.

Maybe even zoom back out.

So arm wrestling is a sport where two people have to,

when we talk about strictly the sport,

put their elbow on a particular pad,

means they have to keep that elbow on that pad.

And they win when the back of one of their hands

crosses some kind of, or basically touches the table.

That’s it.

And when you actually lock up, you do so,

depending on the organization, without straps,

meaning there’s just you, agree, it’s like mutual agreement

that you’re going to clasp your hands in a way that’s fair

and there’s a referee that helps ensure that it’s fair.

But of course there’s these little games going on.

And then when you actually go all out with this battle,

if there’s no straps, you can slip out.

So often you’ll put the straps, which means you’re,

it’s like marriage, you’re committed for,

like somebody will have to lose essentially.

There’s no pulling out.

So that’s sort of the battle within that.

What are the different styles that you can speak to

that people that don’t know arm wrestling could understand?

Yeah, we can start to kind of just dance

around the subject a bit.

I’d say there’s a lot of different types.

There’s specialists and there’s kind of blenders

and people who are very versatile.

A lot of guys win world championships on one singular move.

They get just extremely crisp at say a hook or a top roll.

And their style is very kind of focused.

And you’ll see it with a lot of athletes,

like kind of a talk about guy who’s very active,

a guy called Jerry Cataret.

As soon as you think Jerry Cataret,

he’s got a very unique style.

He’s got a flop wrist press.

So most of his technique is built around this one system.

Flop wrist means what it sounds like.

Your wrist is flopped, so it looks like you’re losing.

So he is pushing from a losing position.

No, he will be offensive.

So he will be in a press, so offensively,

so he’ll give his hand away

so that he can get his shoulder behind it properly.

So he doesn’t, wow.

So you can press, press means push.

Push, yeah, without having that hook position.

Which is what most people are always looking for.

And Jerry’s looking for it as well.

And then, so example, there’s another one.

There’s another specialist, Matt Mask.

He’s a top roller, right?

Basically, that’s his great move is a top roll.

And his other weapons aren’t nearly as powerful.

Just incredible top roll.

And then you have a lot of athletes that are more blended.

They have a lot of good options.

I think that I probably fall more into that category.

You have people who are more speed guys, okay?

So they try and do very little, I call it attrition, right?

So a lot of people are very willing to trade energy, right?

Because they have faith that their gas tank

or their pool eventually will tire the other person out.

So anytime there’s a trade, they’ll trade.

Whereas a guy like Travis Bajan,

he was very, very well known

as being extremely explosive, right?

But if the match stops, typically he’s gonna lose.

All right, so based off of your genetics, your hands,

there’s a lot of ways to skin it.

So I think you said something like you’re a 22nd guy.

That’s right, I’m a 22nd guy.

So what are the seconds we’re talking about?

So a lot of the power people,

they want to win in the first maybe five seconds,

like just that first push, that first press.

Absolutely, right to the pad, yeah.

And so you’re trying to hold off that attack.

Yeah, if I beat you in a second,

we’re not in the same world, yeah.

But when I’m with my peer group,

I will typically win 20 seconds and beyond.

That’s a typical win for me when I’m with a peer.

Whereas other guys, when they’re with their peers,

they’ll win in a second, right?

That’s how they do it, that’s the way they’re built,

that’s the way they train.

Yeah, most guys at a higher level at all

starts to kind of, it starts to get more and more difficult

to be a specialist at the high level now.

Some people just have little holes in their games.

It’s rare to get someone who can really do all the moves.

It’s very rare.

Where would you put Levan?

I would not say he’s a specialist.

I’d say his top roll is his strongest move.

Top roll?

Top roll is his strongest move, yeah.

And the interesting thing about the specialist

versus the blender, there’s a counter, right?

Every move has a move that theoretically

should be the right choice.

So if you’re a single move guy,

there’s gonna be a guy out there who’ll get you.

Yeah, it’ll be very difficult for you to beat that guy.

But when you come to a tournament,

typically specialists do much better

in tournament scenarios because their singular move

can get them through a tournament

very quickly and efficiently.

Whereas you get a blender in a tournament,

they typically will have longer and more difficult matches.

And by, oh, right, yeah.

But in supermatch format, typically blenders do better.

So we offline also talked about arm sumo

or freedom arm wrestling.

I don’t know how you wanna call it.

Oh, I love freedom.

Well, exactly, North American way.

So this is this idea, and I watched a few videos,

and it looks fun, is basically removing the restriction

of having to keep your elbow on the pad

and just being able to arm wrestle over the whole table.

I think you’ve mentioned that the criticism that gets

is it might be injury prone or something like that.

So can you describe this arm sumo, freedom arm wrestling


When you come to freedom arm wrestling,

basically it removes the limitation

of a standard arm wrestling table.

So basically every single thing

is a freedom arm wrestling table.

Some are better than others.

So looking for that nice table where we can kind of

stand apart from each other and we’re anatomically

in a fairly safe position.

And the rules in freedom, the way you win,

is the knuckles must either touch the tabletop

or you hold it off the edge for a three count.

So this is the main way to win.

