• Ilona Andrew

GETTING MALAYSIA INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN: A SABAHAN ARMWRESTLER'S JOURNEY


Calveen Petrus

16 July 2021

By Ilona Andrew


PENAMPANG: Many people have rough ideas about armwrestling – some people think it is mere entertainment and not a legit sport, and this is where international arm wrestler from Sabah Calveen Petrus comes in to prove them wrong.


The 29-year-old has spent 13 years of blood, sweat and tears to get to where he is today. Currently, he is ranked 16 in the super heavyweight category of the Unified Rating of Professional Armwrestling.


In armwrestling, two opponents face each other with their hands firmly gripped together in an attempt to force the opponent’s hand down to the tabletop. This sport requires technique and overall arm strength.


Calveen realised that he possessed such strength when he managed to defeat his other friends easily as they arm-wrestled against each other for fun back in school.

As a naturally competitive teenager who liked strength sports, he would go to the gym and lift dumbbells without any proper knowledge of the exercise.


However, he found his calling in armwrestling at an early age of 16 when he met his friend’s tuition teacher who was then actively involved in the sport.


Although he had always won against his friends, it wowed him to work out that the sport was actually more than just forcing an opponent’s hand down.


“I tried armwrestling with that tuition teacher, and the feeling was next-level. That’s when I found out that it is a legit sport that requires real strength and techniques.


“Since then, I met the teacher every week to learn more about the movements. A year later, I managed to defeat him,” he told Nabalu News during an exclusive interview at his private gym studio near his residence, recently.

After learning several techniques, Calveen joined his first local armwrestling competition during the Kaamatan Festival in 2008. While he didn’t win anything, he got to make friends with other local armwrestlers.


At the end of 2009, he won a podium in a professional level which kickstarted his professional armwrestling career.


Unfortunately, he took a two-year break from armwrestling as he was pursuing higher education. Even so, his endearment on the sport never faded.


“I rejoined armwrestling after I started working and in 2013, I found myself participating and winning in armwrestling contests which led me to my first national championship in early 2015.


“I represented Sabah in that championship for the first time and fortunately, I won in the heavyweight category. I was 85kg then,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of Calveen Petrus

“And then, I got selected to compete in a world championship the same year. That was when I met other international armwrestlers from different countries such as Ukraine, Russia and even the whole Asia.


“As it was my first international competition, I didn’t have my hopes high, but it turned out okay because I was placed 22nd out of 26,” he said, adding that to date, he had partaken in more than 10 international championships.


His first international tournament overseas was in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was supposed to join a competition in Bulgaria but had to cancel the intention as the world faces health crisis.


“It is one of my top priorities to get Malaysia internationally known in the armwrestling industry.


“For me, Malaysian armwrestlers have the potential just as much as everyone else but they need a bigger nudge and more exposure,” he implied.

Photo Courtesy of Calveen Petrus

Calveen who is also the president of Penampang Armwrestling Club revealed that while he has won many first places throughout the years, his biggest victory was in the 2019 Premier 101 Sarawak Open Armwrestling Championship.


“I managed to defeat one of Britain’s best armwrestlers, Paul Maiden, in the super heavyweight category. He was the former champion of world’s armwrestling and is currently the best British armwrestler.


“In the same year, I managed to dethrone the then Malaysia’s number one puller Joffrey Jolly who is also a fellow Sabahan, specifically from Telipok.”


Besides training, fixing his macronutrient and supplement intake to ensure that he is in his best shape before a competition, he would use his imagination, of what he calls his secret weapon of success, to help pump up his motivation.


He also disclosed that he would research about his opponents as much as he could to find out about their strengths and weaknesses.

Calveen during an interview session with Nabalu News.

GETTI


“I managed to topple Singapore’s number one puller Valen Low as well as Australian puller Murray McKay, both with similar scores of 3-0,” he chimed in.


Although physical contact sports such as armwrestling is disallowed due to the pandemic, Calveen has never lost his determination and spirit to continue training as hard as he can.


However, he can only focus on weight training for now as physical sparring is temporarily suspended in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.


He has also been keeping in touch with his fellow armwrestler friends and hopes to catch up with them after Covid-19 gets under control.

Photo Courtesy of Calveen Petrus.

“I was supposed to compete in the armwrestling classic championship in Australia early last year, but as I submitted my visa it got rejected due to fear of lockdown implementation in the country when Covid-19 first hit,” he said, adding that he has not joined any competition eversince.


Nevertheless, he expressed high hopes that Covid-19 would soon be gone so that he could participate in an armwrestling world championship and Zloty Tur Armwrestling World Cup which will be held in Florida, USA this year.


But until then, Calveen will continue working as a personal trainer in general fitness and a certified national coach for the Malaysian Armwrestling Association (MyArms).


In Malaysia, there are only three certified MyArms coaches – two in Sabah (including Calveen) and one in the Peninsular.


he said the younger generation who are interested to b involved in the sport is lucky as it evolves throughout the year with more advanced equipment.


He said, there is no criteria set for those who want to join the sport, as long as they are physically healthy. At the moment, his youngest trainee is a 14-year-old.


At 178cm tall and currently weighing 105kg, Calveen mentioned that his physique, especially his muscular biceps, would always become the centre of public attention.


People would go to him and immediately assume that he is a bodybuilder, some would even question how he manages to be in good physical shape with well-developed muscles while touching his biceps in awe.


“But I admit, I like the attention,” he said, half-jokingly.


Currently, Calveen is under the management of IMC Sports and Entertainment. The company is a seasoned global consultancy in partnership and sponsorship architecture, evaluation, and sales representation for leading sports and entertainment sponsors and rights-holders.


He also provides an online coaching service. Those who are interested can go to https://www.musclefactorytribe.com/training for more information.