Rotorua's Maateiwarangi Heta-Morris used to arm-wrestle at a local pub for drinks. This June he will compete in Las Vegas at the one of the world's biggest arm wrestling championships. Ruth Dacey caught up with "the Beast" for a quick-fire Q & A.
How did you get into arm-wrestling?
At school I did some arm-wrestling on the green rubbish bins, but I didn't even know what proper arm-wrestling was. It all then started at Sidepocket bar when I was 23. I was doing it for a bit of fun and for drinks mainly. The wins came easy to me and the drinks rolled in.
Then one day someone mentioned I should try out with the Sons of Sampson arm-wrestling team in Auckland. I was keen and headed along to the training sessions and straight away I knew it was the sport I wanted to go far in.
Describe a typical training workout.
I train six days a week, twice a day for about two hours in total. My training is mainly a lot of heavy lifting of weights at the moment. A set I regularly do is five reps 200kg on a bench press, 10 reps of 100kg for the arm curl and 240 kg with 10 shoulder reps. I've started mixing things up by throwing some lighter weights in there which will hopefully increase stamina.
You've won many titles already including the New Zealand Championships -what is your most prized title?
It has to be my recent win over Kiwi Ben Carrol [at the 2017 Arnold Classic and Oceania arm-wrestling championships in Australia]. I put so much in the last year to prepare for this competition. I sacrificed a lot and trained more than I ever had for it. I came fourth in it last year while Ben won - so it meant so much. Also that meant I qualified for Las Vegas - you don't get any bigger than that.
How much of an achievement is it to compete in Las Vegas?
For me I feel this is something more than a dream. It's something very special to carry the country on my back and represent New Zealand. I'm pretty excited, it's definitely something I never thought I would achieve in my life. I never thought I would travel the world with arm-wrestling.
I need to raise around $15,000 to go - a lot of that will be to actually get the plane across. The seat will be expensive because I find it very difficult to fit in economy class because of my size. I travelled over to Europe a couple of years ago and I couldn't even properly sit down - I was wretched after that flight for quite a while.
Do you have any special rituals before a competition?
The day before I always give money to a homeless person, I give everything I happen to have in my pockets that day. I don't know when I started doing it, it just happened.
I'm a big believer in karma but I'm also a big believer in helping people. I don't give them money to use karma in hopes it would bring good my way because that sort of defeats the purpose of giving. I give it to help first and foremost. Whatever karma wants to do about that is out of my control.
I also like to listen to Tech N9ne [American rapper] before I compete to pump me up and before I go to the table I look up and picture my grandparents watching me.
If you could choose anyone to arm-wrestle against, who would it be and why?
It has to be American John Brzenk - he smoked me back in Melbourne in 2013. He's definitely the best in the world. I'd probably lose but hey I'd like another shot at least at some stage.
What would your life be like without arm-wrestling?
I can't even comprehend what my life would be like. My two passions in life is this sport and my two children. Some people don't get it but arm-wrestling is so great because it's different. You have to be physically and mentally strong and when you walk out there yourself it's all on you.
Follow Maateiwarangi Heta-Morris' progress here
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