Meet Leonard Harkless
The Ultimate Armwrestling Professional

    I am still an active armwrestler but began armwrestling in June 1978 at a local theater promoting Sylvester Stallone’s movie  “Paradise Alley”.  I was 17 at the time, placing 2nd.  Unfortunately awards were only given to first place so I went home empty-handed.  I received my first award; a second place trophy in Cody, Wyoming, 2 years later at a Wristwrestling tournament hosted by Mike O’Brien the “Montana Star”. In 1981 I won my first State title in the 175 lb class. Since 1981 to the present time I have held State Titles in Washington, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, California and Wyoming.  In 1989 I placed 4th at the World’s Wristwrestling Championships in Petaluma at 175 pounds. I have had the honor to represent the United States at many International competitions both as an athlete and as a referee.  In 1991 I traveled to Hudson Bay, Canada to the Canadian National Championships and brought home a second place. Then in 1996 I dropped weight to make 154 pounds for the “Gold Bear” International Armwrestling Championships held in Moscow, Russia and placed 5th. Also as a competitor, I attended the 1998 International Armwrestling Championships in Rochefort, Belgium taking home 3rd place behind another American athlete, Robert Petley who placed 2nd.. In 2000 at the XX WAF World Armwrestling Championships in Rovaniemi, Finland I wrestled in the Masters Right hand 199-220# class and placed second after coming through the “A” side and being defeated twice by my fellow teammate Mike Ondrovic, who won the title.

       Coaching has always been important to me and I have had the honor of training many State and World Champions including, among others, Rick Steffens, Ed Baxter, and Marty Anzik. I still attend training sessions and practices, not only to keep in practice, but also to show the younger, less experienced athletes some of the techniques being used “on the table” today. The practices are also a great way to bring new armwrestlers in to the sport.  I have coached for the AAU wrestling club in Billings for many years. Building armwrestling and wristwrestling tables is another thing I do for people interested in the sport so they can practice, improve and attend tournaments around the World.  Owning a silk-screening and trophy business, Heavy Duty Awards, enables me to supply awards and t-shirts to armwrestling associations (and others) at a reasonable price.

      In 1980 I started my career in refereeing advancing to a “Head Referee” position in 1983.  In 1985 Steve Ventling, Dave Naylor and Denise Wattles and myself organized the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Association with a heavy emphasis on referee quality. Since Dave, Steve and I all had extensive experience in refereeing, we wanted to make sure that all tournaments we host have fair and consistent officiating. This was one of the main reasons for the development of the USWA/USAA.  We expanded to the promotion of armwrestling in addition to wristwrestling tournaments in 1987 and the high standards expected of all our officials remain consistent. Since 1985 I have promoted and organized over 450 tournaments as President of the United States Wristwrestling/Armwrestling Association.

       I hold the position “Deputy Referee” for the World Armwrestling Federation under the direction of Fred Roy from Canada and Head Referee David Shead of England. This is a great honor and responsibility and I have been an official at the WAF World Championships in Canada, Tokyo and Finland. At the “Gold Bear” International Armwrestling Championships 1992-1998 I was also the “Deputy Referee” at each of the annual events. 

      For the last 11 years, since 1990, I have had the honor of refereeing in Petaluma, California at the oldest organized Wristwrestling/Armwrestling tournament in the World, the World’s Wristwrestling Championships. As Head Referee I am pleased, and proud, to work this prestigious event with the best referees available.



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