Greensboro Arm Wrestling League Takes a Strong Hold of Powers to Create Good in the Community

It all started with a simple thought co-founder Rachel Scott had. She began recruiting others who shared the same philanthropic spirit she has for helping women of all ages. Amongst those she recruited were co-founders Amanda Lehmert and Meagan Albert. GRAWL—the Greensboro Arm Wrestling League—was born. There was “never any consideration for this to be a for-profit enterprise,” Amanda says, but instead meant to be “women pooling our powers to create good in our community.” The mission is to help the community through progressively entertaining theatrical events, centering around raising money for nonprofits, with a special interest in those that serve women and girls. 

GRAWL is made possible from an all-volunteer staff. From the wrestlers to the entourage, to the photographer and DJ, no one is compensated; not even the event venue, Gibbs Hundred Brewing, which hosts the events for free. Owner Mark Gibb even volunteers to do GRAWL outreach, as well as donating a portion of profits from beer sales when you mention you’re with the foundation. Partners like Mark allow for GRAWL to maximize its donations to the nonprofits. In its 2016 year, the organization paired with the Interactive Resource Center, the Women’s Resource Center and Greensboro YWCA. In 2017, GRAWL partnered with My Sister Susan’s House, I Am a Queen and the Greensboro Mural Project. In 2018, the league partnered with the Kellin Foundation, the ARC of Greensboro and QORDS; and with 2019 already well underway, GRAWL had its first event of the year, Cupid’s Revenge on Feb. 16, and raised $4,185 for the Guilford Green LGBTQ Center. 

Prior to any event, personas are created that correlate with the chosen theme. Wrestlers such as Hellary Rotten Clinton and Donna Trump made appearances during a politically themed event, and Apro-Bite-Me arrived via clamshell during February’s Cupid’s Revenge. To complete the personas, wrestlers utilize costumes with special hair and makeup, along with an entourage to push merchandise and help with gimmicks. The goal of it all is to create the best show possible, allowing the audience members an unforgettable experience while raising money for great causes.

During each event, women from an eight-person bracket participate in three rounds of competition. The first-round lineup is decided by the wrestler managers. The managers purposely pit personas against each other that they believe would create the most entertaining show. Each round has best two out of three bouts consisting of right arm, left arm, right arm scenarios—unless there is a left-handed wrestler in which case, a coin is flipped. Should a wrestler lose a round and raise $75 from the crowd, they are able to get back in the competition. They can do so by participating in either a lip-sync battle, dance-off or tug-of-war game. These same competitions are also used in stalemates. Stalemates occur whenever a clear winner cannot be determined after a rounds’ three bouts. These shows are equal parts athletic competition and sideshow in order to maximize experience and fundraising.

GRAWL raises money through online donations, event tickets and GRAWLbux. Each wrestler has an online fundraising goal of $100, and with eight wrestlers per event, that’s $800 being raised before the event even begins! Event tickets can be purchased in advance for $7 or at the door for $10. Once inside, audience members can exchange cash for GRAWLbux, fake money that can be used to tip their favorite wrestlers, buy merchandise, vote and bribe judges. Everything done is done in good fun for the benefit of the nonprofit GRAWL has partnered with. 

With the animated, larger-than-life personalities and overall entertainment factor, GRAWL is a family-friendly event that comes with a disclaimer: the show’s content is roughly PG-13 because of the occasional suggestive dancing or adult theme. That being said, most times the suggestive undertones go unnoticed by any children in attendance.

GRAWL is an open-door organization welcoming and accepting volunteers from any race, nation, sexual orientation or gender identity. Regardless of physical ability or lack thereof, “no matter how you do, you’re winning,” a comment made by a volunteer at the new wrestler orientation. In every word spoken, co-founder Amanda “preaches the gospel of GRAWL,” her husband says. Apart from the photo shoots, dress rehearsals and main events themselves, safety training is also provided. Arm wrestling has its risks, and the GRAWL leadership team does its best to teach proper technique as they would like to remain a break-free league.

GRAWL is still in its early years, and the organization is still growing. Its short-term goal is to break the $40,000 fundraising milestone, a milestone the members hope to surpass at the upcoming GRAWL Brawl. GRAWL Brawl XI: Prom Season is being held at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing May 11 at 7 p.m. The GRAWL Prom is partnered with NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program, a week-long summer program for upper-level high school students. The ANYTOWN program provides the upperclassmen with the opportunity to build a diverse community based on respect and understanding. GRAWL Brawl XII: Country Queens will partner with She Rocks of the Triad, a nonprofit that supports ovarian cancer awareness, in Greensboro on Oct. 12.

As GRAWL continues to expand, its leadership members hope to partner with other leagues as well as help new leagues form, while continuing the fundraising effort for nonprofits, especially those serving women and girls.