Paweł Grabas, a financial controller at PCC MCAA, is a man with huge arm strength. Always smiling and friendly, but few people know that he practises a still not very popular sport of arm-wrestling. Meet another employee working for our capital group.
In Poland, arm-wrestling is a somewhat exotic sport discipline. Tell us a little bit about it.
Exotic? Yes, and no. People have done arm-wrestling for centuries. The first mention of it dates back to the Roman legions – that was the way army hierarchy was created. In its more professional form, understood as a sport, arm-wrestling originated in the USA, where the first official competition was held in mid-20th century. The rules have hanged a lot since then, the biggest change is that we now wrestle standing up. The beginning of arm-wrestling in Poland is dated at 1999, when a Polish-Ukrainian duel took place – unfortunately for us, Ukraine won. In 1999-2000, the Polish Arm-Wrestling Federation was established. This year, the Federation organized the 18th edition of the Polish Arm-Wrestling Championships. Both arm-wrestling training sessions and competitions are conducted in a very professional way, on specialist equipment, and it is often details that determine one’s success or failure. But in my opinion, it is not an exotic sport in Poland. Slavs are the world leaders in this discipline, we even have a few Polish World Champions. Poland has a few hundred professional arm-wrestlers competing in different weight and age categories.
You are a medallist of the Polish Championships! Congratulations! Describe that event for us.
Thank you. I do what I can, and this is the effect of 5 years of arduous training. The Championship was held in Cieszyn this time, and the competition was very hard. Many competitors in my category, the return of former Champions. A 10- time Polish champion in this category unexpectedly returned home without a medal. Having won two gold medals at international championships in the Czech Republic, I was considered one of the competition’s front-runners, but my rivals proved to be very strong. I managed to win the silver medal with my right arm, but with the left arm – no medal. Although I wish I did better, especially when it comes to the left arm, I am still happy with my result. I consider this silver medal a step up after my two bronze medals from a year ago. I am also happy that I managed to avoid injuries and was able to resume training after a one-week break.
Where did your passion for such a sport come from?
My adventure began at an amateur tournament organised in the first year of my studies at the university I went to. Back in school, I liked to arm-wrestle my friends and I was quite good at it, although it had little to do with the actual sport, which I quickly learned at the tournament. It was an amateur competition, but on a professional table and with professional referees. It was an open competition, which meant there were no weight categories, and, weighing only 59 kg (I did not go to the gym at the time), I was definitely the smallest competitor there. I lost my first duel to a much bigger competitor (the winner has to win two out of max tree duels). This made me think that I probably would not be able to defeat my opponents with my strength, I had to start using my head. It worked, I won all subsequent duels. I even went against the big guy from my first duel again and won, and even reached the finals. I came second in that tournament, despite the fact that there were many bigger and stronger rivals, and I liked that. Since then, I have been training strictly with this discipline in mind, mostly at the gym and by sparring. I fell in love with this sport for several reasons. I love competition and watching hard, arduous work bring results, and also the fact that it is not your strength but your technique that makes you good at it, that your head and thinking is just as important as your strength.
What does your training consist of?
I often vary my training, but generally, if I can, I train three times a week at the gym for about 2.5 hours, mainly specialist strength training, and after that, I have sparring sessions with friends from the club. The first thing I do every morning is a light warm-up with a rubber band. I also do not shy away from general strength exercises and other activities like jogging, team sports or climbing. I love sport in general. At first glance, specialist arm-wrestling exercises may look very strange or even funny because they often consist in training small muscles at particular angles.
Do you have some special diet?
I have tried a restrictive diet during my five years of training, but in principle a special diet is not necessary, or at least I do not have one. I try to eat healthy, although I rarely refuse myself something. Fortunately, I am still quite young and have a good metabolism, so it does not affect my physical shape. The time to diet comes usually two weeks before a competition, as that is when I have to regulate my weight to fit in a given weight category.
What do you do at PCC MCAA and how long have you been working there?
I have been a financial controller at PCC MCAA for two years. It has been a very satisfying experience, I have learnt a lot. The Group has become a big part of my life, I have become friends with many employees from different departments. I try to do my job the best I can, I am more demanding towards myself than anybody else is. Without going into details, my duties are vast. They are related primarily to finances, and so – quite responsible. My position is often associated with stress and work under the pressure of time, but I have a very calm nature and, despite the pressure, I can act effectively and keep my composure. I can say that I am lucky because my work gives me pleasure – I do not think many people can say that.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have no spare time. I live in Wroclaw, so to get to work by train, I have to get up quite early. On a training day, I go from work straight to the gym, train there and come back home at 8/9 pm, and then I eat something after all that, there is little time left in the day. On a non-training day, I come home from work before 6 pm. That leaves me about 4 hours of free time. Most of my spare time comes at weekends. I try to make the most of my free time, using it mainly for physical and mental regeneration. For pleasure, I do sports, invest in the stock market, spend time with my partner and think about starting my own business based on bees.
You work for a large corporation and do a strength sport, but you are planning your future in beekeeping. How come?
Bees are a little passion of mine. For several generations, all men in my family have been breeding bees. I too have worked with bees from an early age, so I have the necessary knowledge about these creatures, as well as about bee products and their quality. Life has taught me that, in addition to health benefits, working with bees can also be a very profitable business, as both the demand for bee products and prices of such are very high. In my opinion, the combination of my financial and beekeeping knowledge could lead to something interesting. Also, beekeeping is a very pleasant job, and bees themselves are fascinating creatures that can amaze everyone. I could easily talk about them for hours.
Do you have any sports plans for the foreseeable future?
At the national level, I am still missing a gold medal of the Polish Championships. I already have all the other colours as well as all colours of the Polish Cup medals and some medals from other national competitions. Now, my goal is the Polish championship, which I hope I manage to achieve next year. I am also considering participation in the World Championships this year, as my last silver medal has qualified me for this event. I would also like to take part in a high-profile international competition in Slovakia next year. I am also a licenced arm-wrestling coach and referee, and I would like to develop myself in these directions and promote this beautiful sport.
If you would like to try this sport, feel free to contact me!