Inspire: Michelle Dougan

By Jan Berte


Who is 5’4”, weighs 160 pounds, is a resident of Syracuse, and won the World Arm Wrestling Championship title?

It is the amazing Michelle Dougan or otherwise known as the Black Scorpion. This name was given to her by a friend, Apache Chief Dan Carr, who saw her compete and it just stuck. This powerhouse woman has overcome many obstacles, and has made it to the top with vision and purpose.

Dougan’s arm wrestling journey started seven years ago. A certified personal trainer, she had endured two bouts of cancer, including having her thyroid removed. As she struggled through a slow and painful recovery, she felt defeated.

Four years into her recovery, her husband James and friend Bart Wood convinced her that she could fight it, and suggested she give arm wrestling a try. She slowly started her quest to become one of the world’s best female are wrestlers.

Dougan’s training consists of doing cardio seven days a week (walking for 30 minutes). She is in the gym weightlifting four times each week; coupled with three training sessions a week focused on stability, balance and arm wrestling training. She completes her training with a monthly arm wrestling session against men. The middleweight class she participates in is the 136-154 division.

“I need very strong hands, and carry hand grippers everywhere,” Dougan said. “Usually, during a competition, the time can run anywhere from 3 seconds to 30 seconds, but that is more on the long side.”

Michelle’s diet includes eating egg whites, peanut butter and oatmeal in the morning, salad and chicken or with some protein for lunch, and dinner is vegetables, white rice with some fish or chicken. Drinking 2 gallons of water per day is critical in keeping her hydrated and lean. She enjoys a good snack of peanut butter and bananas.

Her resume of winning state and national titles started in 2015, and within three years, she won the title as the Women’s World Championship Arm Wrestler in Las Vegas. She also won the arm wrestling championship at the Mr. Olympia event in the right and left hand middle weight division.

In 2022, she looks forward to representing the United States at the Top 8 Women of the World Arm Wrestling Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, one of the most prestigious events in the sport.

After overcoming two bouts of cancer, Dougan’s advice for women or anyone that needs inspiration is: “It doesn’t matter who you are, you can set a goal and reach it.”