While you might see a night at the bar as a chance to catch up with friends after work, sample a new craft beer, or to meet potential bedroom partners, the ladies who founded the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers (CLAW) used a rowdy night out as the basis for what has become a national phenomenon. After a series of friendly-but-intense bar room arm wrestling matches, friends and co-founders Jennifer Hoyt Tidwell and Jodie Plaisance decided to start working out together so that Jodie (who was zero for two) could “avenge herself.” In the process, the pair came up with wrestling-esque alter-egos and started inviting friends, gym buddies, and “everyone they encountered anywhere” to join their fantasy league. CLAW was born in the back of a Charlottesville diner in early 2008, and since then, more than eighteen leagues have been formed under the Coalition for Lady Arm Wrestlers (also abbreviated as CLAW) by women ready to rumble around the nation.
A recent New York Times CityBlog profile of New York’s Five-Borough Arm Wrestling League contended that CLAW tournaments are “less showcases of athletic panache than a combination of street theater and fund-raising,” and compared the sport to the increasingly popular roller derby. While some ladies might argue about the physical prowess required to compete, it’s difficult to debate the creativity behind personas like “Nancy Drew Blood” and “Amy Smackhouse” or the 200,000+ dollars the wrestlers have raised for a variety of charities across the US.
This Saturday marks the inaugural ladies’ theatrical arm wrestling tournament, aptly titled ‘SuperCLAW: The Mother of All CLAWs,’ to be held in Charlottesville, VA. Eight teams from around the nation are sending one woman champion each to wrestle for the chance to win the ‘Cape de SuperCLAW’ and a cash prize to be donated to the victor’s charity of choice.
If you’re in the Charlottesville area, the event takes place at the Jefferson Theater at 8 PM on June 16th, and you can buy tickets here or at the door, where there will be a limited number of pay-what-you-can tickets. If you’re elsewhere, check out the CLAW USA website to find a league near you or to start one of your own. And check out this video to see some of the ladies in action!
Photos courtesy Kristen Luce for the New York Times, CLAW USA, NOLAW, Five O’Clock Publishing, and D/CLAW.