Yes, you can foul, like if you lift your elbow up,

it’s still a foul, but you have the entire playing surface.

So your elbow’s no longer limited to your seven by seven

or seven by nine pad, so you can move it all over the table.

You can move your body around the table a bit too.

And if it’s a big table, your body

could largely be on the table.

Yeah, so basically it’s like adjusting your ring size.

So arm wrestling, you’re fighting in a phone booth, right?

So you’re fighting in a field, you’re fighting just bigger.

So it just makes the sport bigger.

Yeah, this is Japan.

But even on a small table, even in a slightly larger

phone booth, you can get a lot more fun and variety.

It’s very interesting to watch.

I love it.

I think it makes the sport bigger.

I actually believe that it’s the future of the sport.

I really do.

Because it makes it more accessible.

Like you don’t need the equipment.

You can do it at a bar, all that kind of stuff.

Yeah, less equipment requirements.

Most kids start freedom.

Like most kids arm wrestle on school desks.

And like if you see a guy on the street, you’re like,

whatever, you can arm wrestle anywhere.

You don’t need to bring your table around with you.

If we talked about the elite level,

if somebody was interested in starting in arm wrestling

or going from just like, you go to the gym,

you kind of lift, you’ve arm wrestled a few times,

trying to get better at it, trying to learn.

How would you advise getting better to where you can

beat your closest buddies?

That first step.

First step, I’d say find people.

Find people.

Find good people.


Well, get with a club.

Get with people who know what they’re doing,

who can mentor you.

And that’s really cool.

I realized there’s a club in Austin.


I’m sure there’s in a lot of places.

Oh, they’re everywhere.

We got this app called Armbet.


Which is a app that helps you find other people there.

Yeah, very easy.

But I mean, they’re all over social networks.

I mean, it’s kind of widespread now.

But yeah, find people.

Find people and it’s just much easier to learn

with another person and you’ll get stronger that way.

But I mean, do the lifts.

I mean, if you go to the gym, just start doing the lifts.

And right away, those will technically prepare you.

What are the lifts?

Can we describe what the first one is?

Yeah, so I’d say if you wanna just keep it

very, very simple, let’s just talk about three.

There’s much more than three.

But when you talk about energy allocation,

these three lifts, in my opinion,

should be like 90% of your investment.

It’s very big, these three lifts.

And the exact percentages, you can argue about it,

but we’ll start off with the cupping of the wrist.

Just this, it’s a simple thing.

And do it with a cable.

You can get a thicker diameter, so it kind of

is more out on your fingers where an armrest

is gonna attack you.

Because any good armrest is gonna attack your fingers.

So like open hand.

No, no.

Well, I mean, for health, yes, you could.

But if you wanna be really specific,

you train exactly the way you would at a table.

In the position that you actually start that match.

Yeah, and then you’re just doing this kind of thing.

Yes, to your center.

One of the big misconceptions in armwrestling

is that you’re aiming for that pin pad.


The center.

The chest up here.

Bring it close to you.

Make it come close to you, right?

You see like whenever I do my exercises,

the vector is always pulling straight towards me.


Yeah, so just cupping close to you.

The most dangerous thing that a person can do to me

on an armwrestling match is just pull me away from my body.

That’s a terrible thing for me.

Yeah, so that cupping, that’s a massive part of the sport.

So now when you think what does the cup do

to the other person, if I cup, they get turned over.


So this has to get really strong.

This pronation.

So to fight that rolling.

Exactly, yeah.

So that’s through the thumb.


Oh, so you put, got it, you put on the thumb

and you put this motion.


Got it.


So those two things, those two things together,

this cupping and rolling, this is what’s gonna make

the person’s hand bend back, and once the person’s hand

is bent back, just their whole game gets cut to pieces.

They have very little good options.

It’s all like nasty stuff.


Yeah, so those two things, that’s a huge part

of your investment.


Always be climbing.

Yeah, exactly.

Yeah, those three simple things, that’s what I would tell

anybody to spend most of their time on if you wanna

become an art wrestler.

So bands would be good for this?

Bands are great because they’re easy to transport.

The only problem I have with bands is like if you like

to measure, you know, and if you like to be precise,

bands just aren’t that precise.

Right, so to have growth.


Just, I mean, it’s just like, you know, you know exactly

what you need, the prescription is kind of, a band

is kind of like, and a lot of people, myself included,

I like to know exactly my outputs, so weights.

So would it be like cables?


Cables are nice.

Bands are great, too.

I mix the two.

Bands are when I kind of don’t need to, they’re more

like easy for me.

When I train bands, bands are dangerous

because the acceleration is so high on them.

Like when you screw up with band training,

the acceleration is way faster than gravity, right?

So if you do something bad, it can make it go

really much worse.


It’s funny that you didn’t mention bicep curls or.

Well, it’s a chain.

It’s a chain.

And so you’re, I mean, the idea if you focus on these three,

the other stuff catches up, like it’s all involved.

This whole thing is involved.

So if you have an ax, right, the blade of the ax,

that’s these things, right?

Like you need the pointy end of all your attacks

to be awesome, right?

