Airman uses arm wrestling to persevere

Various grip strengtheners sit in a bucket at the desk of Airman 1st Class Austin Seitter, a cyber transport systems technician assigned to the 2nd Audiovisual Squadron. The grip strengtheners vary in resistance from 195 pounds to 300 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Trimble)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE— Arm wrestling, the challenge which most people think of as a “bar game” is a sport one Hill Air Force Base Airman takes seriously. Airman 1st Class Austin Seitter, a cyber transport systems technician with the 2nd Audiovisual Squadron, has been training for 5 years to perfect his form, grip, and muscular endurance to ensure he has the skills and knowledge needed to pursue his dream in arm wrestling: Winning “The Hammer.”

The Hammer, as it’s known, is a nearly 20 pound, custom-made silver hammer, made for the champion in each weight class of the World Arm wrestling League.

“I would like to win a WAL hammer, it kind of looks like Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor—the Norse God of Thunder, I have a thing for hammers, not just because of arm wrestling but in general,” said Seitter while holding up his Mjolnir necklace, representing his faith to the Old Norse Religion. “My whole religion is revolved around the hammer of Thor and I use arm wrestling to train for that.”

One of the key aspects of Seitter’s religion is to live a healthy lifestyle, so he spends around 3 to 5 hours every day training his body and mind to get better at something arm wrestling related, however small it might be.

“I’m constantly looking for an excuse to train something,” he said. “Just bringing in groceries, I’m curling them or practicing my grip — it’s a lifestyle.”

At work, Seitter also finds ways to practice his skills. Airmen often find that when Seitter is at his desk, he’s working on different muscles, using grip strengtheners to improve his hand strength and form.

“It’s crazy how dedicated he is,” said Senior Airman James Kennedy, a photojournalist also assigned to the 2nd Audiovisual Squadron. “Every time I walk by his desk, I see him with a gripper in hand just working on his form and strength. He really puts the time and effort in every day to better himself”

When Seitter isn’t grip training, he’s learning new skills to support the U.S. Air Force’s largest video production unit, which for him is both rewarding and at times stressful. However, he said he balances out the stress by focusing on his goal of winning the Hammer.

“I get pretty angry if I don’t get some kind of workout in, even if it’s just a quick steel bending workout, that’s enough to help relieve some of the stress from the day,” said Seitter.” I really enjoy training just for that purpose.”

Initially, Seitter began his training regimen as a Strongman competitor. Through that sport he was able to relieve the stress of the day, but he felt as though he was missing something—a community. Seitter found that fulfillment from arm wrestling. He was introduced to it by a friend he made at the gym and never looked back.

“I loved training for Strongman but I always felt like the outsider training for it, I was always by myself whenever I trained,” he said. “I found arm wrestling and loved the camaraderie that came with training for it. I meet up with my group of friends once a week and just keep working on getting stronger.”

Being in the Air Force and moving around quite often, his friend circle keeps growing from his love of the sport. He still keeps in contact with friends formed while on previous teams in Illinois and Japan.

“The relationships I build while on these teams, I’ll maintain those forever, wherever I go,” Seitter said with a smile.

Seitter added that arm wrestling and Airmanship share common themes, and the most apparent and important to him is trust.

“You need the guy across from you to be somebody you trust,’ said Seitter. “You need that guy across from you to help identify your weak points so you can train on those and grow those skills and get better. At the end of the day, the guy training with you is there to help you grow and perfect your skills.”