Arms and the man (and woman)! Meet Bklyn’s true power couple

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Update: This event has been canceled because of the pending storm. This story was written in advance of its cancellation.

Talk about a power couple.

Two of the best arm wrestlers in the state are not only from Brooklyn — but they’re also boyfriend and girlfriend.

Joyce Boone and Harry Wilson have been together longer than they’ve been handily taking down competitors from Long Island to Niagra Falls. The two met 18 years ago — literally crossing paths while working as messengers.

It wasn’t until a few years later that Wilson spontaneously joined in an arm wrestling competition during the Atlantic Antic. He won. Later, Boone gave it a shot while accompanying Wilson to a match at Nassau Coliseum. She won, too.

The Downtown couple has been mostly winning ever since, and the two look to take down their respective genders at this Sunday’s Brooklyn-Kingsboro Arm Wrestling Championships, held during the Brighton Jubilee Festival.

Boone is the returning female champion, and the 44-year-old is the clear favorite to take home the $100 prize.

“She is no less the best arm wrestler in Brooklyn and New York State and maybe the world right now,” said Gene Camp, founder and president of the New York Arm Wrestling Association. “She is simply amazing.”

Wilson agrees. He is Boone’s biggest fan, gladly giving her the spotlight and even deferring to her responses during an interview.

“I don’t think anybody in the city can beat her right-handed,” said Wilson. “She wins every tournament.”

Well, not every tournament. During a regrettably memorable match in 1997, Boone broke her arm — on live TV, no less — after slipping into the aptly named “broke arm position.” Her right arm went down and snapped before the ref could stop the action.

“I definitely lost that one,” said Boone with a shake of her head. That experience has stuck with her at every match since. “I hope I don’t break my arm and just go up there and do my best,” she said.

It seems to work — Boone is the best female arm wrestler in the city, holding the city’s Queens of Arms title, and the state, after winning last year’s Empire State Championship.

Her boyfriend’s no slouch himself — the 49-year-old righty’s won 25 championships, including the Long Island Championships last month. It’s no surprise that the former boxer, who lifts weights and does pull-ups daily to stay in shape, has an arm like Popeye’s on steroids.

During this Sunday’s match, Wilson will look to beat Giorgi Gelashvili of Sheepshead Bay, who currently holds the title of Best Arm Wrestler in New York and won last year’s Brooklyn-Kingsboro Arm Wrestling Championships.

A professional arm wrestling match isn’t much different than the kind you may have done among friends to settle bets, though there are strict rules. Contestants compete either righty or lefty. Your fighting arm must be on the pad at all times, with your other hand holding onto a peg. When your competitor’s hand hits the pad, you win.

Arm wrestling is hardly king of sports in this city — this competition, for instance, is occurring during a block party. So besides the modest cash prizes and free sponsor T-shirts, what’s the draw?

“I like the excitement and the attention,” said Boone. “And the people are very friendly. We’re like family.”

As for Wilson?

“The exact same thing,” he said.

Brooklyn-Kingsboro Arm Wrestling Championships at the Brighton Jubilee Festival’s main stage [3264 Coney Island Ave. near Brighton Beach Avenue in Brighton Beach, (718) 891-0800], Aug. 28 at 1 pm. Free to watch. Contestants must register between 9:30 am and 12:45 pm. Update: This event has been canceled. For info, visit

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Reader Feedback

Or from Yellow Hook says:
You told yourself you were a tough guy when you had those cartoons inked on your arm.

And you believed the story you told yourself!

Now you've had a convincer - not so tough huh.
Aug. 23, 2011, 11:57 am

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