INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The sport of pro arm wrestling is not for the weak.
Winning on the tables demands a strong upper body, as portrayed in a new reality series on the AMC Network.
To look at him, you’d never realize he’s a TV star. And then, you might notice the biceps Ethan Fritsche is keeping up his sleeves.
Oak Grove High graduate Ethan Fritsche is making the most of his muscle. His career as a professional arm wrestler is now part of a new reality show called “Game of Arms,” which pits five-man arm wrestling teams against one another. It’s been on cable television since February.
“It’s through the roof,” Fritsche said, when asked about the thrills the show has provided him.
All the while, Fritsche hasn’t quit his day job working as a cashier at Nature’s Pantry, an organic grocery store in Independence, yet he’s a finalist in the show’s first season.
“It’s been surreal,” Fritsche said. “I got asked to do this show. I was just in awe. That’s the best way to describe it. I couldn’t believe it.”
At six feet and 160 pounds, Fritsche is one of the smallest guys on the show, but a recent episode showed him beating a wrestler who weighed over 400 pounds.
“When I was little, my dad threw me up on the table and said ‘try this’,” Fritsche recalled. “Ever since then, I just fell in love.”
Don Fritsche, Ethan’s father, was a champion arm wrestler in his own right. Some scenes in the show are set in the family home in Lone Jack, which has arm wrestling tables and other training gear set up.
“We might have a TV star on our hands,” Don Fritsche said. “He got beat quite a bit by his older sister, Dusty, until he was about 15 and then he finally started beating his sister.”
How much does arm wrestling mean to the 22-year old Fritsche? He remembers his freshman year of high school at Oak Grove. That’s when he dropped high school football to concentrate on the sport he loved the most.
“I’ll go into the gym and someone will ask, ‘Hey are you that guy on that show’,” Ethan Fritsche said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I am.'”
He’s in the television spotlight, but he’s also drawing strength from the real world.
The season finale of “Game of Arms” airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. local time on AMC. Ethan can’t tell us what happens, but he says the final episode includes a wrestling match you won’t believe.