Phil Rasmussen – Champion Armwrestler

Champion Armwrestler and President of the Australian Armwrestling Federation

Phil Rasmussen is a Danish-born Australian known for his armwrestling prowess. He is a four-time National Armwrestling Champion and has racked up a healthy collection of State Titles during his time in the sport. Phil is also the President of the Australian Armwrestling Federation, a position he has held for over a decade.

In 2019, Phil won the Australian Armwrestling titles going undefeated on both arms, a notable achievement in the armwrestling community. His dedication to the sport and his commitment to training have helped him become a respected competitor in Australia and beyond.

In addition to his armwrestling achievements, Phil is also known for his animal advocacy and has spoken publicly about the benefits of veganism.


Please share your vegan story and whether you encountered any challenges along the way. 

As a Dane by birth, meat always featured heavily in our meals growing up. In fact, I loved meat so much that I often ate it raw, much to the revulsion of my friends and family! However, my perspective shifted drastically 25 years ago when I was first introduced to a vegan lifestyle and my eyes were opened to the harsh reality of animal food production.

I was initially skeptical of the idea of giving up meat. Being involved in sports and strength training from a young age, I was convinced that animal protein was necessary for muscle gain and a healthy body. But as I delved deeper into the brutal and inhumane conditions that animals endure, I knew that I couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. Watching the now infamous documentary “Earthlings” a few years later cemented that decision. Some things you just can’t unsee. The more I learned about veganism and its benefits, the more I realized that it aligned with my ethical values, and I’ve never looked back since.

As an athlete, I take pride in promoting a healthy and compassionate lifestyle, one that benefits animal welfare, human health, and the environment.

credit: instagram @kindnesswithamy

What made you decide to take up armwrestling and how long have you been armwrestling competitively?

Being a huge fan of Arnie and Sly (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone) since childhood, it’s no surprise that “Over the Top” became one of my favourite action movies. However, my interest in the world of competitive armwrestling was piqued in 2009 when I stumbled upon a documentary called “Pulling John,” which chronicled the journey of the greatest armwrestler of all time, John Brzenk.

Having just moved to Melbourne at the time my interest in armwrestling had peaked and I was eager to find a local club. I scoured the internet but couldn’t find any armwrestling groups in Melbourne…until I eventually stumbled across two guys who casually armwrestled in their garage on the weekend. I was instantly hooked on the sport and after a few months, this morphed into a growing group of passionate arm wrestlers and the Australian Armwrestling Federation was born!

Within a short period of time we had registered the federation, created a strong brand, attracted fantastic sponsors, and become the official body for the sport in Australia – sanctioned by the World Armwrestling Federation. We now have competitions Australia wide, a network of thousands of competitors, and provide the official qualifier into the World Armwrestling Championships.

What is the attitude towards veganism in the sport of armwrestling? Is there a difference now compared to when you first started?

Armwrestling has provided a great landscape to break stereotypes and change perceptions around plant-based athletes. Winning competitions has certainly helped in garnering attention, and as a strength sport, it’s the perfect opportunity to show that you don’t need animal products to have strong bones and perform at your best. Despite having a diverse range of competitors – from hunters to slaughterhouse workers – the conversation around veganism has always been respectful, with some light-hearted jokes thrown in here and there (as you’d expect in any competitive sport).

Certainly in my experience over the last decade I’ve found armwrestling (both here and internationally) is becoming more inclusive of veganism, reflecting a wider trend towards plant-based diets in the athletic world.


What type of training do you do in preparation for a competition?

Over the years my training methods have changed, particularly as I navigate age and injuries. I think balance is important so I focus on overall full-body training with traditional lifts like pullups, bench press, squats and deadlifts, supplemented with a few armwrestling specific exercises and of course plenty of time on the armwrestling table. If I am losing weight for a weight class I’ll also incorporate cardio and a calorie deficit to ensure I can cut down to the required weight in the leadup.


When preparing for a comp, do you follow a certain meal plan? Or do you eat what you normally eat day-to-day?

