To some, arm wrestling may be nothing more than a friendly competition of strength between friends, but to Marlon Hicks, it's much more than that.
For the 35-year-old Surrey resident, arm wrestling is a serious sport, and he's set to prove as much when he ships off to Brazil on Sept. 7 for the 34th annual Arm Wrestling World Championships.
Heading south to represent Canada on the biggest stage for international arm wrestling, Hicks is poised to show the world that Canada boasts some of the best arm wrestlers in the world.
"I qualified to compete in Brazil during the Canadian Nationals, which were held here in B.C. just recently at the River Rock Casino," said Hicks who competes at the 70kg weight class. Hicks previously competed in the 2010 world championships where he placed third in his weight category, bringing home a bronze medal.
"I hope to do a little better and bring home the gold this time," said Hicks.
Having started arm wrestling when he was a child, Hicks attributes much of his success in the sport to his dad, Dave Hicks, who is a multiple-time world arm wrestling champion.
"I probably started when I was five, so I've been arm wrestling for 30 years now," said Hicks. "My dad has won probably 25 world championships, more than anyone else in Canada."
But it's not only Hicks who's dedicated himself to the sport. Hicks is also part of the Vancouver Arm Wrestling Club, which boasts around 25 members, all of which are dedicated to training and competing in the sport. The group regularly meets in Burnaby to train together and work on techniques and strength training.
As for the public perception of the sport, Hicks said the biggest obstacle is overcoming the image that people might have of arm wrestling being nothing more than something done at a bar between friends.
"It's a lot more technical than people think, it's not just pure strength," said Hicks.
"I usually compare it to mixed martial arts or combat sports because there is a counter for every move and you have to come up with it on the spot. Just like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which I also study, you have just a split second to counter, otherwise it'll be too late."
For now, Hicks can only continue to compete as he's been doing and hope the sport gets the recognition he feels it deserves, something that may come a lot sooner than people may think.
"Arm wrestling is actually going to be featured as a demonstration sport for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi," said Hicks, hopeful that it will be ratified as a real Olympic sport in the years to come. "I'm definitely going to be gunning for that."
A fundraiser to help pay for Hicks' travel costs to Brazil will be held on Sept. 2 at the Admiral Pub in Burnaby at 6 p.m.