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12/9/03
ARMED FOR VICTORY

UAW member stays unbeaten to grab world arm wrestling title

By Ron Russell

By Ron Russell
NTC Communications

MARYSVILLE, Mich. – When it comes to arm wrestling, Cheri Jo Fiebig is world class.


PHOTO: Derrick Froehlich
Cheri Jo Fiebig has won 11 world arm wrestling titles.

A UAW Local 375 member, Fiebig remained undefeated as she captured the Gold Medal in her weight class last week at the 2003 World Armwrestling Championships in Ottawa, Ont.

The parts handler at DaimlerChrysler’s Marysville National Parts Distribution Center defeated a Russian opponent in the Women’s Middle Heavyweight Division to win her 11th world title in a career spanning more than two decades.

"I’ve proven that you can pull when you’re young and you can pull when you’re older – age is not a factor in this sport," the 42-year-old Fiebig said Tuesday. "It’s all about whether you want to be successful or not, whether you believe in yourself."


A virtual herd of "zebras" referees the competition.

Sponsored by Local 375, Fiebig competed for Team USA in the world’s premier arm wrestling tournament that attracted male and female competitors from 56 countries. The U.S. team finished third, trailing first-place Russia and runner-up Canada.

The World Armwrestling Federation sanctioned the 25th anniversary event.

It took Fiebig about 1 minute and 30 seconds to get a grip on her world championship in the Master’s Division, defeating Russian challenger Zinaida Kubalova in the last match. She overpowered 15 other women to reach the finals in her weight class of 155-180 pounds for right-handed wrestlers.


PHOTO: Derrick Froehlich
It takes arms, and nerves, of steel.

Fiebig, who also holds 11 national arm wrestling titles, said her latest victory has special meaning. "I surprised myself by hanging in there; it was a tough match," she said.

The 5-foot-6-inch Fiebig has never lost a tournament match, earning every title in women’s arm sports, including wrist wrestling (similar sport, different grip). She’s the first female to set a record for the most pulls – most arms wrestled – in a national competition. She wrestled 21 women in a day.

Along the way, she’s been interviewed on radio and TV – NBC, ESPN, ABC Wide World of Sports – and has competed in Brazil, India, Germany and across the United States.

Describing herself as a "natural" for arm wrestling, Fiebig has the arms as well as nerves of steel required to dominate the competition.


Women compete in several weight classes.

"You have to be strong, explosive and have the right mindset," she explained. "If you don’t have all three, you have no business being in the sport."

Fiebig said she has considered retiring from competitive arm wrestling, but has no plans to do so in the near future. "I’ll keep on going until I lose," she said.

If her performance in the latest World Championships is an indication, Fiebig’s foes shouldn’t plan on muscling their way to the top any time soon.

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