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NEXT Sport: XARM

11/20/2008

It's happened to all of us. You're sitting in your living room, watching Over the Top for the twenty-sixth time, and you start to wonder, why doesn't Stallone just crack that pudgy dope with the fu manchu in the side of the head with his free hand? Surely that would win him the respect of his estranged son. But he can't, friends. Such violence was frowned upon in the realm of legit arm wrestling—until now.

The XARM fighting league combines the intimate distance of arm wrestling with the strikes, holds and general disregard for personal well-being of mixed martial arts. The results are, in a word, awesome.

"They've got arm wrestling on tombs in Egypt that go back almost 4000 years," XARM CEO, and UFC fore-father, Art Davie says of the inspiration behind the sport. "Arm wrestling is something young guys compete at as much as anything else that they might test their manhood with, and it's something that hadn't been expanded on, quite frankly, at all."

In cooperation with Piranha Entertainment, a digital content development company, Davie designed XARM with the mobile video platform in mind.

"My idea was a short-form entertainment that would work very well on a Blackberry," he says. "Boxing and mixed martial arts and professional wrestling take place in an arena that goes from 20 to 40 feet in size. With arm wrestling, I knew I'd be doing this on a table that would be less than three feet in diameter."

But the fact that XARM tourneys will look sweet on your iPod isn't the only reason it's a sport for a new digital age. Fighters' gloves are also wired with sensors that keep a running tally of punches landed and display just how hard they're hitting, which, judging from the clip, is pretty freaking hard.

In a typical bout, the combatants, who come from a variety of martial arts backgrounds, are tethered to a table to compete in three, one-minute rounds. A winner is determined by clean KO, TKO or decision, in which judges award up to 10 points in three distinct areas of performance: effective aggressiveness (scoring clean strikes), arm wrestling pins and table generalship (who controls the bout).

The league will crown its heavyweight champion on Dec. 17 after a month-long tournament, highlights of which you can check out on the XARM website. From there, Davies hopes to host six to eight events in 2009 in five different weight classes, from lightweight to superheavyweight.

But until the league is given the OK by state athletic commissions, XARM will be featured largely in Indian casinos in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. As Davie will tell you, it's not easy getting a radical sport off the ground.

"The biggest challenge I've had in promoting a new sport is the same one that I had when I wrote the business plan for ultimate fighting back in '93," he says. "You know, you go to people and you show it to them and they go, "Well, this has never been done before, this will never work."

We've got a feeling this one will pan out. The only question is, how long before Kimbo Slice is named "The next big thing in extreme arm wrestling"?