Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Updated : May 13
- Published : May 13

Boston hosting its first thumb-wrestling tournament

Oliver Best markets' organizers are hosting Boston's first-annual thumb-wrestling tournament next weekend

The tournament starts at noon on Saturday, May 21.

The tournament starts at noon on Saturday, May 21.

Courtesy of Evan Gillis


An Allston crew of vintage collectors and clothiers are declaring a thumb war in Boston this month, planning on hosting what they call the city’s first-ever thumb-wrestling tournament.

The organizers of Oliver Best Markets are inviting competitors to face opponents’ opposable digits on Saturday, May 21 at POP Allston, the quirky event space and indoor skate park on Brighton Avenue.

“From the feedback we have already it seems like everyone is saying they’re gonna win. So I think it’s gonna get a little heated,” said Evan Gillis, the Oliver Best’s marketing manager.

The plan, he said, is for opponents to enter a four-foot-by-four-foot wrestling arena, then square off in a tiny custom-made ring with two thumb-sized holes cut out of its bottom. Get your opponent’s thumb down for a three-count twice, and you move on to the next round.

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Around the smack-down, organizers plan to sell vintage clothes, antiques and oddities and offer beer and cider.

The winner gets a gift card and a “a pretty badass championship belt,” Gillis said. Wrestlers of all ages and skill levels are invited to attend.

As a way to spice up the company’s usual flea market-style vintage events, Oliver Best’s leaders this year had considered hosting an arm wrestling competition, Gillis said. But they realized doing so would be kind of a “liability,” and also that the beefy dudes of the local semi-pro arm wrestling competitions would probably dominate.

“Everybody can do it, it’s kind of wacky and I think it’s a lot less pressure and a lot less competitive,” Gillis said. “My only fear is that someone will break a thumb or something.”

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A referee, Humar Miranda of Allston’s Orchard skate shop, will officiate and emcee.

Miranda said in an email he plans to “keep the matches fun and fair, and provide commentary on each wrestler’s background and ‘special moves.”

The moves won’t be too special, Gillis said. The custom wrestling ring keeps “sneak attack” fingers at bay, and the ref will enforce a strict no cheating policy.

In their research, Gillis said, they also came across the Thumb Wrestling Federation, a TV series for children, in which the digits are dressed up in thumb-sized Lucha Libre masks. The Allston match-up, however, will be mask-free, Gillis said.

The competition runs 12-6 p.m. Pre-register to compete by sending an email to

Gillis said organizers plan to use these plans as a guide for their custom thumb-wrestling ring.

Gillis said organizers plan to use these plans as a guide for their custom thumb-wrestling ring.

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