Thanks to charismatic arm wrestlers and YouTube stars like Devon Laratt, Schoolboy, Larry Wheels, etc, the sport of arm wrestling in the past decade has exploded in terms of global popularity.
But the arm wrestling history used to have a much richer background than we see today.
Firstly, the sport started as a show of strength in the military and bars.
It later transitioned into somewhat competitive as the best arm wrestlers on the planet competed and star pullers like Duane “Tiny” Benedix arose.
Sooner arm wrestling association and arm wrestling federations started organizing events at a global level.
Even non-arm-wrestling organizations like the Arnold Classic and International Federation of Arm Wrestlers or IFAW Results (under IFBB) began organizing events.
Here are the top 10 best arm wrestlers of all time:
10. Vitaly Laletin
Vitaly Laletin is a Russian arm wrestler.
Vitaly has achieved many world records in powerlifting and strongman competitions.
Laletin is known for his impressive strength and physique, despite his relatively average size.
He has competed in several arm wrestling tournaments, including King of the Table 5, where he was defeated by Dave Chaffee 4-3.
He has also competed in the AMC Armwrestling tournament, where he faced off against Dmitry Silaev and Artem Grishin.
The fight between Vitaly Laletin and Levan Saginashvili in the Top-8 Final ended with Levan Saginashvili as the victor.
Even though Vitaly lost against the giant, his ability to hold the Georgian for some time really impressed arm wrestling fans.
9. Levan Saginashvili
Levan Saginashvili “Georgian Hulk” is a professional arm wrestler known for his intimidating size.
He is the current World Arm Wrestling Champion in 2023 and has been defending the title for a lot of time and six times the European Arm Wrestling champion.
In 2019, at the most prestigious arm wrestling tournaments, Saginashvili defeated Russian rival Vitaly Laletin 6:0 and won the championship belt.
Currently, Saginashvili is preparing for his grand match against the second Champion Ermes Gasparini.
8. Alexey Voyevoda
Alexey Voyevoda is a Russian bobsledder and professional arm wrestler.
In the early 2000s, he dominated as the world’s best arm wrestler. He is 10 times the World Armwrestling Champion.
He is quite popularly known for brute static strength after fans witnessed his matches against Travis and Pushkar.
He won three Zloty titles in a row by 2003.
During his competitive career, his right arm was considered the strongest right-arm top puller in Europe.
His unbeatable streak of winning WAF World Championships in the late 2003s was eventually stopped by Travis Bagent.
He then intensely trained for the next year and won the overall division at Nemiroff (Zloty) in November 2004, beating both Bagent and his hero, Brzenk.
His biggest-ever win over John Brzenk in Zloty Tour 2004 Cup training can be watched from the “Pulling John” documentary.
Later the same year, Alexey Voyevoda won super heavyweight class WAF world titles in both arms.
7. Dave Chaffee
Every arm-wrestling fan knows Dave Chaffee for his hydraulic power.
This person has been a prominent figure among the stars of arm wrestling for several years.
Impressive fights are widely discussed with his participation on various continents.
He has dominated in almost all competitions like World Armwrestling League, Top 8, Nemiroff World Cup, etc.
Dave is particularly known for his brute horsepower.
His style of comfortably cupping and blazingly top rolling makes any however strong or tactical opponent helpless.
However, only one man can match Dave’s power with some tactical support, Denis Cyplenkov.
Despite that, during their last encounter, Dave initially overpowered Cyplenkov at some point, which forced the Russian to use King’smove.
The only aspects that hold off Dave are low flash speed and relatively low endurance.
Otherwise, he is probably the only man on earth to match Denis in pure power.
6. Andriy Pushkar
Andrey Pushkar was a professional Ukrainian bodybuilder and world-champion arm wrestler.
In Childhood, He saw the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Commando and decided to become an athlete.
In 2003, Pushkar won his first world championship medal in the heavyweight division.
In June 2013, he was defeated by Cyplenkov in A1 Russian Open World Armwrestling Grand Prix and regained the title by defeating Cyplenkov the very next year.
On 14 November 2018, Andrey Pushkar passed away in a traffic crash while driving in the Rivne region, along with Oleg Zhokh’s (another arm wrestler) father.
5. Travis Bagent
Travis is a left-arm champion, who lost to all his competitors at the beginning.
At 38, however, Travis has indeed become a renowned arm-wrestling star in the world.
Before his professional arm-wrestling career, Travis worked in a bar and wrestled on weekends, where he met many arm wrestlers like Ray Patton, Bob Lear, and Les Whims.
