We All Have Our Heroes — Some of Us Get To Hang Out With Them
I moved to Prince George in the early 90’s, wanted to arm wrestle and was told to touch base with Vern Martel, the owner of Awesome Tan. He told me to come and train with him and the team from PG and this started the bond with all the arm wrestlers from the PG club.
I met Vern 3 decades ago and our friendship has grown slowly, but steadily and now I can say that Vern is a “hero in my eyes”.
The Story Behind How I Befriended Vern Martel Goes Like This
Prior to Vern's accident — when he was very young — he had won the WAF World Armwrestling Championships. Shortly after winning this title, he was the unfortunate victim of an an auto accident, where he was hospitalised for close to two-years and in that time, had multiple surgeries and lost the use of his left arm.
Having the use of only one arm, instead of taking on a new sport and giving up arm wrestling, like most people would do, his passion and drive continued. Because of my own life story, I knew the difficulty he must have face. Through having to re-learn how to function and live with one arm which would be difficult in itself, but more than a decade later (from what I remember) after absolute dedication, hard training and drive, Vern did the impossible; he won the world championships again — this time with only with one arm!
To Me, Vern Did The impossible.
I have tried to arm wrestle without holding the peg with my other arm and it is very difficult. I cannot do this and the result would be that I would lose. What it came down to is that Vern developed the strength and muscle groups required to arm wrestle without holding the peg, and through this, he has turned the impossible into possible.
If this hurdle wasn’t enough, in 2015 Vern was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I hosted the 2015 Canadian Championships in Vancouver BC, Canada and Vern postponed medical attention so that he could compete at these championships. Vern was given a short time to live but being the warrier he is, turned months into being alive for over 7 years and many more to come. Vern has overcome some amazing things in his life but this is truly amazing.
A Truly Great Man
I have always known Vern to be an authentic, genuine and great man that I have the honour of being friends with. We have only competed a few times due to me being in a heavier weight class but I have never beaten Vern in an arm wrestle... well, only once when he was sick many years ago. When Vern was in his prime, he could beat a man of any weight or of any size. Vern has developed the strength required to arm wrestle without holding the peg and has turned the impossible into reality.
I have known and arm wrestled with Vern for almost 30-years. He has always given me motivation and have always looked up to his strength-of-spirit and ability to turn a loss into a win.. I was able to train with Vern for many years when I was in his hometown of Prince George BC, Canada.
I will never forget one day a couple years ago, four of us were sitting at a table. Chatrinya & Clayton on one side, Dave Hicks & Vern Martel on the other. I looked across the table and said that I was honoured to be sitting with two of the best arm wrestlers in the world. Vern told me that he was proud of what I have come back from and what I've done in my life to overcome hurdles. I was very honoured and will never forget this.
Documentary vs. Real Life
I watched a documentary on Vern a year ago and was disappointed in it because it did not tell people how Vern is an inspiration to so many. I am proud to write good things about Vern and can hopefully tell people a better story.
If it says anything about him and the respect he deservs — from not only being a pioneer in the sport of Arm Wresting, but for being a champion and inspiration — the BC provincial championships in 2022 are dedicated to him. Read the Prince George Citizen News Article