Game of Arms

Game of Arms Q&A – Bart Wood (Erie Wrecking Crew)

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After serving time in federal prison, Bart Wood got his life back together and became a standout competitor. Watch his Erie Wrecking Crew meet the Kansas City Rolling Thunder on tonight’s episode of Game of Arms.

Q: There are a lot of legends on the show, including Cobra Rhodes and Allen Fisher. Was there anyone you looked up to when you started wrestling?

A: Growing up in Erie, it was John Heynoski Sr. [John Heynoski Jr. is a Wrecking Crew teammate.] He was the toughest guy around. I tried to model myself after him. He actually became my teacher. And of course, we wound up having to pull each other years later.

Q: It’s not often you have to compete against your coach. Were you psyched out?

A: It was very hard. He knew every trick I had, and I knew every angle he had. It was a hard match to referee because we were trying to anticipate what the other was doing in the grip. I snuck one win over on him, but he came back to beat me twice in the finals. He was a living legend in our area. [Having a well-known name] can absolutely psych people out. When people go up against Cobra or Travis Bagent, they’re intimidated by the name alone.

Q: You’re a father of five. Would you want to see any of your kids get into the sport?

A: Every one of them has competed. The youngest is asking me to find him a kids’ tourney to enter. It’s hard to tell them not to do it because they’ve grown up with arm wrestlers coming to the house to train. I just tell them I don’t want their arms to hurt like mine do.

Q: You’ve had your share of injuries, right?

A: I’ve experienced a full pectoral tear on my left side that had to be surgically reattached and a partial tear on my right pec. I have early signs of bursitis in both elbows. You can get nervous after something like that. It sticks in the back of your mind when you start competing again.

Q: 12 years ago, you did 18 months in prison for an indictment on drug charges. That has to shift your perspective on life.

A: It was devastating. You take on a whole new appreciation for the smallest things. I loved teaching, whether it was physical fitness or arm wrestling, and now I’m not able to. You go from being a pillar in the community to being humiliated. I went from hero to zero in seconds. I think I paid my debt to society, but it’s hard to find employers. I’ve made it far in job interviews, but then the red flags go up.

Q: Could you train in prison?

A: They frowned on arm wrestling because it could end in a fight, but I got much, much stronger. You can just nap and rest as much as you want. I wasn’t taking any supplements and I got so strong it was ridiculous. It taught me how important rest is for training.

Q: What did John Heynoski Sr. think of your situation?

A: It took a little bit of time for him to see that all I wanted to do after getting out was work hard and be a father.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you got out?

A: The first thing I did? Pick up my nine-month-old son.

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Filed under: Game of Arms, Interviews, Unscripted

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On April 28th, our commenting features will become unavailable while we upgrade the site. We apologize for the inconvenience. Commenting and the Talk forum will relaunch along with a range of new site features early next month. If you would like to be notified when commenting and the Talk forum have relaunched you can sign up for our newsletter here.

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