If you have a super sharp ax, you could have

a shitty handle.

Yeah, right?

Yeah, so focus on that, the tip of the ax.

Yeah, the tip of the ax is so important, right?

Like if I have an awesome bicep and I can’t quite use it,

what’s it good for, right?

Yeah, I think a lot of the motions with the wrist

that you mentioned are, just thinking about jiu jitsu,

especially in the gi, there’s a lot of,

I mean, there’s so much importance to this,

and people don’t often work it explicitly.

So many of the chokes require ability to,

it’s almost like exactly like arm wrestling.

Very close.

Because you’re weak here, what’s that called,

flop wrist, and you’re strong with the cup, yeah.

And so just getting the, whatever that’s involved,

the muscle, the turning, the pressure,

because that’s where also the choke comes.

That little, the thing that makes you win in arm wrestling

is also the thing that finishes the person

when you have them grabbed.

The strength is very similar.

Yeah, it’s fascinating, actually.

Of course, like you said, if you wanna be very good,

you should be doing the very specific exact motion.

Yeah, so if I was gonna do jiu jitsu,

I’d be like working out with the gi.

Yeah, the problem is, you know,

it’s difficult to construct the exact,

so you have to actually go with people,

and then they don’t like being choked on, right?

So like it’s hard to, I’m actually a big,

we have these kinds of debates all the time,

is, you know, I’m a big believer in drilling.

I love doing something thousands of times.

Like John Donahoe is somebody I mentioned to you about

who, the jiu jitsu folks here,

they’re less believers in drilling.

They see the value of almost like the mind

of going live and exploring ideas.

It’s that play.

You don’t need to do the thing a thousand times.

You just need to always be thinking about

the little details that make you better,

and then in action practicing,

like developing the strength, the power,

the explosive of the agility in action.

So actually rolling.

I don’t, you know, I agree with this,

but I just believe in volume more.

Yeah, so you can accomplish it through volume.

You can play a lot.

Yes, exactly.

Well, that’s the, if you really wanna get it good

is you’re talking about, I mean,

that’s why a lot of these folks are training

three times a day.

They’re doing, you know, they’re putting in the hours,

eight hours, nine hours, just.

Well, that’s tough, oh my God.

Well, so there are a lot of them are not going hard.

It’s just being on the mat.

Some of it is just sitting there talking through ideas,

watching others or teaching, explaining stuff.

It’s just, it’s like, it’s not just physical.

It’s mental too, because you’re keeping in your mind.

And some of the greatest, they talk about the wrestlers

I’ve talked with, the fighters, at the top of their career,

they basically, George St. Pierre is like this,

another fellow Canadian, is like,

has stick figures in his head that he can’t help.

They’re like in there, because if you train enough hours,

you’re, it’s just gonna be in your head

and they’re all going to be playing around in your head.

And some little detail over time,

it’s almost like computing or something like that.

And that ends up having a result

even though you’re not physically doing anything.

It’s always in there.

I do have to return to diet real quick.

I know we talk about pancakes.

Let me, quite seriously, you are one of the,

I mean, strongest athletes in the world for your sport.

So you have to get big, you have to get powerful,

you have to get strong.

What is the right diet for you for that?

Like, what do you eat?

How often do you eat, yeah, from the highest detail

to the smallest, or the things that make you happy

and feel good?

Yeah, I’ve experimented with every diet.

I’ve done it all, I’ve been a vegan, I’ve done raw,

I’ve eaten only meat, I’ve eaten balanced,

I’ve eaten like a bodybuilder, you know, you name it,

I’ve probably tried it, I don’t believe

that it’s as important in the sport of arm wrestling

as it is perhaps in other sports.

I believe that, I mean, just to be very basic,

I mean, if you’re eating enough food,

you’re probably gonna be okay.

So it’s just calories.

I mean, really, I mean, not to overcomplicate it,

but I mean, that’s where the conversation starts

where you’re eating enough food.

And it can come in any number of ways,

and I don’t think it’s as important

as a lot of other people do.

I’m certainly irresponsible in a lot,

but the thing is, back to like, volume, right?

Like, you need to, like, if you wanna be

a super heavyweight, it’s very different

than if you wanna be a weight category guy.

If you wanna be a weight category guy,

I’d say that you need to be more responsible,

make better choices.

If you wanna be a super heavyweight, everything.

Just so we’re watching a delicious looking omelet,

so eggs, bacon, syrup, so you don’t care, carbs.

So in all the things you try, so I mostly eat meat now.

And I landed on that, there’s several things,

obviously I’m not, but I do a lot of sport.

And I was very surprised how my particular,

very specific body could perform better with only meat.

Why better?

The sports I do, the mind matters.

And so for some reason, my mind’s just clear.

And I don’t think, because it feels unhealthy.

It just makes me feel really good.

I don’t think I would recommend it to anybody else.

So it’s interesting that that journey of just exploring

can take you to figure out something about your own self.

One of the most interesting things that I heard about

nutrition was, I heard there was a.

Actually, Doritos, I forgot about that.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m an idiot.

Now, I’d say over the last couple of years,

I’ve really gone into carbs a lot and high glycemic carbs.

