Yesterday Kevin Siska posted a message on NEAMBA that few days ago Ray Darling went into the ER and was dianosed with endocarditis (heart valve infection) and they had to do an emergency surgery and replace the valve again. He has been fighting throughout but things are not looking good. Please keep him in your prayers as this is all we can do at this point."
A few hours later came a message informing about the death of Armwrestling Legend: Ray Darling.
Eric Roussin about Ray Darling: "This is very sad news. He's always been an inspiration to me. I think many people may not realize the role he played in two major developments in this sport. First, he was the main person involved in the development of the Yukon Jack series of professional events, which were the top events of the early to mid'90s. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he was the main organizer of a trip to the USSR in 1989, which first exposed Russians to organized armwrestling. Basically, this trip can be credited to opening up the world of armwrestling to eastern Europe...
Ray was a great man, who truely helped progress the sport."
Bill Cox about Ray Darling: "RAY STARTED ARMWRESTLING IN THE LATE 70'S. HE HAS WON NATIONAL & WORLD TITLES. HE HAS WON STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN EVERY STATE IN THE NORTHEAST AND THEN SOME. SOME OF THE BIGGER EVENTS HE COMPETED IN WERE THE GOLDEN BEAR(RUSSIA), HARLEY PULL (OH ) ATLANTIC COAST CHAMPIONSHIP (VA) CAN-AM CHAMPIONSHIP ( MA ), PETALUMA (CA). TOO MANY CHAMPIONSHIPS TO MENTION THEM ALL... THE ATLANTIC COAST CHAMPIONSHIP WAS RUN BY SUE PATTON AND RAY ATTENDED EVERY YEAR. THE CAN-AM RAN FOR 20 YEARS AND RAY NEVER MISSED ONE, THAT WAS MY EVENT. HE ALSO COMPETED AT MANY EVENTS IN CANADA SUCH AS GLOUCESTER FAIR, NAPIERVILLE, MIKE GOULDS EVENTS.
HE WAS ALSO THE SPOKESMAN FOR A GROUP KNOW AS FRIENDS OF ARMWRESTLING THAT HELPED MANY A PROMOTER AND ALS MANY AN ARMWRESTLER IN NEED. RAY WAS TRULY A SPOKESMAN FOR ARMWRESTLING KNOW ALL AROUND THE WORLD. MY 1ST WORLD WAS IN GREEC IN 1989 AND RAY WAS THERE WITH ME. HE WAS TRULY A GREAT FRIEND AND A MENTOR TO MANY ARMWRESTLERS STILL COMPETING TODAY RIP MY OLD FRIEND YOU WILL BE MISSED GREATLY. RAY HAS 2 SONS RAY & SCOTT. HE FOUNDED THE DARLING CONSTRUCTION CO IN 1982."
Ray Darling vs Jason Vale - DADZ 1994
Inteview with Ray on armwrestling.com by Dave Devoto
Q. How long have you been armwrestling Ray?
A. 40 years if you count my armwrestling in the high school cafeteria.
Q. How did you get started in organized competitions?
A. In the late 70's I entered my first wristwrestling tournament.
Q. How did you finish?
A. I finished almost dead last. What a surprise for someone who could beat almost all competition in the bar rooms.
Q. When did you start winning?
A. From 1980 to 1983 I won several local tournaments but couldn't win any state or national titles. Something was keeping me from winning the bigger competitions, and that was training. So at the age of 39 I picked up the weights and started kicking butt.
Q. What was your toughest match?
A. Gene Tatti from Canada at WPAA World Championships in 1985. (6-minute match)
Q. How did the Yukon Jack tournaments get started?
A. In the summer of 1988 Yukon Jack representatives contacted me to put on a couple of tournaments as a marketing tool for their products. The first two contests were held in December 1988 in Albany, NY. They were a great success In 1989 I hosted a 9 city tour across the country, and the rest is history.
Q. Was Yukon Jack your greatest contribution to armwrestling?
A. It was one of them but I think taking the first armwrestling team to Russia in 1989 ranks right up there.
RAY DARLING - RIP...
Ray and Michael Selearis at Big Apple Grapple
Ray in action at Big Apple Grapple March 2002
Ray Darling enjoying himself at the World's Wristwrestling Championship in Petaluma, CA 1999
Ray with the winners of 1990 Yukon Jack Championships (2nd from the right)