A night of old-fashioned all-female arm-wrestling fun almost turned to disaster on Sunday when a contestant's arm was fractured during the opening stages of the competition.
Lower Burnside's B-Side Tavern was packed to its grimy rafters with some of the toughest women in Portland—and their enthusiastic male entourages—for the bar's fourth annual Ladies of Arms Wrestling championship
, a charity event to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Portland
A record number of 46 contestants of all ages, shapes and sizes took to the battle table to muscle it out for a good cause (not to mention bragging rights and free beer) in a single-elimination contest of brute strength and willpower.
But the fun almost came to a very abrupt and premature end only a few matches into the first round, when one contestant's arm was pinned, prior to a blood-curdling scream
. The crowd fell silent as paramedics were called in to treat what was reported to be a spiral fracture—in which the bone is literally twisted apart—and it looked like the contest would be over all too soon.
But for most contestants, the added element of danger appeared to make the challenge even more appealing
, and—with the injured contestant in the safe hands of medical professionals—the battle resumed with renewed passion.
Bras came off, glasses were broken and plenty of contestants went far beyond the platonic post-bout handshake in a sheer spectacle of bulging biceps and female fury that made Rumble at the Roseland look like a room full of sissies.
Spectators hollered, cheered and chanted, “Kumite! Kumite!
” and “Sweep the leg!
” for competitors like War Pony, Tifferella, Sloppy Jo and Jewel of the Knuckle.
After several hours of grunting, sweating, strutting and swearing, it came down to two: buff local favorite Stace, and Sabotage, the dark horse of the competition, with a deceptively lithe build and quiet cool. Sabotage put up a strong fight, gripping on to the table for dear life, but it was Stace all the way, and the crowd erupted as she finally pinned her opponent's knuckles to the table and the referee raised her fist in victory.
Winner Stace pins Sabotage
Despite the broken bones, the night raised over $1,000 for MS, and B-Side's co-owner, Joel Denton, says it was one of the most successful all-female arm-wrestling competitions the bar has run to date.
Disclaimer: Your intrepid reporter, Ruth "Arms of Thunder from Down Under" entered, but was defeated in the first round by a 57-year-old mother of two.