And just to, I feel like it’s one of the best things

you can do if you’re working out really hard.

Just add carbs, yeah, exactly.

But, oh, where was I?

So you’ve added, syrup is so delicious it’s distracting.

No, so you’ve added the high glycemic carbs into the mix.

So those help, but that’s for mass building.

Right, so there was a study that I heard about

by somebody who was trying to identify heart attacks.

They did this great big study.

And at the end of it, I mean, didn’t matter

what the people ate, the most important thing

was how they felt about the food that they were eating.

Yeah, so if you believe in the food,

if you believe that it’s gonna do good things for you,

if you allocate it the right way,

it’s gonna have a positive impact.

And I try and do that no matter what it is.

Like I have my foods that I think do certain things.

And so, you know, for me, I know that,

actually, I mean, I learned about corn fed pumps

when I was overseas.

I realized that I never used to eat crap, really didn’t.

I ate super clean all the time.

And when I was faced with imminent death more,

I would be like, okay, I’m going out tonight,

let’s have a couple ice cream bars.

You know, like whatever.

And what I realized is if I eat like an entire bag of chips

or like, you know, a bunch of chocolate bars,

and then I go and have a workout,

my workout will be incredible.

It’ll be incredible.

There’s something about easily processed carbohydrates

that will continue to quickly get into your blood

as fast as you can burn it.

And there’s something about that

that will give you incredible blood flow, yeah.

And also your mind plugging in, enjoying that.


And then believing it works,

and that’s how it makes it work better.


I mean, I feel that way.

I think this is really not,

this has been frustrating to me

about the health culture in the United States

in the studies that are done.

You know, you look at like the importance of sleep,

the importance of X diet, all those kinds of things.

I wish incorporated into that would be

your mental relationship with all of these things.

So for example, people that tell me,

well, your sleep schedule is insane.

Yes, perhaps.

But also, it’s insane because I’m doing what I love

and I don’t see it as a problem.


And I think that’s really important to understand.

If you sleeping crazy hours

is not affecting your stress

and is actually making you happy

or you’re drawing some kind of source of happiness

and pleasure and satisfaction,

like being awake when others aren’t.

It’s like the Mike Tyson thing or something,

like training when you’ve convinced yourself

everybody’s sleeping and therefore

you’re somehow training much better.

That’s powerful even if you look statistically

six hours may be worse than eight hours

or four hours may be worse than six hours.

So the mind is a powerful thing.

Super powerful.

But if you want to be a super heavyweight.


You got to eat like stupid amounts all the time, yeah.

You have to test your digestive system.

What’s your favorite meal by the way?

Just if you had to, you know, your last meal.

I am, I do, oh geez, I like so much food, it’s tough.

But I’d say the food that I rely on a lot

when I’m getting ready to compete is sushi.

Just because it normally comes in

an all you can eat format, you know.

So I love to go and just binge all you can eat buffets.

Sushi is just super convenient.


If I was a sushi all you can eat buffet place

I’d be terrified when I saw you.

Have you had barbecue at Texas?

Yeah, I love it, I love it, yeah.

So you, just a small tangent on this.

You faced The Mountain for Bjornsson.

Well first of all you arm wrestled him.

It’s interesting to ask, so this is The Mountain

from the Game of Thrones, a strong man,

one of the strongest people in the world,

for a time the strongest person in the world.

What was it like, I know sort of you guys

maybe weren’t going 1,000%, but what’s it like?

Well he probably wasn’t going 1,000%.


But like what, it’s interesting to think

what does that strength feel like?

So it’s a specialized strength in another sport.


What did it feel like?

What, how strong was he, what are some kind

of deep insights you’ve drawn from that battle?

I feel like if we were to go back 1,000 years

and if you give him armor and a two handed sword

he will just rip across the landscape.

And no one will stop him.

So this is the boxing match you came to,

but there’s also a video of them arm wrestling.

Yeah, what a titan though, what a titan.

A guy like that, tall, strong, fit, disciplined.

I mean he is quite a warrior.

419 pounds?

Yeah, yeah, he’s incredibly impressive.

I really like Hap Thor and I like Eddie Hall too.

And I was just so, I’m just so caught up with the drama.

Okay, so Eddie Hall and Hap Thor Bjornsson,

two of the strongest legendary strongmen that we have.

And they were the coolest, they were the top

when strongman was really super cool.

I don’t know all the details,

but they legit hit each other.

Like legit.

So I think it kind of stems, I don’t know,

like I say, I’m not right there with them,

but Eddie won the World’s Strongest Man event

or something one year and the thing is,

one of those victories where Hap Thor

was not accepting of his defeat.

Okay, and there was a little bit of back and forth.

And basically from what I understand,

they were gonna fight the knight

of the World’s Strongest Man.

And they kind of got pulled apart

and this heat between them got translated

into a potential boxing match.

So it’s very real.

It’s a very real fight.

So you have the two strongest dudes on the planet

are gonna fight each other.

So I’ve been like, you know,

because arm wrestling and strongman,

it’s kind of similar communities.

Who do you got?

If you were giving me financial advice

in the middle of the fight.

