Monika Duma is passing the baton... >>>

Monika Duma is passing the baton... # Armwrestling #

Our national pride, Monika Duma (especially so, considering her surname means “pride” in Polish), the boss of the Polish Armwrestling Federation referee panel, is passing the baton over. It’s sad news. The only consolation is that the person taking over her position is fit for the job. But about that – in the next piece.


In Polish, European and world armwrestling, some changes have been made. The Chief of the PAF referee panel, Monika Duma, judged her last match at the last Polish Cup. Unfortunately. The reason is simple – an overload of work and home chores. Well… It’s been a few years, Monika has created the “Polish referee standards”, standing out for its diligence and thoroughness. In Poland, she “brought up” and formed a big team, reliable and working at events on both the local and large scale. It’s time to introduce you to a person all of you already know, remember and will miss greatly.

It all happened in the crazy year of 2000. Igor Mazurenko was starting to build armwrestling in Poland. The first club, first athletes and first local competition, then some on a larger scale, and then it progressed farther and farther. Monika Duma was working out at the gym. Igor met Ania, his future wife. Monika and Ania had known each other for years. And just like that, by chance, Igor got Monika to train armwrestling. Monika became the Champion of Poland, she took part in World Championships too.

The next challenge was to come up with the Polish version of rules and the first group of trained referees. The great referee David Shead came to Poland in 2001. He held a very serious and precise training. You could say that it’s where it all started. The first group of Polish referees of this time were, besides Monika, people like Daniel Gajda, Wiktor Szyszkowski, Janusz Piechowski.

Monika says that she learnt a lot from David. It’s not hard to believe – he is still a referee “guru” up to date.

Then it took off… Monika liked judging and building structures in Poland. In 2006, in Japan, she got to the Masters rank.

PeSzy: What made you love being a referee so much?

Monika Duma: I liked it at once. Moreover, I love travelling so more often than not, these exotic trips were a great bonus.

PeSzy: How is today’s armwrestling different from the one from the beginning of the century?

Monika: It’s much more professional in every aspect, the athletes and referees know more and don’t make as many mistakes.

PeSzy: Is it harder to judge men or women?

Monika: It used to be women – now that everything is more professional, there’s no difference at all.

PeSzy: And how did you manage the “giants”?

Monika: When it comes to the bigger categories, it’s the easiest to set them up and judge.

PeSzy: There’s many competitors who are referees. What’s it like with them?

Monika: Competitors pay a little more attention to precision in set-ups.

PeSzy: Thank you for the talk. I’m sorry that such an era is coming to an end. I hope that we will see each other at events often.

Monika: I’m going to miss the emotions but I really wouldn’t be able to compromise work trips with my chores.


PeSzy: Let me sum up this “era”. I saw with my own two eyes how armwrestling began and grew in size and popularity, it improved sports-, organization- and referee-wise. I often stayed at the referee briefings and I know how precisely you analysed all of your cases. On behalf of and the entire armwrestling community – thank you for your work!

Anna Mazurenko – I don’t think I have to introduce her to you. So, how did it go, exactly?

Anna Mazurenko:

I met Monika in my first year of primary school – and we’ve been going through life together ever since… We got into armwrestling together. Me as an organizer, and her as a competitor at first and then a referee. Monika is very fair, objective and consequent. She has big expectations for herself and for others. I think it was the reason why she was such a good Main Referee. I’m sure that other referees who went through her “school of life” will agree. It’s not easy to become a referee in Poland, the procedures are restrictive and the training seems to never end. As a consequence, we have the best referee team in the world. Us, Poles, are invited to judge international competitions as well as national and local events all over Europe. Monika did a great deal of work and, above anything, she left behind heirs. We have a great referee team, our pride, people who are engaged in what they’re doing and who are passionate about it. And it’s not easy work at all because, as you know, the referee is always to blame. Thank you, Monika, for these 20 years, and of course congratulations to Judyta! The referees are in good hands!