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Joby 3ft 5in world champion arm wrestler

Instead of bemoaning what he lacks, Joby Matthew is using what he's got.

Despite being several feet shorter than others at his gym, Mr Matthew is able to defeat opponents twice his size with ease... at arm-wrestling.

Mr Matthew - who is 3'5'' - has severely under-developed legs, a condition caused by Proximal Fimoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD).
Joby Matthew
Legs just weigh you down: Joby Mathew does his routine morning exercise on the banks of Periyar river on the outskirts of Ernakulam last month as he builds up his upper body strength

But he has so much upper body strength that he is a world champion arm wrestler who can crush challengers with no disabilities.

Stunningly, the father-of-one has so far made it onto five world podiums during his career.

In these amazing pictures the pint-sized powerhouse, from Kerala, India, can be seen easily jumping up steps using only his hands.

And in further astonishing displays of muscular prowess Mr Matthew, who has just become a dad for the first time, amazes onlookers as he lifts huge weights and does push ups on just one hand.

His thirst for life means he also drives a specially-converted car that lets him drive using only his arms.

In a heart-warming twist to his amazing story, the nine stone sports trainer at a petroleum company says his incredible journey against all odds began with a supportive family.
Joby Matthew
Level playing field: Mr Mathew practices his arm-wrestling skills with a bodybuilder colleague at a local gym in Aluha last month

Facing a troubling trek just to get to school every day, his relatives showed him how to overcome the physical challenges he would face.

'I was definitely given a lot of encouragement at home,' he said.

'My home was located on top of a hill, and for a physically-challenged person it wasn't the most conducive place for mobility.

'There were obstructions everywhere. I had to walk a quarter of a mile before I got to a real road and my mother used to carry me to school. That is how I made it to school in first year.'

At school, Mr Matthew became all the more determined to overcome his disability as he was forced to sit on the sidelines while other students played exciting sports.

'I had many painful experiences there like when I was left out of games and sports,' he said.
Joby Matthew
Now you're just showing off: Mr Matthew gets creative with his exercises on the riverbank last month

'But I don't want to blame anyone. They presumed that since I was handicapped I wouldn't be able to compete.

'I saw kids coming to school riding their bicycles and I felt bad knowing I would never be able to do that. But even then, I tried not to concentrate on things I could not do, but on things I could do.

'So I began playing sports like volley ball, badminton and soon I was playing with able-bodied kids.'

Mr Matthew's quest to be the best eventually led him to challenge the bigger children at playground arm-wrestling where boys would battle it out to be the strongest.

'I realised I would never play football so I began searching for games that I could do well. Arm-wrestling was my answer.

I began to arm wrestle with my schoolmates and found I could beat them. Back in school it was a mark of machismo, so I had to win.'

It was the start of a journey that would eventually see him scoop a gold medal, one silver, and three bronze on the world stage.

In the Japan World Championships 2005 he impressively bagged three bronze medals - one for general category against non-disabled competitors and two in disabled categories on different hands.

Then - reaching the top of his game at the 2008 World Championships in Spain - he coolly pocketed gold for the general category and silver for the disabled event.

During the competitions opponents are assigned to classes according to weight.

Despite his differences, Mr Matthew has never regarded himself as less able than others.

'y legs were extremely small at birth,' he said. 'According to science my legs are 60 per cent underdeveloped.

'But I think all of us are physically challenged in some way, so I never consider myself handicapped. According to the world I am, but it will never stop me from trying anything.'

To keep himself fighting-fit, Mr Matthew hits the gym for an hour every day before swimming in a local river until he reaches his astounding limit.

After working out he returns home to 25-year-old wife Megha, a dance expert, and his two-month-old baby boy.

With his insatiable appetite to reach new physical heights he has also begun a gruelling personal training program in mountain climbing.

After earning crucial experience in the lower Himalayas' and New Zealand his new dream is to climb Mount Everest.

'It could take me eight years until I'm ready,' he said. 'But with everything I've achieved I know I can do it.'

Joby Matthew

Joby Matthew


  1. Anonymous
    9:58 AM

    I saw him waiting for a bus the other day. I went over to ask how he was getting on.

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