By reader Abriel Tay
Valen Low’s life changed after he stumbled upon the professional sport of arm wrestling through the internet at age 12. Now 19 years of age, the Higher Nitec student is currently the head of the only arm wrestling club in Singapore.
What began as a simple game turned into a passion for Valen as he began arm wrestling with his primary and secondary schoolmates.
“I tried to promote arm wrestling to everyone, I arm wrestled with not only my classmates but also boys from other classes,” recalled Valen.
It was during his primary and secondary school days when he found out he was much better at the sport than his peers and started to research more about it.
Valen got into trouble for his arm wrestling as he began to arm wrestle more actively in secondary school with his peers. His upper secondary form teacher took notice and felt that his arm wrestling influence on his peers was a distraction in class.
“She wanted to send me to the principal office and ban me from arm wrestling, and almost called my dad down,” said Valen.
Yet, that did not stop Valen but instead motivated him to train even harder in the sport. He continued to arm wrestle discreetly in-between lessons where there was free time.
Valen’s competitive arm wrestling career began when Dave Hum Yien How, 45, stumbled upon an article that The Straits Times published on Valen and arm wrestling. Dave contacted Valen and said that he was also interested in arm wrestling and would like to meet up with Valen. Dave then decided to purchase an imported arm wrestling table to be placed at Valen’s house to help the young arm wrestler pursue his ambition to wrestle internationally.
Dave added: “I appreciate his passion and strong will to succeed and therefore bought an additional table as a gift to help him to start pursuing his ambition. I trust that he has great potential to be an international elite arm-wrestler.”
Soon after his GCE ‘O’ level examinations, Valen went to Malacca, Malaysia to compete in his first arm wrestling competition on December 20, 2010. Valen was already training before the competition began and used the competition as a gauge of where he stood in Malaysia where the arm wrestling community was much larger.
Going to Malacca to compete was not an easy task for a student who held no part-time job. Valen had to save up his allowance given by his parents to fund his trip. The trip taught him an important lesson on overcoming future obstacles ahead.
Valen was slightly nervous but confident he would beat his opponents during the competition. He was eventually knocked out in the quarter-finals in the men’s above 75-kilograms category.
From there, Valen continued training harder and competed in various competitions in Malaysia. With each competition that he took home prize money, Valen used it to fund his trip for the next competition.
The trainings paid off as he won numerous Malaysian competitions competing in the juniors’ category in 2011 and even managed to secure fourth position in the Men’s above 85kg in the Ipoh Metro arm wrestling competition at the age of 17.
On November 20, 2011, Valen won his first Men’s category competition in the above 75kg of the Johor Overtime arm wrestling competition.
Juniors to Men’s
In 2012, Valen felt he was a much stronger and experienced arm wrestler after competing in many competitions over the last year. It was also a transition year for him as he could no longer take part in the juniors’ category. The arm wrestler was fairly new to the men’s category but managed to bag five first-place finishes over the course of 2012, triumphing over his Malaysian counterparts.
There was once where Valen had to cut for a competition in order to take part in the Men’s 75-85kg weight category. Although he was not someone who adhered to a strict diet, he made sacrifices with the competition in a week’s time. He would have a tomato and canned tuna as his meal but not skimp on water as he did not want to be dehydrated. He managed to lose a kilogram in that week and eventually emerged victorious in the Mersing Metro arm wrestling competition.
The determined arm wrestler hopes that his achievements will one day be recognised by the sports organisations in Singapore. When he first started out, Valen tried contacting Singapore Sports Council regarding arm wrestling.
“Around 2010, early 2011, I sent an email to the Sports Council regarding arm wrestling and (suggested) making it a sport or like a hobby, at a community level. They rejected me and said that it is not a popular sport in the region (and) therefore they cannot fund arm wrestling or start a club or something to make arm wrestling an officially recognised sport in Singapore,” said Valen.
He had hoped that the Sports Council would consider his proposal or contact him so they could unearth more sporting talents in the country.
Valen missed out on the World Championships in 2011 and 2012 held in Kazakhstan and Brazil respectively simply because he lacked funds. He wanted to compete in the championships so he could learn from the European arm wrestlers and gain experience in the sport.
After missing out on the chance to compete, Valen is determined to travel to the World Championships one day order to compete alongside the best arm wrestlers in the world and beat them.
The head of Singapore’s arm wrestling club now trains up to four times a week in the gym, focusing on pulling, pushing and arm wrestling-specific movements. He also trains on the arm wrestling table with his club mates two to three times a week.
Valen plans to get better in arm wrestling and compete in other countries. His biggest dream is to win the World Arm wrestling Championship one day.
Although arm wrestling is not popular, Valen feels that it should be enjoyed by many and hopes one day, people all over the world will recognise arm wrestling as not just a hobby but a professional sport.