In every middle school cafeteria in America, there’s probably one boy who beats all his classmates in arm wrestling. Three decades ago in Central, it was Craig Tullier.
Most boys outgrow such things. But Tullier kept arm wrestling — and kept beating everybody in sight.
At 45, Tullier is still taking on some of the strongest arms in the world. Thursday night, the world can watch him do it.
Tullier is one of the featured performers in the World Armwrestling League’s Supermatch Showdown Series event in Baltimore, Maryland, an event that can be viewed on Turner Sports’ new digital platform, B/R Live. It’s the second of five regional events that leads to the World Armwrestling League's championship in September.
Over the years, Tullier has won seven world titles and 33 national titles, and he remains one of the league's top two middleweights despite much of the competition being considerably younger.
“As long as I stay healthy and don’t have a rough injury to overcome, I feel like I could definitely be dominant for another 10 or 15 years,” said Tullier, who has spent most of his adult life in Denham Springs and has lived in Lake Charles for almost four years as construction manager on a refinery project. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been now.”
That is the result of an incredible workout regimen and good medical care. Having decided to pursue the sport while still in high school, Tullier eventually built equipment in his backyard to help him build strength in his arms, forearms and shoulders. It included a long 2-by-12 board positioned above him on which he would move gripping it with only his fingertips.
He’s since graduated to equipment that rock climbers use, as well as a lot of time in the gym. Using a “preacher bench” that prevents him from using momentum to his advantage, Tullier said he hammer curls 175 pounds “fairly easy.” He also is part of an arm-wrestling team whose members practice against each other for hours at a time at least once a week.
Having already had surgeries on his shoulder and to relocate his right arm’s ulnar nerve (one of the arm's major nerves) in 2007, Tullier began experiencing popping and clicking in his right elbow a year and a half ago. Arthroscopic surgery cleaned out 27 bone spurs and four fragments that were floating in the joint. That allowed him to regain his strength and endurance, Tullier said. Although he competes with both arms, he is most successful from the right side.
“I’m about 5 percent body fat and I’m 195 pounds,” Tullier said. “The big thing about me is I’ve been blessed with a very, very, very, very fast metabolism. I can eat a lot and I don’t gain fat, but it is hard to gain weight for me. I’ve always been competing against heavier guys.”
Although it may have been the case when he in middle school, arm wrestling is about more than strength at Tullier's level. Arm wrestlers compete at a table with a peg on each end which they use for leverage, and a 7-inch square pad where their elbow must remain.
To stay near the top of his sport, Tullier said he has learned multiple techniques to keep opponents guessing. Quickness and strength are as important as strength, he said.
“I’m very, very competitive,” Tullier said. “I’m like that in everything I’ve ever done. I strive to be the best at whatever I do.”