Devon “No Limits” Larratt has certainly proven he lives up to his name. As a holder of the Legacy Hammer, the 46-year-old is currently deemed the world’s best arm wrestler and only considers a challenge worthy of one’s efforts when it poses a real threat to life.
Cue what Devon defines as the ‘opportunity to grow as a human being.’ The phone call inviting him to fill Eddie Hall’s boxing boots when an injury put the brakes on his fight against The Mountain, Thor Bjornsson, on September 18th.
Having never set foot in a professional boxing ring, the proposition suited Devon perfectly. Less than five weeks to transition from arms wars athlete to the king of the ring; why not?!
“I was so excited about the match,” says Devon. Having just settled into his temporary Dubai residence, the former Canadian Special Forces soldier is just a few days from one of the most high-profile boxing matches in history. “I’ve been following Thor and Eddie as strongmen for years, and when I found they would be boxing, I was like, ‘this is incredible. I need ringside tickets.’ As things turned out, I bypassed the front row and earned myself full entry to the ring. What have I gotten myself into?!”
“I’ve been following Thor and Eddie as strongmen for years, and when I found they were going to be boxing, I was like, ‘this is incredible; I need ringside tickets.’ As things turned out, I bypassed the front row and earned myself full entry to the ring. What have I gotten myself into?!”
“When Eddie got injured, I was gutted for him, and obviously, I wanted to watch the fight so badly. I thought it was such a cool idea to have guys who are good in their chosen fields come together in a completely new sport. I didn’t want the Core Sports adventure ruined, so I threw my name into the hat. I like to put myself in situations where I’m slightly afraid. Maybe ask my psychologist why I do these things, but they lead to much growth.”
Training for a new sport against a former World’s Strongest Man doesn’t appear to rock Devon’s boat.
“I see this as an opportunity to expose myself to a new challenge and change how I see the world,” he says. “I’ve been very focused on arm wrestling for over 25 years. I’m a big fan of Thor, so I don’t mind getting beaten up.”
“I’m a big fan of Thor, so I don’t mind getting beaten up.”
“I thought this would be an opportunity to balance my energy. It’ll be a nice reset, and when it’s done, I’ll have this great experience and this new perspective.”
Having set off with a huge eighteen-month handicap, Devon has drastically switched up his training to make up some ground against his opponent.
“Thor has been training for 18 months, and I’ve got less than five weeks, so it’s been a real shock to the system,” he says. “When I train for arm wrestling, I only train the movements and motions for arm wrestling. Arm wrestling is all about being tight and locked up and static. You’re probably pretty good if you can be strong for five to twenty seconds. Boxing is the opposite because it pays to be loose and has fluidity in your movements.”
“Arm wrestling is all about being tight and locked up and static. You’re probably pretty good if you can be strong for five to twenty seconds. Boxing is the opposite because it pays to be loose and has fluidity in your movements.”
“There’s a lot of cardio involved too, and usually, I don’t do any! I practiced MMA a lot in my twenties and was a good fighter. I feel things coming back to me already. It’s been a healthy exercise, so I’m focusing on that. Every day I feel better.”
When Muscle and Health spoke to Thor, he admitted entering the ring blind and had no idea whether Devon was right or left-handed. “I’m not sure whether I’m a right- or left-handed fighter,” says Devon. “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m punching, and I’m moving. I’m trying to learn how to breathe and dance.”
“I’m not sure whether I’m a right- or left-handed fighter,” says Devon. “I don’t know what’s going on. I’m punching, and I’m moving. I’m trying to learn how to breathe and dance.”
“I don’t think Thor has to worry about what kind of fighting style I have! I’ve got a great guy helping me, Zackaria BenBouchta- brilliant. I’m getting the best tutelage I could get in a short amount of time. But as far as my style goes, I will try to be present in the fight and take advantage where possible. But, to be honest, I’m entirely out of my depth. I’m completely out of my depth.
“To be honest, I’m completely out of my depth. I’m completely out of my depth.”
“My arms, my elbows, everything’s screaming at me like, ‘What are you doing?’ My nose, oh my God, my nose is killing me. But I’m just happy about it. I think it’s cool. How many people get to fight Thor? How many people?”
Devon admits the daredevil feat is partial because he’s no longer adequately challenged by his sport.
“As an athlete in my field, I feel devoid of progression,” he says. “My competitions are very calculated and orchestrated, and I’ll know I’ll be competing for four or five months before the event. There’s a lot of structure. A lot of monotonous, hard work needs to be done. And I’ll arm wrestle my whole life. It’s something that I’ll do forever. But given the opportunity to take five weeks off and embark on an impossible physical challenge, I’m doing all I can to do my hero (Thor) justice in the ring. Yes, it makes me scared, but I like to be scared a little. It turns my life into a little horror story, so that’s fun.”
