The History of Armwrestling in British Columbia

The BC Wristwrestling Association was started in 1976 by Keith Koenig following his participation in the famed wristwrestling tournaments in Petaluma, California from 1971 - 1975. Looking to promote this sport in his home province, he built a table, advertised on the radio and drove to various cities to host regional events (at times as often as every couple weeks). The very first tournament that Keith hosted was in Osoyoos, during the 1976 Cherry Festival. In that same year he organized and ran the inaugural Canadian Wristwrestling Championship in Kelowna. The following year (1977), he staged BC's first provincial championship during the Kelowna Regatta. He competed in this tournament until 1981 but after, shifted his focus to organizational and referee duties. Since these early years, Keith has held events in Kelowna, Summerland, Osoyoos, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Penticton, Oliver, Kamloops, Campbell River, Prince George, Trail, 100 Mile House, 103 Mile House, Lac La Hache, Prince Rupert, Burnaby, Abbotsford, many smaller cities (as well as Red Deer and Calgary in Alberta). Both the BC Provincials and Okanagan Valley Championship have been run continuously since 1977 and are among the longest-running armwrestling tournaments in North America.


Keith hosted the “Canadian Wristwrestling Championship” from 1976 to 1993. Meanwhile, the Canadian Armwrestling Association (CAWA) hosted the “Canadian Armwrestling Championship” from 1978 to 1993. Given the two organizations joint goals in growing the sport, at the 1993 CAWA National Championships in Saskatchewan, Keith and CAWA President Fred Roy agreed that it would be better to unify the organizations and have one national-level tournament. Since this agreement, BC Wristwrestling Association became the BC Armwrestling Association and the Canadian Armwrestling Association changed their name to the Canadian Armwrestling Federation (CAWF). The CAWF has held the only national tournament annually ever since.


Keith’s accomplishments include the following:

- Hosted the two longest-running annual tournaments in Canada (43 years in a row - 1976-2018)

- Hosted the Canadian Wristwrestling Championship 19 times (1976-1994)

- Hosted the Canadian Armwrestling Championship 3 times (1997, 2000, 2006)

- Hosted the WAF World Championship (2008)

- Won 3 Canadian Titles

- Became a Master Referee

- Was the first Canadian to take a team to Russia

- Held the position of CAWF Vice President (1993-2008)

- Holds the position of BC Armwrestling Association President for 43 years (1976-2018)

- John Miazdzyk Award Recipient (2000)

- Inducted into the BC Armwrestling Association Hall of Fame (2011)

- Inducted into the Canadian Armwrestling Federation Hall of Fame (2010) 


Besides Keith, there have been other promoters in BC such as Andy Elliott who put on many events between 1979 - 1982. Also BC hosted the 2012 Nationals in Richmond run by Anthony Dall'Antonia as well as the 2015 Nationals in Vancouver run by Clayton Faulconer. These days there are also events that pop up hosted by armwrestling clubs in Campbell River, Vancouver, Kamloops, Cranbrook and Creston. Keith plans on staying active with his two annual events as long as possible.