I am so bad, I always call it wrong.

They’re very different.

I see Hap Thor as being, you know, more.

Eddie Hall slimming down, is that what you mean as well?

I see Hap Thor as a bit more regimented,

but I see Eddie Hall as like way more barbaric

and like, I think he’s a little bit more athletic,

but Hap Thor is bigger and, you know,

they’ve chosen slightly different paths

to prepare for the match.

But what happened was like, they were about to fight

and Eddie Hall blew his bicep.

So me, I was getting ready for Levan in December.

We were supposed to arm wrestle in December,

but he’s got his movie.

And so I was like, okay, I can kind of get away

from the sport just a little bit, broaden my base.

That happened and I was like, ah, an opportunity.

You stepped in.

An opportunity to fight.

I’m like, I’ll do it, so.

How much training, you trained a little bit,

so can you tell about your own decision to do that?

What was the training like?

What was the experience like?

Oh, it was so much fun.

It was so much fun.

So basically, I made a funny video

and I sent it to the organizers of Core Sports

that I would do it.

I’m like, I’ll do it.

I’m sure they got a thousand people who wanted to do it.

But I’m like, listen, I’m an old man.

Like I’m gimped up like everywhere

outside the arm wrestling lanes.

I said, but I will 100%.

Like if you let me fight them, I’ll give it my all.

And whatever, they didn’t get back to me.

They’re like, yeah, whatever, okay.

So then they call me on a Friday,

like five weeks before the event,

and they’re like, hey, Devin, were you serious?

And I’m like, oh, shit.

And I’m like, yes, I was serious.

Yeah, I’ll do it.

And they’re like, okay, they’re like,

it’s down to you and like two other people

we’ll get back to you in a day or two,

but you would do it.

And I’m like, okay.

So they got back to me on Sunday, like,

so right away I’m like skipping rope.

And I’m like, and I’m so, I only arm wrestle legs.

That’s all I do.

So what was your, you did some striking training.

Yeah, so I went to this guy that he was awesome,

Zach, Ben Bushida there, that was it from TriStar.

Do you know for us the hobby and that’s.

And yes, people in the comments,

I will interview him on this podcast and people can.

He’s brilliant, right?

He’s an incredible guy.

So right away, like I had no idea

about the fight community across Canada really.

And I got like by the fifth message

that said you must train with Feras.

I was like, okay, called him up.

He was incredible right away.

He’s like, yeah, you can come and we’ll just work with you.

So I got, I got the call, I called him on like Monday

at two oclock by like seven oclock.

I had my things packed and I went to Montreal

and I spent four weeks in the fighter dorms.

Just humbling yourself.

Yeah, every day, just getting punched in the face,

you know, over and over going for runs with all,

like they’re all like Olympians and pro fighters

living in the dorms, super cool dudes.

They were so good to me.

Yeah, there’s a good video of you and Feras just talking.

Yeah, I don’t remember which stage this was,

but basically, but you were already beginning

to get humbled.

Oh man, I knew.

I mean, I knew what I was getting into.

Like I knew it was, I knew it was gonna be a losing battle,

but I felt like the opportunity to fight Thor,

like how cool is that?

Like I had to say, I had to do it.

I loved the process and I learned a lot from doing it.

Like the dorms, I wanna do something like that

with arm wrestling.

I think we’re big enough now that we can have these

kind of, you know, dorms, frat houses,

whatever you wanna call it.

What’s the dorm like?

So you’re basically staying there, food’s there.

So you mentioned, what was the word you used?


Yeah, exactly, that’s it.

So it removes all of that.

Makes it so simple.

You can just focus.

You know, the gym is here, you live here.


You know, that your life becomes simple.


So there’s a guy named Jimmy Pedro here in America.

He’s a famous coach, has a place up in Boston.

He has kind of a dorm like that too.


And that becomes essential when the community is small,

but you’re trying to do epic things like win an Olympic gold.


So you have to really put the people together

in these kind of minimalist conditions

where they just focus on the training,

focus, focus, focus.


Yeah, it wasn’t enough time.

I mean, I trained for about three or four weeks,

but I loved the journey and…

Well, what are some of the fun things you enjoy?

So you did mostly striking, did you?

Yeah, I guess it was…

Yeah, it was boxing.

It was straight up boxing.

Boxing, yeah.

What are some things that were transferable?

What are some cool things you learned from that?

So from the world of armwrestling,

have you taken anything back?

Like some training regimens, ideas about training,

even movements?

Because for us it’s a unique mind as well for training.


I don’t know.

I mean, I’ve gone very far down the path of armwrestling.

Boxing and armwrestling are very different.

They’re very different sports.

The physicality required is very different.

The mentality, I mean, it’s fighting.

So it’s another form of fighting, which is cool.

The big things that I took back from it,

the things that I loved about it was I had to run again.

So really work on endurance.


Yeah, I was going for runs with guys in the dorms

and they would just destroy me.

Just like it was so bad.

How did you feel in the actual boxing

in terms of endurance?

Were you able to?


It’s just torture.

It was terrible.

And the thing is it was so crazy for me

because I really was good once upon a time.

