History of the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Assn., Inc.

The USWA/USAA was established in March of 1985. They are based in Billings, Montana and have held over 450 tournaments in their 14-year history. For the last 5 years they have held a National Pro-Am Armwrestling Championship in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in June where over $12,000 in cash and prizes are awarded to Professionals, Amateurs, Masters and Novices. In addition, this event has become an International tournament with the participation of wrestlers from Russia and Canada. Athletes from as far away as New York, Alaska, Georgia, and South Carolina have come for the challenge of competing with top armwrestlers from many other states that they have only heard about. In November 1998 the USWA/USAA held the first annual Forsa Tropical International Armwrestling Championship in Curacao, a tropical island in the Caribbean. Over $40,000 in cash & prizes were awarded over the 2 days of the event. Classes were run for Amateurs in addition to the Professionals so any caliber of wrestler had the opportunity to participate in this prestigious tournament. Both of these tournament have classes for Amateurs only and offer outstanding prizes and trophies for amateurs which may include Champion Belt Buckles, Jackets and exceptional trophies.

Their reputation worldwide is one of respect, quality and admiration. Their officers and referees have been used as consultants and personnel in many of the high-profile tournaments that are being produced in the United States, Canada and Russia. Among other reasons, they are well known for the quality of their referees. Each of their referees has had many hours of training and experience as a referee in addition to the training and experience they have had as competing armwrestlers. Some of them, including Leonard Harkless, Gary Wattles and Keith Michel have been refereeing for 15 years or more and have refereed over 200 tournaments each. The USWA/USAA also assists the World's Wristwrestling Championship President, Dave Devoto, in the selection of Team USA, which has attended the "Gold Bear" International Championships in Moscow, Russia every year since 1990. In fact in 1993 the World's Wristwrestling Championship co-sponsored the Gold Bear Tournament with the Russian Armwrestling Association. This is the only team which is invited to attend from the United States to compete against armwrestlers from 30 other countries at this prestigious international tournament. Armwrestlers nation-wide can qualify to attend this tournament regardless of which armwrestling association they may belong to, if any.

The USWA/USAA is unique in that it is a non-profit association. It was started to improve and promote the sports of wristwrestling and armwrestling. They are sanctioned by the World's Wristwrestling Championship based in Petaluma, California and United States ArmSports. Members of their Board of Directors are: Leonard Harkless, President; Denise Wattles, Secretary/Treasurer; Steve Ventling, National Vice President; Larry Bitterman, Mt. Vice President; Stan McEntire, Idaho State Representative; Ruth Purdy and John Swan. Alternates to the Board are Wade Bomar and Gary Wattles. They have an extensive mailing list of thousands of active armwrestlers from the United States plus thousands more throughout the World.  Additions are made daily as they are contacted by wrestlers interested in the quality tournaments which are being presented.

Leonard Harkless - President and founder of the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Association. Leonard started armwrestling in 1978. He has held State Titles since 1981 in Washington, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and Wyoming. In 1989 he placed 4th at the World's Wristwrestling Championships in Petaluma, California. At the Canadian National Championships in 1991 he placed second. Leonard is still an active competitor, in 1996 he wrestled in the "Gold Bear" International Armwrestling Championships and placed in the top 5 in his weight class. In August 1998 he placed third in the 1998 International Armwrestling Tournament that was held in Rochefort, Belgium. Leonard started refereeing in 1980 and has been a Head Referee since 1983. For the last 9 years he has been a referee in Petaluma, California at the World's Wristwrestling Championships and has been "Deputy" Referee for 5 years at the "Gold Bear International Championships" in Moscow, Russia. In1985 he organized and became President of the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Association, a non-profit Association. He has trained many past and current World Champion armwrestlers. He also spends time as an AAU Wrestling coach. He is the sole-proprietor of a trophy and silk-screening business. Leonard also builds Armwrestling and Wristwrestling tables for people interested in the sport so they can practice, improve and attend tournaments around the World. Leonard has promoted and organized over 450 tournaments in the United States.

Denise Wattles - Secretary/ Treasurer of the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Assn. Denise is also the Team Manager of the Team USA Moscow which attends the "Gold Bear International Championships" in Moscow, Russia. This year (1998) was her 7th year making flight arrangements and organizing a team, which can number up to 40 wrestlers. She was also the Team Manager for the 1998 USA Team that won first place in the XIX WAF World Armwrestling Championship that was held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. For years she has been announcing and bracketing for the USWA/USAA. Since 1991 Denise has also done the announcing and bracketing at the World's Wristwrestling Championship in Petaluma, California and in 1996 bracketed the "International Tournament of Champions" in Kelowna, British Columbia. In addition to the Nationals she has worked at over 400 tournaments. As large as the USWA/USAA has grown, it takes a lot of her time to assist in the promotion of the tournaments and make sure that the advertising is done and that all the wrestlers are notified of the events. Denise's strong background includes marketing, accounting, and her ability to speak Spanish and Russian has also been an asset to her profession. She is extremely capable as both manager of Heavy Duty Awards and being the secretary of one of the largest armwrestling associations in the World.  As Dave Devoto stated, "she is the consummate professional in the sport."



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