Interview with 60-year-old Chicago arm wrestler Ed Grossman

Interview with 60-year-old Chicago arm wrestler Ed Grossman photo

I love hearing stories about Jewish athletes that aren't in the four major sports. I have covered Jewish pro wrestlers, swimmers and others, but never have I interviewed an arm wrestler.

Meet Ed Grossman, an arm wrestler from Chicago in his 60s who is just getting started in competition.

Ed Grossman photo 2

Ed Grossman with arm-wrestling world champion Vazgen Saghoyan
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 60 years of age. I am married to Lydia for over 35 years and have one daughter, Iris, who just started law school at DePaul (where I also went). I was born in St. Louis but my family moved to Chicago when I was very young. I grew up on the far north side and in Niles. I went to Niles North High School, the University of Iowa for one year and then Indiana University in Bloomington. I now live in Palos Heights. I co-founded the Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc., a not-for-profit provider of legal services to those who cannot afford a private attorney. The organization has served over 450,000 people since its founding in 1981.

2. How did you get involved in arm wrestling?

I was always pretty good at arm wrestling. I was relatively small but always had good upper-body strength. I was a gymnast in high school and did the rings, which is conducive to good arm strength.

3. Did you play high school sports?

I followed in the footsteps of my two older brothers and was on the gymnastic team at Niles North, doing the rings. I was on teams that were very accomplished but by no means was I the star of the team. We had some excellent gymnasts.

4. How do you think you will fair in the competition?

The competition will be very tough and I probably will not fare very well. The sport of arm-wrestling is pretty big in Eastern Europe and they have some amazing arm wrestlers there. I am a little banged up left handed, but hope to be pretty competitive with my right hand.

5. How can others get involved?

Anyone who wishes to get involved in a formal way with arm-wrestling can come to practices that occur in several locations in the Chicago area. The team I am on is called "Armed and Dangerous" and we usually work out on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. at the Brauerhouse in Lombard, Illinois. A couple of my teammates are amazing, but since I am over 60, there is a bit less competition. But some of them have won national championships. Anyone can join, as there is no fee, but you might have to buy the guys a pizza!

6. Is this your first experience? If not, what is it like?

In 1980 I entered an arm-wrestling competition that was world class, but just with my left hand, as my right arm was injured. I took in the top nine in my weight class. After a 35-year hiatus, I was watching TV and ESPN had on world championship arm-wrestling matches. One of the competitors was Allen Fisher, who is a few months older than me. He was highly competitive, even at his age, against much younger guys. So I figured I would give it a try. That was about two years ago. So after training with my teammates since then, I guess I am as ready as I can be.

7. Anything else we should know?

A couple of years ago I played in the World Series of Poker and that was an amazing experience. I am a licensed pilot and somewhat of an amateur magician. However, I believe I am much better at arm-wrestling than those other vocations. I guess now is my chance to see if that is true. I am very proud that I will be representing the United States of America in this competition and I feel extra motivation to do well.

Jeremy Fine photo
Jeremy Fine is currently the Associate Rabbi at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul Minnesota. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Even though Jeremy lives in Minnesota, he considers himself a Chicago guy. He loves deep dish pizza and The C... Read More

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