I really was.

Like physically, I had incredible full body endurance.

But being so specialized, I realized how much I had slipped.

And yeah, it was fun to try and regain it.

I think it’s affected my body composition.

I think since that training, I’ve become much more lean.

I think it was a very healthy thing for me to do.

Like health wise, I always think that when you’re far away

from competition, it’s really good to kind of spread out.

Really good.

So I think that in that way.

Also for your mind.


Yeah, just like, yeah.

Yeah, it’s something about clearing your,

I think you’ve talked about this is like

you’re basically taking steps back

before you take steps forward.

I forget how you call it.

Yeah, the wave.


Yeah, under, you know, you have to go under.

You got to.

You know, if you want to go above the line,

you have to spend some time beneath it.

And yeah, I was definitely beneath the line

for a long time.


But Mountain, I mean, like the interesting thing was

as incredible as he is, you know, like what a monster.

And I think if you had had him training in boxing,

you know, for a long time and like from his youth,

I think you, you know, the guy could be world champion,

but you know, to be so specialized and then to switch,

you’re at a disadvantage.


And also like I know from just fighting guys in the gym

in TriStar, some of those guys were way scarier, for real.

Like as scary as Thor is, like there’s guys

in that TriStar gym that don’t look like anything

that would murder me much worse, much worse.

Yeah, but also, you know, that’s the difference

between being in the gym and under the lights too.

I mean, GSB is an example, George St. Pierre is an example,

somebody that maybe doesn’t look terrifying.

He’s at a TriStar.

Yep, he trains at TriStar, but he’s quite,

he’s super nice, super humble,

but is terrifying when he’s fighting.


He’s dominating people.

You mentioned death and your Canadian special forces

and in general, thinking about mortality.

Do you think about your death?

Do you?


Do you contemplate the end, that this thing,

that this ride ends?

All the time, yeah.

From, I’ve thought about death from a young age.

Are you afraid of it?

Yeah, I hate it.

Yeah, I don’t wanna die.

Yeah, definitely don’t wanna die.

But there’s times when I can rid myself of it, yeah.

But for sure, I mean, I’m not happy that death is inevitable

and I’m not happy that potentially it’s inevitable

for all of us, but it does, I like to fight against it.

Does it, if you could be immortal, would you choose to?

That’s my only wish.

Oh, see, but here’s the thing.

That’s, but the point is to have that wish.

It’s like the all you can eat buffet at sushi.

It’s, that sushi’s more delicious if you have a limit.

Do you have a, oh.

Well, I don’t know.

I mean, I don’t think I get sick of stuff.

I’m very simple.

Yeah, I don’t think I would get tired of it.

I really don’t.

I mean, if someone would pose it to you,

do you wanna live forever?

You would choose no?

Yeah, I would choose no.

Choose no.

Well, my answer’s probably yes.

Like, no, I would, it’s more like the snooze button.

Do you wanna, do you, do you want?

Well, you could go to sleep.

But it’s very difficult in the moment to go to sleep,

but if I’m allowed to live forever,

I’m going to delay all the crazy,

like all the ambitious goals, all the,

because, oh, there’s always time.

That’s fine, but there is tomorrow, then.

But there is tomorrow, but see,

I think that takes away from the richness of,

like, the richness of the lived experience

of just each moment.

I think the richness of each moment

comes from saying, like, I could die tonight.

Like, that, it tastes delicious because you’re gonna die.

I’m afraid if you’re not,

I’m afraid all of that goes away,

all of that magic goes away if you can live forever.

I don’t know.

But I’ll tell you, every time I have a near death experience

or think I’m gonna die,

I definitely live better afterwards, yeah.

Like, it’s always been that way.

But yeah, no.

That’s why the Stoics, you know,

they really preach contemplating your mortality often.

It kind of reminds you.

This whole thing could just end any moment

and it makes you really appreciate.

Yeah, I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Certainly improving the quality of life is important.

But part of me thinks that immortality

is not as fun as we would like to imagine.

Do you think that maybe you’re,

in what you’re building potentially is immortal?

Well, that’s what I definitely think about with robots.

If they were to have a humanlike experience

and be able to interact with humans

in a deep, meaningful way,

I think they too have to be mortal

in some fundamental way that means mortal.

Like, their ride has to end as well.

Because they won’t be able to interact with humans deeply

unless that’s the case.

Like, to have fear, to have love,

the ability to suffer, the ability to miss somebody,

I think scarcity is important.

You have to be able to truly lose somebody.

You have to be, to fear things,

you have to truly have the risk of destroying yourself.

And to have a sense of what it means to be a self,

you have to be able to lose it.

So if you’re immortal, you’re just going to be,

I feel like you’re going to be like a toaster,

an intelligent toaster that just serves.

There’s such a negative perspective on it.

And then mortality?

Yeah, just think, well, now you just,

you can get all those things done that you want to do.

I hope you’re right, I hope you’re right.

Yeah, I mean, potentially, you could invest even harder

because you’re like, wow, I’m actually going to be able

to get all this stuff done.

