5 minutes with Kyle Buller

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Defending Champion Kyle Buller, center, competes with James Fillwater, left, in the Kansas State Arm Wrestling Championships at the Kansas State Fair, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. Photo: Jesse Brothers/HutchNews

The local newspaper touted the diversity of participants at the Kansas State Fair’s 30th annual state arm wrestling championship. According to The Hutchinson News (Sept. 11, 2018) competitors included “a Chinese citizen, a paraplegic local favorite and several women.” The “paraplegic local favorite” was Zoar MB Church member Kyle Buller from Inman, pictured here supported by two assistants. Born with spina bifida, Buller has twice taken first place in the featherweight class.

How did you get started in arm wrestling?

Back in high school I was in a class with one of the strongest kids in school. I challenged him to arm wrestle, and I actually beat him.

What kind of complications are there for you as a paraplegic?

I have rods in my back and didn’t want to twist and damage the rods. But my doctor said as long as I didn’t experience any unusual pain I could go for it. I have no feeling or strength in my legs, so I can’t wrap my legs around the table like other arm wrestlers can.

How did it go for you at your first state championship match?

An average arm wrestling match lasts 10 seconds. The guy I went up against the first time wasn’t real strong, but he had a lot of endurance and the match ended up lasting five minutes. I took first place that year. When I want to be, I’m good at endurance, too.

How do you train?

I go to the wellness center and do a lot of free weights. And then I do a lot of bench press, too. I’m up to 300 pounds in bench press.

How does arm wrestling help you deal with your disability?

Some days I get down on myself about something but when I start training I realize I have to stay focused. Statistics say that most people with a disability like mine will become depressed and addicted to drugs. But you have to realize that life isn’t about you—there’s a bigger plan at work.

What faith lessons has arm wrestling taught you?

For years I’ve had to rely on some other guys to support me while I wrestle. They’re guys from the heavyweight class so they are able to hold me up as long as I need them. That is true in my faith, too. We all need somebody’s support.

Kathy Heinrichs Wiest
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.

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