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That Guy Who Snapped His Arm Near Nats Park

[Warning: Sort of gross.]

It's a good thing the Nats are on this little run of success. Because otherwise I might have been tempted to suggest that what happened at Battle of the Biceps II last weekend fit in well with this most unnatural of seasons.

The event, in its second year, featured a keg toss and a fast-pitch contest and an arm wrestling showdown, held at the Bullpen beer garden across the street from Nats Park. It was organized by a network of professional young women to raise money for Community Lodgings, an Alexandria organization that provides transitional housing and services for low-income families. Good clean weekend fun, all the way around.

Things were humming merrily along on Saturday afternoon, when the middleweight arm-wrestling finale arrived. Matt Donohue, a 30-year old D.C. resident, had made the finals after being eliminated in round one a year ago. His roommate, former Ole Miss linebacker Houston Sanford, was refereeing the bout, and he put the Donohue and Wright Sigmund in the starting position. Donohue had been training with Sanford for a year and had bulked up considerably, and within seconds the arms were swinging in his favor. He gave one final push. And then?

"I literally just turned my shoulder and applied more pressure and heard a loud snap," Donohue said, "and then it was kind of an out-of-body experience."

"I was right there standing next to him, so when you hear a sound like a .22 rifle and see someone's arm snap like a twig, go the opposite way, it's always interesting," Sanford said. "Luckily I like that kind of stuff. It was interesting, but it was also surreal to watch one of your very good friends' and roommates' arms snap in half right in front of you."

"It"took me a split second to realize what happened, at which point I collapsed on the ground," Donohue recalled. "I didn't know what the hell had happened. I just knew I couldn't really feel my arm, I couldn't feel my hand.... It was the most intense pain I had dealt with in my entire life. I was just kind of screaming."

He said it felt like "getting stabbed in the arm with a large knife and then someone twisting it numerous times," though he acknowledged he's never been stabbed with a large knife. A doctor and a nurse in the crowd emerged, and helped stabilize the limb and calm him down. Some people thought he had dislocated his shoulder or elbow. Others thought it might have been a tendon or ligament. A few spectators vomited.

One of the heavyweight finalists bowed out of his upcoming bout, and indeed, the rest of the matches were called off. And Donohue and friends went to the GW hospital, where he said he was diagnosed with a broken humerus.

His biceps and triceps, he was told, essentially corkscrewed his bone and busted it in two, not unlike the injuries suffered by pitchers Dave Dravecky and Joe Tony Saunders. The weird thing is, Donohue was actually winning the match, and was cruising to the division championship.

"I mean, there was not even a debate," Sanford noted. "He had forward momentum and was definitely overpowering his opponent. That's what was so amazing about the whole thing."

Although he apparently lost, through default, since he left the table. There was, of course, a video, which made its way around the Internet, as such things do, providing at least a brief moment of athletic fame. And now Donohue, who works in defense sales, is working from home and awaiting surgery next week, followed by rehab, followed by a life that he hopes will be normal, but won't feature much arm wrestling.

"I can't be mad at the guy I was arm wrestling, I can't be mad at the people who put on the event; I'm not mad at anybody," he said. "I guess if you're gonna break your arm, it might as well be at a charity event....All you can do is laugh."

Which is why he was ok with putting the video on the Internet. Here it is.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 28, 2009; 7:19 PM ET
Categories:  Fighting Sports  
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oh snap!


Posted by: jcbcmb68 | July 28, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Woodberry Forest sucks.

Posted by: nishrock13 | July 29, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Correction Dan, TONY Saunders not Joe Saunders, don't scare VT alumni like that.

Posted by: jbfromfc | July 29, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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