March 9, 2013

Local arm wrestling tournament: Quinn ready for next challenge

Chris Whitfield

— Cohutta’s Seth Quinn has always been big. From his high school days on the gridiron and diamond to playing baseball at Hiwassee College in Monroe, Tenn., to his recent past as a bodybuilder, size has been an asset for Quinn.

Now, in addition to serving as the vice president of sales and marketing for American Carpet Group, Quinn is an arm wrestler.

A 1999 graduate of Dalton High School, Quinn was the 2012 Georgia state arm wrestling champion. More recently, he was the runner-up at the 2013 National Sitdown tournament. Today, he will be part of the field for the Dalton Depot Challenge.

The tournament, coordinated by Beaverdale’s Al Goss, who has been around the sport since the 1970s, will begin at the Dalton Depot restaurant, with weigh-ins at 10 a.m. and action slated to begin at 1 p.m.

For most people, the image of arm wrestling comes from the early days of ESPN, when competitions would air frequently — and perhaps the 1987 Sylvester Stallone movie “Over The Top,” in which Stallone played a truck-driving arm wrestler.

Quinn said there are many misconceptions about the sport, and one is that his size — he’s 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 255 pounds — makes him an easy favorite.

“The first thing I learned is that you never overlook anyone,” said Quinn, who is married to Coahulla Creek High School volleyball coach Jennifer Quinn. “This sport has a lot to do with technique and heart. If you think just because you are the biggest guy at the table you will win, you will find out real quickly just how wrong you are.”

Quinn tells the story of a professional arm wrestler who put $1,000 on the table in New York City and took on all comers. No one took the money, and the guy weighed less than 180 pounds. It isn’t all about strength and size.

“There is so much more technique that I ever imagined,” Quinn said.

He was introduced to the sport less than two years ago and met Goss, who became involved in the sport in 1976, when he was a police officer.

“Al has taught me so much,” said Quinn, 32. “He is the best. Al just has a passion for the sport, and I have learned so much from him.”

Goss is an accomplished arm wrestler in his own right. The pair decided on the spur of the moment to go to Virginia for the National Sitdown, and both came back with hardware. In addition to Quinn’s second-place finish, Goss was second in the masters (50 and older) division.

“Good timing and good technique are the key,” said Goss, who trains 12 other arm wrestlers around the area. “It helps to be big and strong, but you really have to know what you are doing.”

Today’s tournament will have divisions for women, novice, open and masters, and all divisions are broken down by weight class. Entries run from $15 to $25, depending on division. First through third places will be awarded in each division, and there will be a King of the Table tournament at the end of the event where the 221-plus open title winner will go up against all other divisions, with the first person to beat the open winner taking the title.

For more information, call Goss at (706) 264-0496 or Quinn at (770) 877-0330.