For many, arm wrestling is something they do with friends while they’re out at the bar or something they did in the cafeteria when they were younger to prove they were the strongest. For Sealy citizen Jeremy “The Tank” Petruncio it’s a sport that has grown into a passion.
Petruncio was raised in California where he played high school football and later would try out for the Chargers. He tried his hand in MMA-style fighting even going as far to get a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but decided that it wasn’t for him either.
In 2008, he went to the San Bernardino County Fair, an event he likened to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and discovered an arm wrestling competition. He entered and walked away as the eventual winner and after just one competition, he knew it was something he wanted to keep doing.
“People think of arm wrestling as this purely strength thing where if you just put your entire body weight behind it, you’ll win but it’s not that at all,” Petruncio said. “There is so much technique and strategy to winning because if someone hooks you a certain way or gets too much leverage then it doesn’t matter how big I am because they’ll probably end up winning.”
Petruncio moved to Sealy in 2016 after working for the Department of Defense as a tank mechanic for 12 years. His job with the government is where his nickname “Tank” originated. He still travels to different states to compete in a variety of tournaments.
He said the best way to train for the competitions is simple repetition of practicing the sport against others. He also said working out the entire arm using tools like the country crush handle, a tool developed by one of his followers named Roy Cote.
Most recently, he traveled to Louisiana in early May to compete in the 30th annual Louisiana State Arm Wrestling Championship where he walked away the winner. For Petruncio, the competitions provide a money-making opportunity but that is far from the most important part of them.
“Yeah, it’s always nice to make a little bit of money on the side for your family but you don’t get involved in this sport for money,” he said. “The people who you get to meet and you see at these competitions, they begin to become like a family of its own. You practice with these people and soon you’ve surrounded yourself with some of the best people you’ll ever meet.”
One of the bigger challenges that have faced Petruncio since he has moved to Texas is putting a team together. Despite arm wrestlers being presented in most of Texas’ major cities, their ability to come together to form competitions and practice is hampered by the vast size of the state.
“Even in the Houston area, I know a guy who arm wrestles in the Woodlands and he’s awesome to practice with but I have a family here in Sealy so I can’t make that drive every day so I want
to make this a Sealy thing,” he said. “The city takes so much pride in its accomplishments and I really think we can put something like that together here.”
While he continues to look to increase arm wrestling’s popularity in the area, Petruncio will continue to compete whether it be by himself or with the few other arm wrestlers in the area.