While we were riding the high of being on television, collecting huge prize money and hammers, and telling all our friends and family members to look out because Armwrestling is on ESPN now and is soon going to be huge, one of our most beloved leagues to ever exist in the world of American Armwrestling called it quits. How could this be? A company that was nationally the biggest name in Armwrestling competition was done? Was the support from the Armwrestling community no longer there? Was it due to the competition offering larger payouts and television exposure? Or was the task of competing against such a large entity with a seemingly endless supply of finances too daunting? We may never know. One thing we know for sure is the gravy train is over for now. No $20k payouts, no big corporate sponsors and no face time on ESPN…….. for now. Will we ever see the consistent exposure that us as Armwrestlers and athletes need to make traveling and competing at events around the country viable? The UAL may be the answer for the future and as of now looks like our only hope.
Bill Collins is the founder of the UAL and its sister company the NAP. Many Armwrestlers around the country know Bill for his commitment to traveling around to different venues and putting on some of the best competitions. Usually with the help of his son Chris Collins and his wife Ginger Collins. The UAL was the place to be for the best Armwrestlers to prove themselves. Big money tournaments, a huge following and what looked to be a television deal on the table, the UAL was full steam ahead. Co Owner, (at the time) Robert Drenk had a lot of influence in the UAL as well. Making many promises for the future of the UAL. Then came the contracts. It started with the best of the best. Michael Todd and other top level Pullers were signed to a supposedly paid contract with the UAL. Then came other top level pullers some contracts said to be “paid” and some not. Then came a snowball effect. Every other Armwrestler was running to social media to proudly announce their contracted status with the UAL. At this point it seemed like anyone and their Mom could get a contract. But what did this contract mean? For a lot of Pullers it meant a chance at a higher pay day or possibly exposure on Network Television. What the contract turned out to mean for many Armwrestlers was limitations. Whether you had a huge supermatch for money on the table or were just another Armwrestler (who more than likely would never see the main stage at the UAL competition), you were held to the same rules; meaning you could not compete in other organizations’ venues if its filmed. Then, it turned into you can’t pull at certain venues at all. The frustration and disappointment from the Armwrestling community was evident.
Well, that was the past. Like a Phoenix rises from the ashes the UAL has returned! This time with a single owner in the man Bill Collins. Some disagreements between Armwrestlers in the community and Robert Drenk may be the reasoning behind Bill taking the UAL forward on his own. Regardless, the organization that we all loved so dearly has returned with two venues already booked and a $26,000 ring on the line via an eight man tournament that is in the works, featuring Monster Michael Todd, Dave Chaffee, and Jerry Cadorette, who are already confirmed with Devon Larratt as a possibility. I recently interviewed Bill Collins to try to get more information on what the UAL has planned. Here is the interview:
Cruz: There is a lot of excitement brewing among the armwrestling community in anticipation of the Ultimate Armwrestling leagues return. Any new exciting things coming we can share with the community?
Collins: UAL has a few things that is work in progress, I don’t like exposing them until ink is on the contracts. If we can get ink the objectives it will change armwrestling.
Cruz: Looks like the first event will be in California at the LA convention center following with nationals in April. Any other events possible for 2018 that we can tease the fans with?
Collins: Jan 6-7, 2018 is the first UAL event, the Calif Sate at the LA fit expo…we hope to include a series.…
Cruz: Are there any more confirmed armwrestlers for the 8 man tournament for the UAL ring? Will there be any other rings up for grabs in the future?
Collins: The ring is part of the UAL inventory and is a one off, I told a puller UAL would put the ring for grabs, we’ll hold true, but I’m after a war and until I get it, it will stay in a safe place. The big problem with this sport is the old UAL and WAL spoiled lots of pullers and everyone what’s to get paid to Armwrestle, I don’t blame them. They want the organization to invest but it needs to work both ways. I’d like to restart the title belt and have a solid ranking system.
Cruz: Any possibility of the UAL having any international competitions?
Collins: UAL is considering having SM style matches, with possibilities of Internationals pullers, its hard enough to put on events in USA, I do have interest about being UAL affiliated…I have to get UAL self-funded before moving in that direction, the 8 man will help reach that objective if I can get the guys on the hit list.
Cruz: What are the chances of eventually seeing the UAL on network programming? Or possibly an online source to get more exposure to the athletes?
Collins: Being in many network meeting it’s like a shark tank, if WAL would of killed rating (which they did not), it would have been easy to sell a show, most people don’t understand network…Simple math a 1hr should cost avg 150k, WAL paid about 220k not including prize money etc) you get (27) 30 sec commercial spots (inventory) crappy rated gives you crappy inventory. In this case 3000k for a (1) 30 sec spot so a (1hr) show is worth about 81K. Hard to find an investor. I have a different approach, with the possibility.…
Cruz: Why is Robert Drenk no longer affiliated with the UAL?
Collins: Robert put his heart, soul and bank into the UAL, we both did and our partnership played different roles. Pullers jump ship when the grass got greener, and he realize the lack of loyalty and appreciation in this sport, as UAL was trying to do the right things, move this sport forth…He pissed off many along the way but he treated it as a business and did what he felt was best for the league.
Cruz: What do you think needs to happen for the sport of armwrestling to really grow into the mainstream of sports?
Collins: It’s been like this for years and will remain this way for a long time, unless cooperates see value, we need to get this sport in front of a millions eye over and over, a solid format so its not boring, create stories, build characters and most off all, build a fan base.
Cruz: In the past some Armwrestlers have shown concern about lengthy contracts that limit where they can and can’t pull. Does the UAL plan on once again contracting athletes in the future?
Collins: I have no intentions to have contracts, but if UAL did, it will concentrate on a selected few. If you invest in that the person, like any business protect the investment and hope for a return.
Cruz: Many pullers are very happy for the return of the UAL especially with the demise of the WAL. What do you think are the reasons they didn’t last and what does the UAL plan on doing to stay around for years to come?
Collins: This is my personal opinion, wrong guidance’s because of short term thinking, wrong format, no fan base, confusing to watch if you’re not a pullers, not spectator friendly, spent bank when you could of got the same results with 1/3 of the investment and no ROI. WAL will surface but with a different vision and format…As you know ArmWord Promotions (AWP) changed name to National Armwrestling Promotions (NAP) and has been around for many years so stainability is my advantage… I’m not greedy and I’m approachable and open minded. UAL has many objective on the table, I just need a solid team to make it happen, and that’s hard to find. UAL just partnered up with ArmTV (your the first to know) so hope this will help with UAL objectives, I’m always looking for team members.
Cruz: Are all the belts still in the hands of the champions from the past and are they still considered champion? or is there a clean slate?
Collins: The belts are scattered, I’m still trying to get a handle on them, if the belts holder elect to pull for UAL they can hold them until they get beat, if they can’t or won’t pull for UAL, I’d like to get them back as that was the agreement..…
It looks like we are in for some exciting events coming from the UAL. Could we possibly see Armwrestlers back on network television? Time will tell. We definitely owe organizers like Bill Collins a debt of gratitude for sticking with the sport and helping to continue with its growth. I know I will be attending UAL events and supporting them as much as I can so we can all continue to experience those legendary competitions that the Ultimate Armwrestling League has had in the past. Best of luck Bill Collins and we look forward to seeing what the UAL has planned next!
- By Giordano Cruz