Bown brings home world arm wrestling title

His United States teammates are calling Bonney Lake’s Alan Bown a switch hitter.

Bown went into the World Arm Wrestling Federation’s World Arm Wrestling Championships in Venice, Italy, looking to defend his Master Men’s 90-kilogram left-handed world title, but instead walked away with the right-handed title.

It was a shocker even to the veteran, who left the sport and returned in 2008 to claim the left-handed world title. A natural right-hander, he had won both left- and right-handed titles in 2002.

“Unbelieveable,” said Bown, who was babying an injured right shoulder during the competition. “It was as big a shock to me as to anybody.”

That’s because the competition, which took place on the outskirts of Venice, didn’t start so well Sept. 9 when visions of defending his left-handed title were swept away. Bown had his hands full, finishing sixth in the 19-man class.

“I was banged up, beat up, bruised, mocked and practically left for dead,” Bown said. “I was really tough on myself.”

It didn’t help, he said, that one of the European competitors, through an interpreter, said, “Welcome to Europe, where the real competition is.”

He was tired, rattled and a bit overwhelmed. The competition drew 1,640 arm wrestlers from around the world to compete in a variety of classes and weight divisions. His trip had been made possible by Tacoma-based sponsor Woodworth and Company. His expectations were higher than when he filled in as a late-entry on the U.S. Team in December and won his title in nearby British Columbia, Canada.

Bown said his team captain pulled him aside for a pep talk, encouraging him to forget about the day’s competition, pull himself together and get ready for Day 2.

Bown said he shrugged off the jet lag, stretched his right shoulder well, got a good night’s sleep, ate a nice meal and tried not to dwell on the abysmal start to competition. Armed with a fresh perspective, he was ready for the right-handed competition.

“I came back the next day with a whole new attitude,” Bown said. Eight matches later, he was standing on the podium with a gold medal around his neck and the “The Star-Spangled Banner” playing instead of the Russian national anthem that had been a constant throughout the competition.

On his way to the right-handed title, Bown had to beat the hometown hero, an Italian named Massimo Gasparini, who finished third. The two shared similar wrestling styles, but Bown said the mighty Italian lacked hand control.

In the title battle, Bown said he had to adapt and change his technique to spar with the crowd favorite, a very likable Arne Thuen from Norway.

“Three in a row would be sweet,” he said, but admitted it would be rare.

Bown said he’s fortunate to win one title, let alone two in a row, but he’ll keep competing as long as he has a title to defend. That means come December 2010 he should be in Las Vegas defending his right-handed world championship.

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