When you think of Great Britain’s great sporting hopes, 19-year-old football sensation Jack Wilshere comes to mind, 17-year-old Laura Robson is already staking a claim for Britain’s number one and Tom Daley is a Commonwealth Diving champion at 16. But one arm wrestling teenager from Slough is the best the British Isles has to offer in the sport already.
This person has romped to 15 British titles at senior and junior level, has won four international tournaments, two European silver medals and a bronze in the World Championships. The World Number three even made a guest appearance on James Corden’s ‘A League of their own’ show on Sky One, humiliating star guests Patrick Kielty and Jamie Redknapp in a special sporting challenge.
But was this star in the making a massive bloke with biceps bigger than a normal person’s body? Far from it. Nineteen-year-old Joanne Poole is arm wrestling’s next big thing. Raised by a Dad who competed in international arm wrestling tournaments himself, Joanne lived and breathed the sport from a young age – but still couldn’t put a finger on where this superhuman strength came from.
She said: “Well when my Dad went for an international tournament, all the professionals’ children had a mini table. I was 7 at the time and I was beating 14-year-old boys so I think we knew I had something from then. I didn’t do it properly until I was 11 and I started winning a lot.
“I won the nationals when I was 11 for the first time, so that was a big one for me. And I entered the world championships for the first time in 2006 – when I was 14.
“That was my first ever international, because it was in England I went to it, and I did the best out of all the juniors in our class, going up to 18. I was the youngest on the junior team.”
Joanne, living with boyfriend and Germany’s arm wrestling number one Kevin Berberich, made such an impact that she was invited to take on comedian Keilty and former England and Liverpool midfielder Redknapp in an arm wrestling challenge – toying with the stars before eventually pinning their arms down in comical fashion. The Blonde bombshell described it as the funniest thing she’s ever done.
“It was the best thing I’ve done in my life, honestly. They cut a lot of it out as well, it was unbelievably funny. Just bits they couldn’t show on TV. It was mainly Patrick Kielty singing songs that obviously weren’t allowed to be shown on telly.”
That was not the only time that her incredible strength caught unsuspecting challengers off guard. Undoubtedly, there must have been numerous occasions when men twice the size and age have been left red-faced, but Joanne took her power to a new level when she took on FIFTY Dads in consecutive matches, and didn’t lose a single one.
“For children in need, we did arm wrestling and it was basically me taking on all the Dads. It was a pound a go and we took about £50. So that was about 50 arm wrestles for me, against the Dads, and not one of them beat me.
“Obviously, none of them knew about it. They had just dropped their children off, and they would say hello. And the next day they would be looking at me and say ‘how could you do that!?’”
And unsurprisingly, she’s so confident in her abilities that she claimed that becoming world number one will be “easy”.
She joked: “Yeah, yeah, easy. If I put the time in and stop being lazy.
“I’ve just moved in to a new flat with my partner so we are sorting all that out and then we’re going to get training hard. It will be easy to win the Worlds I reckon – I’ve just got to put my head to it.”