Hilo’s Paul Abiley is an avid weight lifter, and built like a mountain of muscle. He’s got a background of toughness.
The 40-year-old is about 6 feet and around 260 pounds, and the former mixed martial arts fighter finished third in the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s 2nd annual Summer Jam strongman event in July.
He competed in the Resolution Way Foundation/BISAC’s inaugural ARMageddon Arm Wrestling Competition on Saturday at Afook-Chinen Civic, which also hosted a concert by Sudden Rush. Abiley fit in for several reasons, especially for the event’s main message.
Those who showed up at Hilo Civic were treated to free admission. Resolution Way Foundation president Andrew Stinnett asked his sponsors to drop the $20 admission because of the fallout from Tropical Storm Iselle. Even his house suffered damage.
“We’ve only had arm wrestling in bars, and wanted to have a more friendly and meaningful event,” Stinnett said. “It’s about an awareness for bullying. Arm wrestling is about taking down a bully. Just because you’re a big, massive guy you don’t have to use that as a negative. We want something positive, and encourage people to do something athletic and positive, like arm wrestling or MMA.”
It may be hard to believe, but Abiley, who competed in the super heavyweight division, was bullied as a youth.
“I went through it at a young age,” he said. “I know how it feels. I stood my ground and it made me the man I am today. I keep myself fit, and be humble to all, and try to help when I can.”
He has three children, and noted his 8-year-old daughter went through a period of bullying. Abiley’s message to his daughter was to handle it the right way.
“She had little conflicts in school where a boy did this to her,” he said. “I told her to tell her teacher. If it keeps coming out, then I would go down and talk to them.
“Bullying is about bad blood and being negative. We want everybody to be positive, and in good spirits.”
Despite being a rookie, Abiley was in good spirits about his first official run at arm wrestling.
“I’m training all the time at the gym. It’s to test your strength in a fun way, and a chance to get together and enjoy it,” he said.
It’s a mission for Stinnett and his organization to stamp out bullying, a reason he brought in pro arm wrestler Michael “Monster” Todd and his wife Rebecca, the No. 2 bantamweight contender. Stinnett is also working with a national anti-bullying organization, pacers.org.
They went to Waiakea Intermediate to give a presentation about bullying. Then it turned into something far more meaningful. It was a touching moment for Stinnett when he saw Rebecca Todd connect with several girls, who opened up to her.
“Now girls are bullying with name calling and taunting on Facebook and Instagram, and girls on the mainland are committing suicide,” Stinnett said. “We want to take this island wide, and the message is watch how you speak.
“Words can be harmful and life-damaging. We want to tell bullies to stop it now because we don’t want it to be an impact in the long run. Our sign looks like a fist bump with a diamond in the middle.
It’s about coming together as friends. Instead of fighting, we want unity.”
Note: For results, visit Resolution Way Foundation’s Facebook page.