Former Champion Al Turner Loses Battle to Cancer
Al Turner sparred with sports legend Rocky Marciano for more than 300 rounds during the heyday of the heavyweight champs reign, and he considered a career as a professional boxer.
The former foundry worker, once described as possessing the strongest hands in the world, was out to set his own World Athletic Records as an Internationally recognized armwrestler. Al was a longtime Brockton, Mass. resident who won his first armwrestling match as the age of 10 against an opponent twice his age.
An 11 time National and World Champion who became a legend of the sport before his 1984 retirement, Turner, passed away on June 4th from lung cancer diagnosed eight months ago.
Turner was only 10 years old when his father, Louis Turner, lost an armwrestling match to a friend. "He said to Al, take him down. The guy was a lot older, but Al did it". When he was young it was just something he liked to do. "As a boy he was amazed that he could handle much older people. It is a matter of brute strength, but you also have to know how to handle it."
Turner was armwrestling at the Russell Club in the city and overwhelmed a local man who was considered to be one of the best in the sport. "He told Al he should be in the National competition. Two weeks later Al won the National Armwrestling Championship at his first try, you could hear a pin drip. Everyone wanted to know who the "guy with the glasses was" when he walked out with the heavyweight trophy. "Actually I expected to come in among the first seven or eight".
During the next dozen years, Turner became such a dominant force in the sport that he became a celebrity and was called "the godfather of armwrestling."
Turner traveled throughout the World to enter International competitions. In 1979 he won his ninth championship at the World Armwrestling Championship in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Before a cheering crowd, he received his 10th World title in Brazil and his 11th at the Canadian Armwrestling Association meet in 1982. Along the way, he took the top honors in hundreds of regional and state competitions. The cellar of his Brockton home is filled with the statues and plaques that were too numerous to display.
During his many years in the sport Al counseled and trained dozens of young athletes. "Some people are afraid to help others. They dont want to let out their little secrets." Al taught armwrestlers to think at the table. You can teach the basics, but you also have to know how to use them.
In addition to his overwhelming upper-body strength, Turner was widely known for his crushing hand grip and his ability to intimidate his opponents. He had a doctor who was trained in karate once tell him that he had the strongest hands he had ever seen.
Al was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
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