Armwrestling is far more lenient when it comes to nutrition than bodybuilding, especially if you are a heavyweight! My meals when training for an event will generally be high protein, low sugar, and a good balance of fats and carbs to promote muscle growth and ensure I’m never short on energy. I don’t count macros or deny myself the things I love, I just aim for consistency throughout the year and will scale the calories up or down as needed. Usually when competing in a weight class I’ll try and come into the final week before competition around 6kg over the weight cap and use water loading techniques to drop this weight in time for the weigh-in.

Do you have any training tips for budding armwrestlers?

Armwrestling is the cheapest sport around, you just need a flat surface and 2 willing participants. We have armwrestling clubs all over the country and everyone is welcome to attend. Pop along, grip up with some different people and you will quickly get the bug just like I did. You can also make some additions to your current workout routine to improve your armwrestling skills and strength. Partial pullups with a neutral grip, hammer curls, pronation movements using a cable or resistance band, and wrist curls will all advance your armwrestling prowess.


What advice would you give to those who are vegan curious or new to veganism who would like to improve their physical strength without consuming animal products?

Despite what we may have been taught since childhood, consuming animal products just isn’t necessary to achieve strength and good health. I didn’t experience any change in muscularity or strength when I eliminated animal products from my diet 20+ years ago. In fact, now in my mid-40s, I’m in the best shape of my life. The availability of high-quality plant-based protein sources has grown significantly over the years, and they contain all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth and repair. There’s no need to rely on animal products to meet your protein needs.


What’s next for Phil?

This year I’ll be representing Australia at the World Championships in Kazakhstan along with a team of Australia’s best armwrestlers. It gives me a goal to structure my training around (always important) and thankfully now that I’m mid 40s I can slot into the Masters class! I’m also working on the board for a fast-growing not-for-profit animal charity (‘Til The Cows Come Home) which has been incredibly rewarding, and my technology company Kudos continues to go from strength to strength in the travel industry. Finding a balance of pursuits that challenge me both physically and mentally, while also giving back through volunteer roles seems to strike a nice balance in life.

Phil at ‘Til The Cows Come Home Sanctuary

Phil’s quick-fire questions

Are there any armwrestlers or other vegan athletes you admire that you’d like to mention? 

John Brzenk, the greatest armwrestler of all time who continues to defy age at almost 60 and still at the top of the sport. His story inspired the movie Over the Top and his namesake in the documentary Pulling John. In the vegan community I have a tonne of respect for Robert Cheeke and everything he has done to promote vegan bodybuilding. Derek Tresize, Joel Kirkilis, Patrik Baboumian and Nimai Delgado all come to mind as well.


If people are interested in taking up armwrestling how can they get involved? 

Armwrestling is open to everyone and is one of the most easily accessible sports in the world. If you would like to get involved check out our nearest clubs and events at or email me direct at

What has been your favourite armwrestling experience so far? 

Winning the Australian Armwrestling Titles on both arms in 2019 after coming off a 6-year drought and having serious doubts whether I could still be competitive at that level. It was made even more challenging by not only being the event organiser and MC, but having to cut 7kg of bodyweight in the week prior to flying down to Melbourne while retaining my strength. It’s almost poetic how everything came together. Winning the biggest and most competitive class of the day, coupled with an enormous sense of pride in hosting Nationals at the iconic Federation Square in Melbourne with record numbers in attendance.


What is your favourite vegan food to eat?

I love a lot of food so this one is hard! Let’s go with my home-made spaghetti bolognaise that I learnt from an Italian family many years ago in Milan and I substitute with vegan mince. Special mention to the Black Pepper Beef from a little vegetarian restaurant on the Gold Coast called Tian Ran where I tried my first faux-meat meal almost 25 years ago and I still have it to this day.


What’s your favourite meal to make?

Scrambled Tofu! Quick, nutritious, and super tasty.

Browse our Vegan Easy recipes for “Tofu Scramble” or try this one:

Mushroom & Spinach Tofu Scramble

This big vegan breakfast will help you power through the day!

See the Recipe

Connect with Phil

Australian Armwrestling Federation website

Instagram  @philrasm

Facebook @veganatheist