“Yes, it gets me scared, but I like to be scared a little. It turns my life into a little horror story, so that’s fun.”
“I was a military guy my whole life, so running and fighting was normal. I’ve been retired for five years now. I stopped fighting, and I stopped running. I’ve realized I can never let that happen again. From this point forward, I’ll continue to do my very best in the arm wrestling world, but I want to make sure that I can always run and that I can always fight from now on. My middle son takes Brazilian jujitsu. I’ll probably start attending class with him when I return home.”
Devon’s training regime has been given the ultimate shake-up.
“Right away, I had a massive cardio deficiency,” he says. “My body’s geared for arm wrestling, and the oxidative requirement is zero, so I’m doing cardio daily. I’m also doing a lot of sparring and boxing drills. For the last ten days or so, I’ve been sparring almost every day. I’ve had a couple of days off here and there, but my nose has taken a beating. I swear that’s the thing that’s bugging me the most right now. But learning how to box, learning how to move is fun. Zack and I are working on boxing basics, footwork, how to move, combinations, what to watch for, and cardio.
“Soon, I’ll start to taper a bit so that come fight night, I can be in the best shape possible, although a taper would usually start six weeks out rather than seven days. I had fewer than six weeks total prep time so everything’s condensed.”
Competing against a man who’s cut back his daily calorie intake by almost 75% would usually dictate a strict dietary regime. But not for Devon.
“I let myself go the last few months,” he says. I was at Tristar in Montreal, probably Canada’s most notable fighting gym. The coach advised me to cut down on animal products and consume a high-carb diet. So that’s what I tried to do. My protein and fat intake went down, and I felt good. But as soon as I left Canada, I found myself cheating once, cheating twice. And now I’m here in Dubai, and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and I can’t help myself. I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon, but the food’s good here.”
“But as soon as I left Canada, I found myself cheating once, cheating twice. And now I’m here in Dubai, and there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and I can’t help myself. I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon, but the food’s good here.”
You can’t help but love this guy! Just a few days out from fighting Thor, he’s destroying the all-you-can-eat buffet.
“I just have to do it,” says Devon. “Some things are really important to me, and food is one of them. I feel like I’m very motivated by food. It can be used against me very easily. And I can’t say no if it’s in front of me. I just can’t. It’s just I can’t, can’t do it.”
Thor carries a five-inch height advantage over Devon and boasts a superior reach.
“Thor is a gigantic dude,” says Devon. “Usually, when guys reach the high sixes and are heavyweight, they move weirdly and look awkward. I’ve known Thor for years, and he always moved quite well, even when he was at his biggest. Just now, he’s moving very well. He’s a huge athlete and just starting his boxing career. There’s a lot to worry about. I like it. Above all, I hope I’m a worthy opponent for him. I hope it’s a good fight. I’m excited.”
“Above all, I hope I’m a worthy opponent for him. I hope it’s a good fight. I’m excited.”
Devon says losing is healthy and that he seeks it out.
“When I’ve months to prep my mind for an arm-wrestling match, I try to focus on my opponent losing,” he says. “I try to break my opponents down and engage with them mentally. This case is very different. I’m in a very different position for this fight mentally. I must get my mind to where I’m okay with a bad result. Once I’ve reached that point, I’ll go and try and do my very best.
“There have been many times I’ve been like, ‘Devon, what are you doing? You’re going to go and fight a guy who’s younger, bigger, more trained, less disabled.’ But at the same time, I’m okay with it. I’ve found that most of my very best periods have come after a period of loss. I have no problems with losing.”
“I’ve found that most of my best periods have come after a loss. I have no problems with losing.”
I seek it out. I think it’s a very healthy thing to do. But don’t think that I’m not trying my best not to lose. I know that losing is an essential part of winning. The two things go together, and there’s an essential balance in a person’s life. If you win all the time, you will eventually lose. You absolutely will. And if you lose a lot but keep getting back on the horse, you will eventually win. So, I don’t mind a mission impossible occasionally.”
“If you win all the time, you will eventually lose. You absolutely will. And if you lose a lot but keep getting back on the horse, you will eventually win. So, I don’t mind a mission impossible occasionally.”
“My wife is coming to Dubai in a couple of days. She’s like, ‘How drunk am I allowed to be before the fight?’”
We’ve been together since high school, so she’s seen all the unbelievable stuff I’ve done, and this, on the scale, is not that bad. This is something that dictates I’m probably not going to die, probably not.
“By the time that bell rings, I’ll be ready to fight and give Thor everything I have.”