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Pull down that squirt?" the Water Buffalo in the biker jacket asks with a sneer. "No problem."
Buffalo is bulging with muscle power as he strips off the jacket and faces willowy Dave Patton at LT's sports bar in East Rutherford, N.J. It's a big, easy saloon that reminds you of Cheers, except that there aren't many women around. The only one in hoisting distance is Patton's beehived mother, Sue.
Buffalo plunks his beer down and plants his right arm—the one tattooed with the word HATE—on the small steel table. He grips a peg on the table with his left hand, which has a tattoo of a panther with a dagger through its head. The two men trade hard stares. Pivoting their left shoulders away from the table for leverage, they clasp hands and strain.
"Pull back, Dave!" shouts Sue.
Faces convulse, muscles gorge. Patton applies a top roll—sliding his hand over Buffalo's fingers, stretching them.
"Down, down, down!" Sue chants.
Patton remains calm. Buffalo, snorting and grunting, looks as if he would be more comfortable on all fours. He watches helplessly as Patton slams his fist from proud vertical to abject horizontal.
"Way to go, Dave!"
Buffalo finishes his beer, puts on his jacket and checks out. Sue asks, "Anyone else want to take on the squirt?"
At 5'10" and 158 pounds, Patton is considered the best pound-for-pound arm wrestler in the world. The 30-year-old electrical engineer has won 35 world titles, in arm wrestling or wrist wrestling. "No one has beaten him in a tournament since 1985," says Sue, who's something of an expert on arms control. She has trained seven world champions, including Dave's younger brother, Ray. And though her husband, Archie, doesn't grapple, he did come up with the computerized scorecard used in tournaments.