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Thursday, December 18, 2014

No Holds Barred: Steve Kaplan on World Armwrestling League and ESPN 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Steve Kaplan, the president and commissioner of the World Armwrestling League (WAL).

It was announced earlier this month that ESPN in the U.S. has reached an agreement with WAL for exclusive rights to televise the 2014 World Armwrestling League Championship and the 2015 World Armwrestling League season. More details will be announced shortly, including the dates and times WAL events will be available on television and online.

The next WAL event will take place Saturday, January 10, 2015, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

We spoke with Steve Kaplan by phone Tuesday.

Known as a business leader with many interests and accomplishments, he explained why he was attracted to the sport of arm wrestling.

"It is controlled aggression. It is intense. It is high testosterone," he said. "It's all about the combination of the physical and the psychological. And it's matching speed, technique, and power, and utilizing them in a short burst of a time frame to really excel in this sport."

Unlike contact and combat sports, he added, "It allows you to get all that done without the risks of life and limb. And it's really an impressive thing by that."

When arm wrestling was featured on the reality TV show "Game of Arms" earlier this year on the AMC network, he also saw the potential of this sport on television. AMC originally announced that there would be a second season of "Game of Arms", but then reversed course and announced that the network would no longer develop unscripted shows, thus cancelling a second season.

By then, WAL had started running live events, and they went to ESPN, which led to the current agreement.

We also discussed more on the sport of arm wrestling, the appeal of watching these professional and elite athletes, the plans for running numerous events across the U.S. in 2015, the profit-sharing of WAL with their athletes, why "this should be a major sport", plans for PED testing, and much, much more.

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