How long have you been in the sport?
I initially trained for it as a sport and competed on the state level as far back as 1982. so officially going 25 years.

How did you find armwrestling?
It was the late 70's and I worked on a fishing boat taking 90 people a day fishing in the gulf each day. I had this friend who was older and the engineer of the boat. He had an extrordinary ability to do a sit up with 90 pounds of window weights strapped and held behind his head. Later I found out this ability came as a result of recovering from a broken back . He had fallen from a bridge almost 100 feet onto a frozen pile of sand at a glancing angle. he was Norwegian and named Knute Harsdvedt but we called him Gus. He was kind of my brother's and my beginning to the strength thing.
Anyway we would work hard and then have these contests and being young and full of well something :) , I was a cocky kid. One day we had a full boatload of mininites and the head of the group had this son of his and they directly approached me about armwrestling. To this day I do not know who this kid was but he was skilled and trained and he didnt moosh me but it was clear I stood no chance with him. I knew there was more to it than just toughness but it would be a long time before I actually grasped just what it was going to take. My brother was obsessed with it and always wanting to test me out. He was 15 -16 at the time and our matches became a painful thing ending in a tie most of the time. I went to work in the Oil Fields in Louisiana and My brother and parents made a temporary move to Cocoa Beach where he finished his High School and trained with the Football Team . That year he obtained alot of help with the coaching staff and was turned his natural strength into something pretty amazing. He weighed like 165 and was a bulldozer. I came down after his graduation and he was activiley training and had come leaps and bounds ahead of me . It was a big time for me to grow up in life in my early 20's and I made active decsions to pursue a little cleaner way of life than I had been and start training as well.

First tournament experience?

In 1981 I was working but my brother attended the Nationals and did well although these guys and their technique plus familiarity with the rules and how to use them was the only thing that stopped him from doing much better. He was 4th I think but he caught Jimmy Fitzsimmons and Davey Patton both by surprise and almost put them in a bind . So when he came back from that we activley pursued tournaments around the stateof Florida involving Bobby Hopkins and a guy named Tim Riley. I was terrible and in 10 tourneys in a year I was 2 and out until the last one where I placed 3rd finally. Then in 1982 ? we drove to Burlington Vermont and wrestled in the seated Nationals. It was an even bigger disaster because every fishing season "summer" I would fish for a living and I had this makerel back fin stuck in my index knuckle. I went two and out there as well but when I returned home the darn thing came out. It was 5/16 of an inch long and when I tried to toproll or sidepressure it would stick deep in the knuckle. I did much better in 1983 in Houston and just kept going from there. Houston is where I met Norm Devio and many other people including John Brzenk . There are so many it is impossible to name them all. Lets just say the numbers were scary. The 165 class had close to 30 entires with Burt Whitfield winning it.

Favorite armwrestling experience?

I will answer this first by simply saying My Next One

Now I will also answer with my best experience with Armwrestlers was being elected Armwrestler of the year in 2003 by so many friends . I am kind of simple but when everyone shows the love it strikes a place that never goes away.

As far as what I like it has got to be the Worlds. Man you know what I mean Gary. Everybody from everywhere in a foreign place and competing and having fun. It should be the sport of peace just from that . Heck in 1998 we even had a Palestinians and an Israelis putting aside differences to compete even though they were a little anal during the process. It's the stories that are rich.

What are your goals with armwrestling?

This is a very hard question. I am not sure I know the answer to it other than to say I haven't reached it whatever it yet. I want to be noticed sure but I feel I am still getting better albeit late in life.
Here I have the answer . My goal is to do as much of it as humanly possible and be competative as long as possible.

Best training tip?
As Mr. Brzenk pointed out some time back though we have to get plenty of rest .

Who is your favorite armwrestler?

besides literally every old armwrestler which includes that relic John B. :P
The list is long and they are all my favorites.
I guess my answer would be a many guys. Bobby Hopkins ,Frank Bean , Norm Devio , Burt Whitfield and ........more from my time but there are many that you guys probably wouldnt even recognize their names. The skills that make up some of the best armwresters and wrestling have been practiced since the beginning. In the old days it was hard to get any solid information from many so my answer would be based on the people who were open and sharing. You Guys know Who You are.

