Ryan Espey participated in his first arm-wrestling match, in almost half a year, earlier this month.
Espey competed in Las Vegas in the Professional Arm Wrestling League and entered the matchup as the number two ranked left-handed wrestler in North America, among super heavyweights. Espey outlines how his night went.
"I was competing against the number five ranked left-handed arm wrestler in North America in the super heavyweight division," Espey explains. "It was a rankings match, and it was one of my first big super matches back since I was injured in October. I won it fairly handily."
The Portager says he was fairly nervous going into the contest but adds it was relieving to get the win in the fashion that he did. Espey talks about his rehab from injury.
"It's pretty interesting because it was my right arm that got injured, and it was a pretty devastating injury. I completely tore my common tendon in my right wrist flexor, where it attaches at the elbow. There was no surgery done, and while I'm not in any pain, my right arm is still not close to being in competition shape," Espey continues. "I started training my left arm when I got back from that event in October. I've always been known as a left-arm guy, and now this has helped make my left arm extra strong."
Espey says the match in Las Vegas was a good first step on his quest to regain the number one ranking. He outlines what is next in that journey.
"I'm competing in one more big match before I go against the number one guy," says Espey. "Next month in Dallas, Texas, I'm competing against Corey West, who I believe is ranked around number seven. In this case, I think Corey is probably better than his ranking would indicate. He is the protege of the guy I beat in Vegas, so there could be an interesting marketing story there. If I get past him, I'm hoping in June or July, I end up with a match against Kody Merritt, who is ranked number one. I've actually never been pinned by him."
He beat Merritt at the 2018 World Championships and in the World Arm Wrestling League Finals prior to that.
2022 marks the 25th year that Espey has been arm-wrestling at the pro level, and he notes his drive is still very high. The local outlines what keeps him motivated to continue after so many years.
"It's the ebbs and flows," says Espey. "If I was able to stay at the top for a meaningful amount of time, maybe the drive would go away a little bit. But the fact that you get there for a minute, and then you're knocked right back down. It's the journey of getting back to the top that keeps you going."