Vern “One-Armed Bandit” Martel is one of the most driven, kindest world champion athletes you’ll ever meet. Vern has too many provincial arm-wrestling championships to count. He has 10 Canadian championships and 13 world titles. This gifted athlete, who has overcome major injuries twice in his career, also has a spot in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.
Martel, who was a member of Team Canada for over a decade, won his 1983 world title in San Jose, Costa Rica. A motorcycle accident shortly after that victory put him in a wheelchair for 18 months and paralyzed his left arm.
Martel did not compete for three years but always had it in his mind that he would return to the world stage one day. Through sheer determination, he re-trained himself to arm wrestle without using his left arm for leverage. In 1993, he once again advanced to the world championships, this time in Moscow. In that historic Russian city, he won his second world crown.
Prior to the 1998 worlds, Vern had been out of arm wrestling for more than two years because of a broken bone in his right hand. He made his comeback in a Williams Lake tournament, went on to place second at the B.C. finals and then found his way back onto Team Canada. In Thunder Bay, Martel scored two straight victories over Minnesota’s Wayne Springall to claim the world title in the 80-kilogram, right-hand class.
Vern is a cancer survivor, loving husband and dad, as well as a community difference-maker.