(add any other information about James Battles that the world doesn't know but would like to)

I have always believed since a very young age that you are only as good as your reputation and word. This means I live with the christian beliefs as my guide . I started at a young age by lending aid to people in need. I didnt mesh well with the other kids. They would call people names and be cruel ,but that to me was only a reflection of their own upbringing or lack thereof. I saved some girls from drowning once and was awarded Humanitarian awards with a friend who helped . I was 16 at the time. My friend is now a civil lawyer and I am a Bail Agent . Go figure.
I learned at a very young age that friendship had no strings attached to it. You might not see a friend for years but its like they never were gone when you do and no one owes anyone or expects anything out of it. It can be rare. I am probably richer in that department than many.
I don't know if the world would really like to know all this about me but it encompasses really who I am. It may not be popular or warranted but it covers things people might not know that are good points about myself. I see so many people along the way clearly distrustful to lend their friendship which tells me they have seen many things as well but I have had so much contact with so many people in my life sometimes I can see immediatley who these people are in terms of their humanitarian traits. It was in 1973 when I began taking people fishing at the rate of 90 per day for 6 months out of the year every year. My day started at 330am and ended at about 10pm for that 6months. I did that from 1973 until 1977 when I moved to a smaller more cutthroat business involving Charters of 6 to 15 people on a more personal basis with the customers but worse conditions with the competition and backstabbing between the boats. You had to fight for positions as deckhand and things could be rough . For instance you could lose your job to someone whom they deemed to have a better skill level simply for that reason. My faith got me through that time being complicated on who was the best deep sea fisherman versus the best sportsfisherman. I was fired once due to the reputation of a guy that just resturned to town. I was offered my job back 5 days later when he didnt show up to work being drunk two days in a row. I declined and these were character building times. I worked in a place called the front line in Destin Florida. This is where I learned to deal and recognize the better qualities in people. I settled in with jobs working for only the good people from 1976 until 1979 when I obtained my first Captians Licence. I have been Licenced ever since. I have a 500 ton Masters Licence through the USCG. I went to the oil field to work in 1979 in the winter and did so for the next 8 years but in the summers I returned and fished with which also included running some private yachts for the beautiful people that had infected Destin. Most of the ones I worked with were also hand picked in my path. My reputation preceeded me and the good ones found me.
During the summer times I fished charters with a man named John Cox who was probably one of the best natural fishermen I ever knew. We won the October Rodeo for largest Blue Marlin and in the spring the cobia tournament. We caught extraordinary fish all during my 4 years with him. I fished the Billfish Circuit after that until 1987 working for several rich folks and we won a little money during that time but I dont recommend it unless you get an owner that is willing to put his soul into it and has alot of money. The billfish circuit was sickeningly corrupt . I dont know if any of you have seen the shark hunter tournament series on TV but I have been there only in reverse.
here is a link for you. They weighed this fish first calling 475 pounds and then winks later and himhawing around it went to 350 and then 300 and then it settled at 273 and 1/2 pounds which was 1/4 a pound out of the money. I wouldnt stand for it and they loaded my fish on a tournament director boat at which time I told them I didnt buy it and when they got to the fuel dock I wanted to re-weigh it with some certified scales there. I met them at the other dock and to my disappointment they had already cut the head off and gutted the fish and cut off its tail to prevent it from being weighed. I was not happy.
Look for yourselves. the boat was 13 '9 " inside rail to inside rail

wanna see some guys thinking BS when they called the changes in the weight?

yeah the guy picking his teeth didnt go on the trip and I was told later that it was his tell playing poker or gambling on anything. He was responsible and his motive from the way I was told was vanity. He didnt want his partner who is in the photo to get into the money because he wasnt on the boat when we caught the fish. What is even sadder is we broke the line on a fish that day that was maybe 4 times bigger than that one. I doubt there would have been any questions if the line had held up. :-/
On the flip side I was a handsome youngster huh! 8-)

here is the main page for just a select few pics of fishing trips

and a main link to the boat we own now. It is more my brothers . I have been there and done that so much I just fish when he comes to town and wants to.

my main page

At the end of 1987 I went into the bonding business and over the last 18 years or so we have bonded somewhere over 5000 people out of the correctional center and guarenteed their appearance in court through disposition of the cases. I guess we havent done too bad. We are still in business. I have carried on wrestling on the side with only a short time off before about 1990.
I had a gap in there from 88 through like 90.


----Wow...great story...

thanks Mr. Battles,

Gary Roberts

James will also have the distinction of being the very first contender for the RULER OF THE NATION. Impressive history. I also learned something about not giving up. I am not sure how many people last in this sport going 2 and out for an entire year. Many would have given up by then.



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