Arm wrestling pair by Baden Bisons – SWR Sport

Rosa and Eric Hoppe are several national and international champions in arm wrestling. They have been married since last year and compete together for Baden Bisons.

We visit Eric and Rosa Hoppe in Malsch near Pforzheim. Here the two live with Eric’s parents in a medium-sized apartment building. Despite their many successes, they make almost no money with their arm wrestling sport. Eric works full time as an office worker and Rosa as a kitchen clerk. They often have to pay travel expenses and entry fees out of pocket. For her, arm wrestling is a gamble, even though her training room is filled with medals, trophies and certificates. Eric is a four-time German champion. He even fought for first place at the 2018 World Cup in Poland. His wife twice won the national title in Costa Rica and is the reigning world champion with the right arm. With left, she is vice world champion.

Arm fight is mmore than just a pub treat

Arm wrestling originally comes from classic arm wrestling, but is now very different from the fun of the pub. It’s a full body sport. Opponents face each other at a standardized competition table and press down on the opponent’s arm with all their weight. Whoever first forces their opponent into a cushion on the table with the back of their hand wins. “It is important that the hand and shoulder always form a unit. The body follows so that you do not injure your joints,” says Lothar Hoppe. He is Eric’s father and was himself an arm wrestler. The 80-year-old now serves as team supervisor for Baden Bisons. He is always present during training and competitions and occasionally goes to the competition table himself.

As a competitive sport, arm wrestling follows clear rules, and the right technique is also important. “Technology accounts for 40 to 45 percent. The rest is strength,” explains Lothar Hoppe. The two minutes before the referee’s start command make up a large part of the match. Here, the opponents try to secure a decisive advantage for the competition with an optimal starting grip. Especially with opponents of similar strength, this starting team is crucial for the outcome of the duel. The competition itself starts after the judge’s “go” and is decided in about 90 percent of cases after just one second. Longer duels of up to 40 seconds only occur if the two opponents have almost exactly the same strength.

Accidentally beat the European arm wrestling champion

Eric Hoppe got his enthusiasm for arm wrestling from his father Lothar. As a craftsman, he has a strong build and big hands. In a gym, Lothar Hoppe was challenged to an arm wrestling competition by a man he did not know because of his strong physique. Lothar Hoppe beats the man, much to the amazement of those who attend the gym. After Lothar wins the second and third time, the challenger presses with both hands, but Lothar wins again. The attendees were amazed at what everyone except Lothar himself knows: He just accidentally hit the reigning European champion in arm wrestling, Michael Bociu. His son Eric was there at the time and was immediately excited: “I was five or six at the time and said, Dad, I really want to do this.

love at first sight

Eric meets his wife Rosa via the internet. On YouTube, he stumbles across videos of world championship matches of the reigning world champion. “When I first saw her in a YouTube video, I thought to myself: Wow! What a woman! How strong and how beautiful,” Eric says enthusiastically. After the World Cup, he took courage and wrote Rosa Facebook down. Rosa currently lives in her home country of Costa Rica. She speaks only Spanish and hardly any English. Since Eric does not speak Spanish, the two use online translators to help them communicate. The first text chat eventually becomes extensive video calling. “The broadcast was wonderful and we laughed a lot. Most of the time the phone calls lasted three to four hours,” says Eric enthusiastically. The two 42-year-old arm wrestlers fall in love and Eric invites Rosa to Germany.

On her birthday in August 2020, Eric takes his wife for a walk to the Residenzschloss in Rastatt, kneels down in front of her and proposes marriage. Rosa gives him the word yes. “I cried. It was indescribable,” Rosa recalls of the application. Almost a year later, the two got married, and Rosa has lived in Germany since January.

Baden bison: A strong community

Eric and Rosa Hoppe both compete for the arm wrestling club Baden Bisons from Iringen, which Eric founded in 2006. Internationality and inclusion are important values ​​for the association. The 75 members come from different countries. One of them is Ruslan Chuliiev. The Ukrainian para-arm wrestler fled the war in Ukraine with his wife and two 13-year-old children. Eric Hoppe, who knew Chuliiev from international tournaments, was his first point of contact in Germany. Eric brought Ruslan Chuliiev to Malsch and collected donations and clothing in the association. Eric also organized a temporary stay with friends of the Hoppe family.

The half-lame Chuliinev also has ideal training conditions at the club. According to their own statements, Baden Bisons is the only club in Germany with a special arm wrestling table for parathletes. Unlike the arm wrestlers, they compete in a sitting position without any physical disability. Like Chuliiev, Eric Hoppe has been hemiplegic since birth. For this reason, the topic of inclusion is particularly important to him personally.

Rosa Hoppe: A strong woman in a male domain

Since active arm wrestlers in Germany can be counted on one hand, Rosa always trains with the men from Baden Bisons and follows them closely. “Rosa is the strongest woman I have ever met,” teammate Daniel Fedra, who has been with Baden Bisons for two years, tells us. She wants to prove her strength by defending her title at this year’s World Cup in Turkey. There she will again compete for Costa Rica. In future international tournaments, however, she will probably start for Germany. The prerequisite for this is that she lives and trains in Germany for at least one year. Eric Hoppe is also at the World Cup. He too is hoping for another title, so that the cup collection in the Hoppe family’s basement will be even bigger in the future.

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