I think about this a lot, I hope you’re right,

but I fear that the drive to create,

I can even do more, all of that dissipates,

disappears if you have all the time in the world.

I just know how lazy I am.

And if I have all the time in the world,

I’m just going to sit there and just watch

the stupidest YouTube videos for the rest of all eternity.

Now, eternity’s a long time.

Eat Doritos and Cheetos and just get fatter and fatter.

I can get in shape later, there’s always time.

That’s like a long period of contemplation.

Yeah, so for the first 1,000 years,

it’ll be the Dorito period of the Lex life.

Yeah, you could be like Jabba the Hutt for 1,000 years.

You mentioned aliens, very important topic.

Do you actually think about this

has been an increased interest,

and there’s been increased UFO sightings and encounters,

all that kind of stuff, the US government at least

releasing data, releasing videos of pilots,

pilot observations, and from airplanes of UFOs.

Do you think about this kind of stuff?

Because you mentioned in the following context,

you mentioned like us humans will get our shit together

when the aliens eventually come.

What do you make of all the sightings?

Is that something you think about?

I thought about it a lot when I was younger,

and I’ve just, I made my conclusions,

and yeah, I don’t think that there’s a possibility

that there aren’t aliens.

I would think that it would be impossible

for there not to be aliens.

I feel like this is pretty good real estate,

so you’d probably want it,

but we already might be, well, I don’t even think might.

I mean, it’s probably quite likely

that we are to some degree aliens.

I mean, all life is probably to some degree alien.

I like the real estate, so the resources,

but we’re also kind of interesting.

Whatever this ant colony of living organisms

that we’ve created, it’s kind of interesting to study.

I tend to believe that the alien civilizations

that are going to reach us or have reached us

are far more intelligent,

just orders of magnitude more intelligent than us,

and so it’s going to be very difficult both ways, actually,

for us to understand them and for them

to dumb themselves down enough to understand us.

Yeah, probably.

So they might even just miss our existence altogether

just because I tend to believe,

I don’t know what you think,

that we’re not that special

in terms of all the life forms in the universe.

There’s a lot of cool stuff out there.

Has to be, has to be.

But to us, we’re special.

Yeah, well, that’s all that matters, right?

Even the human species is the most special to us humans.

There could be much more special species here on Earth

they were just totally oblivious to,

like trees on a scale of thousands of years.

Maybe they’re onto something.

Lex, you know,

I think that so much of what makes a person special

is what they pass on, your kids.

But I think that you are quite special

because you’re part of this thing

that’s potentially giving birth to the next thing.

The robots.

I should say, the funny thing is,

while talking to Devon during this podcast,

I had a doorbell ring, had to go downstairs,

and there was a big box,

medicine box with a new legged robot.

So the hilarity of you saying that is,

because that robot is actually going to likely be

the main robot that I show to the world in the coming months

because that has the,

that’s the highest compute level in that robot.

So I’ve been playing a lot with legged robots,

the four legs, so like a dog.

I like all the robots,

but there’s something about when a robot has legs,

it’s able to communicate,

it’s able to connect with humans in some kind of deep way,

in the way a dog can, just show affection.

Something about like, step, step, step, step,

and then the robot realizes you’re here,

and then it steps and then notices you

in the way the dog does and raises its head.

It makes me feel noticed and heard

in the same way I do when a dog notices me.

That excitement, that stupid excitement of like,

yes, fellow living organism.

And what excites me about legged robots

is that holy shit, it’s possible to engineer this.

It’s possible to create that feeling,

and I wonder where that can go.

There’s a lot of negative possible trajectories,

but I have a sense that there’s positive ones too.

Adding more love to the world.

You think that they’ll take us with them?

Yeah, I think so because I,

so there’s this fear of robots

that they become super intelligent

and run away from us humans,

and basically become so intelligent

and then they almost just not giving a damn will destroy us.

But I think in order for robots to become intelligent,

they have to integrate themselves with society.

So they, by the very nature of how they become intelligent,

have to bring us along.

So it’s not that there’ll be this separate thing.

They have to, like, we’ll have robots in the home.

Well, they’ll be interacting with us.

You have human kids, and you have a bunch of robots.

You have robot friends.

You have human friends,

and the robots make your human to human relationships

much more meaningful and richer.

They bring more love to the world, but it’s integrated.

It’s not like they’ll be developing smarter and smarter

as, like, sentient beings by themselves.

I think that’s very difficult to do.

You have to be doing that together with humans,

and so we’ll come for the ride.

There’s technical things, like,

we might merge, like, cyborgs more and more.

Well, we already saw our cyborgs, right?

With the phones and so on, but more and more.

So with Elon and Neuralink, deeper integration of robots

and AI into, like, increasing the bandwidth

at which they can communicate.

So if we do implants in the brain,

I think, again, a lot of people are really nervous

about this, as am I, but I think there’s a lot

of trajectories that are positive there.

That, to me, is exciting, and also,

I just don’t think it’s possible to stop this development,

so we should steer it.

Yeah, yeah.

For good.

Did you, I mean, you must have watched

the movie Terminator, right?

Yeah, of course, I love Terminator.

