A Call to Arms
June 1996

“A Call to Arms,” Ensign, June 1996, 69

A Call to Arms

When Steve Phipps was 13, his father asked him to dig some ditches on the family farm. When young Steve complained, his father said, “Okay, let’s arm wrestle. The loser has to do it.”

Though Steve could beat anyone his own age at school and quite a few older classmates, his father won their arm wrestle. As Steve dug ditches in the summer heat, he set a goal to beat his father in an arm wrestle someday. “I felt that I would be able to take on the world if I could beat my dad, because in my eyes he was the best,” Steve recalls.

Steve began lifting weights and working out in addition to doing his chores, and by the time he was 16 he beat his father in an arm wrestle. A few months later Steve noticed a newspaper ad for the Pacific Northwest Arm Wrestling Championship. In a match that lasted five minutes, Steve lost to the local defending champion—but in the process he gained the notice of members of an arm wrestling team, who invited him to join.

With more training, Steve began winning local tournaments and some larger tournaments, where his opponents included men who had won national and world championships. Steve did not compete in his first national championship, however, until after college and a mission to Santiago, Chile. “Arm wrestling wasn’t as important as serving the Lord and getting a good education,” he says. He won his first arm wrestling national championship in 1983, missed the 1984 competition because of job responsibilities—“another good lesson in priorities,” he says—and then won again in 1985.

Next Steve set his sights on winning the world arm wrestling championship. Several times he placed as high as third in world championship matches. He rededicated his training efforts and was able to win the 1993 world heavyweight arm wrestling championship. He serves as the elders quorum president in the Federal Way Fifth Ward, Federal Way Washington Stake, and he and his wife, Terri, have a daughter.—Gilbert Knight Miskin, Federal Way, Washington