Since 2000, Travis Bagent has won nine national Rt & Lt titles, five AAA Nationals between 1999 and 2003, and one Mike Gould Classic title in 2006. Not just that, he has many other awards and titles.
Travis alongside Mike Ayello, Dave Chaffee, etc. was featured in the Reality TV series Game of Arms (2004) featuring training and organized arm wrestling events.
4. Devon Larratt
Devon “No Limits” Larratt is perhaps the most popular arm wrestler in the world.
Devon is Canadian, and his interest in arm wrestling began in his early teens.
Larratt credits the experience he has gained on several military bases as part of his success, after joining the Canadian Special Forces at 21 where he would train and compete.
Devon has the perfect triad required for arm wrestling success; many regard strength, skill, and endurance as the world’s best arm wrestler ever.
In 2008, Devon won the Arm Wars Super Series after defeating legendary John Brzenk by 6-0 in a breakthrough match.
Larratt had undergone surgery on his right arm and elbow, forcing him to compete with just his left hand in 2013.
He had a similar operation on his left elbow in 2016, but he recovered much quicker and in that same year, he was able to win the World Armwrestling League (WAL).
3. Cleve Dean
Cleve Dean was a professional arm wrestler originally from a town named Pavo in Georgia, USA.
Alongside his arch-rival, Virgil Arciero, Cleve Dean dominated the sport around the 80s.
A reason for his brute static strength could be credited to his farming disciplined lifestyle of raising hogs and harvesting cotton and tobacco. This, besides the sheer strength we see in many pictures and YouTube videos, created a commitment to work.
Cleve was “larger than life” physically, but he had the personality to match and enjoy travel and people. In 1979-80, he took part in Worlds Strongest Man and reigned for 10 straight years as the World Champion Arm Wrestler.
He further traveled to Sweden, Italy, Japan, and throughout the USA. His brute, farm-raised strength distinguished Cleve from other arm wrestlers.
His legacy of physical strength in arm wrestling and being the strongest world competitor is undisputed, despite his passing away at 58 in 2011.
2. Denis Cyplenkov
Although he began pulling in Russia a few years before, Denis Cyplenkov was first mentioned in 2008 by most people.
In June he defeated Andrey Pushkar 6-0 in a left-hand PAL arm fight and finished the decade with the perfect arm record.
Tough in his professional arm wrestling career he did not contend regularly, instead choose the Nemiroff World Cup (Zloty Tur) to show his talents in the largest international tournament in the world.
In both 2008 and 2009, he won the left-hand tournaments and in 2008 and 2009 the only matches he lost were on the right hand to John Brzenk. He also defeated Devon Laratt in Vendetta All-Stars scoring 6:0.
Denis could be the strongest arm wrestler in the world as he also competes as a strongman and holds the record for heaviest strict curls of 113 kg/249.12 lbs.
In 2023, he is focusing on staying at the basics and building strength through basic exercises and is looking for some challengers.
1. John Brzenk
John Brzenk is officially named by the Guinness Book of World Records, as the “Greatest Armwrestler of All Time.”
His father, an arm wrestler himself, could pull him, his brother, his father’s friends, etc driving young Brzenk towards the sport.
Growing the right physical structure at this age set him able to compete for a long, strong, arm wrestling career.
Brezenk won GOLDEN BEAR Titles: SUPERMATCH (Absolut Champion), 2000,2001,2002,2009 Harley Pull Titles, Over the Top World Championship (defeating Richard Lupkes), USAA National Pro-Am Championship (defeating Ron Bath), etc.
Brzenk defeated winners from all weight classes, earning the top spot in almost every competition he competed in, and has a cameo appearance in the 1987 Sylvester Stallone film Over the Top.
John had perhaps the best cupping (wrist) strength of all time, as could get his wrist bent on just about anybody.
Not just the wrist, Brzenk’s elbow bone, tendons, and ligaments are perhaps strongest too.
Such stresses during puberty (unlike later in life) have a major effect on adult physical development. In every situation, his technique and sports knowledge enabled him to use his strength.
The connective tissue of his elbow and forearm makes his hand back pressure and side pressure tremendous.
Even if he lost his wrist position, somehow he might dead-wrist press a guy across the arm wrestling table. His static strength makes it impossible to open his wrist and to escape when his wrist is bent and his pronator is locked.
No Doubt these are the reasons John Brezenk is called the best arm wrestler in the world.