Yeah, it’s probably my favorite movie of all time.

Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s the big fear, right?

Yeah, what’s the conclusion with Terminator?

Isn’t ultimately humanity wins?

I think they’re at, like, Terminator 8 now.


You know, I don’t know.

Yeah, and it’s interesting, actually,

I was gonna bring this up as you were talking about it,

but China and the United States actually don’t know

where Canada is on this, but they both have agreed

that they’re not going to put limits

on autonomous weapon system development.

They’re not going to.

So, because China said we’re not going to,

and now US officially announced that we’re not, we can’t.

Well, you can’t, it’s like, you never could, right?

As soon as it exists and it’s better, people will use it.

Well, but you, there’s been a global ban on bioweapons.

So, you were able to come to an agreement there

that we’re not going to use biological weapons in war.

So, it was, a lot of people are really upset

that in the case of AI driven weapons,

the world said, nope, that’s okay.

And so, now you have this potential

for greater and greater automation in drones,

for example, in picking bombing locations.

And so, the area at which they attack.

And so, you get, some of that stuff that you mentioned

that drew you to the military is that teamwork

between humans, that decision making.

So, there’s strategy, but built into that team

is a deep humanity.

Like, even when there’s an enemy, there’s lines

that you’re aware of, of what is ethical, what is not,

what is just and what is not.

And it’s so easy for a machine to miss all of that,

plow through it and do deeply inhumane acts,

commit atrocities.

That’s something that worries a lot of people.


Because, yeah, an AI based war is just, it’s terrifying.

Especially with cyber security, which is becoming

more and more of an issue, which is hacking.


Sort of people that look a lot like me

being the warriors of the future.


Which is meaning people behind a keyboard

versus the traditional warriors.

Probably inevitable.


And terrifying.

It is, it is.

But I think if you believe that it’s possible,

it’s certainly gonna happen.

Like, at some point, it’s just when, right?

When does it happen?

So that, I mean, to me, I’m ultimately optimistic

about the future.

And to me, I’m excited about the world with AI.

I’m even excited about the metaverse

and all these kinds of things, living more and more

in the digital space, in the virtual reality.

I think, so it’s a part of me that grew up

in the noninternet world, noncomputer world.

It says, oh, kids these days with their video games.

There’s part of me that’s like that.

But I think technology at its best

can bring out the best of humanity.

And so I think virtual reality, all of these things,

over time, we’ll figure out how to fix it

to bring out the humanity.

Social networks, the first generation social networks,

now Facebook, Twitter, and so on,

they have so many problems.

They’re bringing out the worst in people.

But I think we’re learning from that.

And I think the next generation of social networks

will be better and better and better.

And so I’m optimistic.

But of course, one reason we may have not seen aliens yet,

obviously, like in a way that’s obvious,

is because once you get clever and smart

and have all this cool technology, you destroy yourself.

And we sure as humans are pretty close to that.

Yeah, yeah, there might be that limit

that is hard to get right.

I’m hoping we get all our aggression between nations

out through arm wrestling competition.


Just all of that life.

Oh my God, wouldn’t that be great

if it was that simple, yeah.

Do you know if there’s another

over the top type movie to be made?

Oh yeah, yeah, there’s always stuff in the works.

There’s actually a, there’s a tournament called

Over the Top in Australia that’s a couple months away.

I think they’re doing an all the over the top scene.

But there are arm wrestling movies

that are being made right now.

Actually, there’s a documentary that’s filming me

for this whole Levan thing.

But yeah, we’re probably due for another big one, yeah.

But you’re also, just with your YouTube channel,

you’re doing a lot for the sport.

That’s really cool to see.

Just being genuine, but just being like,

looking not like you’re looking today, but just like.

Yeah, yeah.

Just a beard.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, normally a mess.

Just like sleepy.

You know, and just putting yourself out there

completely as you are.

That’s a beautiful thing.

The best thing about the sport

is it brings people together.

That’s it.

Yeah, the community, the folks I got to interact with,

just so awesome, so excited, so full of kindness.

I’m definitely gonna find the club here

and start working on my arm wrestling game.

Devin, this is such a huge honor

that you would spend your valuable time.

You would come down to Austin.

You would hang out with me and do this conversation.

Super cool to talk to you, Lex, yeah.

As I mentioned, in case people,

you know, people I’m sure will tell me.

So I hang out with Joe Rogan all the time.

He’s a friend.

I told him that he should talk to Devin.

He’s going through some stuff currently, you know.

But I’m sure, I hope the conversation

between you, Devin, and Joe happens eventually.

He’s, that would be epic as well,

because he’s a, yeah, he loves fighting.

He loves fighting, he loves wrestling, he loves strength.

And I think all of those are, like,

so perfectly encapsulated in the sport of arm wrestling.

So thank you so much for talking to me.

Thanks so much, Lex.

Thanks for listening to this conversation with Devin Larratt.

To support this podcast,

please check out our sponsors in the description.

And now, let me leave you with some words from Miyamoto Musashi.

The only reason a warrior is alive is to fight.

And the only reason a warrior fights is to win.

Thank you for listening, and hope to see you next time.

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