Putting her best arm forward

Mirline Berrouet has laser focus – when she sets a goal, she works toward it.

And her latest goal is to be the world champion of arm wrestling.

To that end, the 21-year-old from South Ozone Park will compete in the 32nd Annual White Castle NYC Big Apple Grapple International Arm Wrestling Championships on Saturday, April 18 at the Jacob K. Javits Center.

That is, if the 14-time arm wrestling champion and current New York State title- holder can make it.

She has a softball game earlier that morning with her church team.

Still, despite her other commitment, it seems that Berrouet prefers arm wrestling.

“In other sports you are dependent on a team,” she explained. “With arm wrestling, you know your strengths and weaknesses.”

And, she said succinctly, “There’s no one else I can blame should I lose.”

But, losing is not on her agenda, it seems.

To prepare for a match, she works out three times a week, doing cardio and light strength training.

“I just try to keep in general shape,” she said modestly.

She also challenges men, according to Gene Camp, President and Founder of the New York Arm Wrestling® Association (NYAWA).

“She’s an excellent arm wrestler,” he said of Berrouet, whose love of the sport began as a junior in high school, when she joined an after school program started by her chemistry teacher.

“She’s been doing very well. When she gets up there she’s pretty fierce.”

“I was mostly into volleyball and soccer – I hadn’t thought about it [arm wrestling],” she said.

But now she feels like part of a family.

“Team New York [on which she competes in out-of-state matches] is like a family – even if I’m one of the only girls, it’s like having a bunch of big brothers,” said Berrouet.

And as for being a female in a mostly male-dominated sport, Berrouet says, “It’s a good feeling because I’m a woman and I’m still here.”

The 32nd Annual White Castle NYC Big Apple Grapple International Arm Wrestling Championships on Saturday, April 18, will begin at 12:30 p.m. in the Level 1-Special Events Hall.

The event will feature some of the world’s best arm wrestlers, both male and female, as they compete for a chance to be crowned NYC’s “King or Queen of Arms.”

With two classes – “hard-nosed professionals” and amateurs – and 14 weight classes, according to Camp, the competition is open to “anyone who wants to take a shot.” Over $5,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded

The sport is bourgeoning in popularity, noted Camp.

“On Saturday, [April 18], there will be seven tournaments in the U.S. at the same time,” he explained. “And every week there is a tournament in some state. It’s big in Italy, Turkey, Spain. We’re looking to make it an Olympic sport.”

There’s nothing, he said, like “a captive, cheering audience rotting for their favorites.”

Competition entry will be open to the public for a fee of $37 for professionals and $27 for amateurs, which includes a free sponsor T-shirt and admission to the NY International Auto Show. Contestants should register and weigh-in by noon. General admission is $14 adults and $4 for children under 12.

For more information about the NYC Big Apple Grapple, visit the New York Arm Wrestling® Association’s web site at www.nycarms.com or call 718-544-4592.