Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival

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The theatre was dark. The crowd was quiet.

It was the calm before the storm at the arm wrestling event that pitted the mayors of Belen, Bosque Farms and Peralta against each other for bragging rights of the 2012 Battle of the Mayors crown.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Peralta Mayor Bryan ‘The Machine’ Olguin battles Bosque Farms Mayor Bob ‘The Blaster’ Knowlton at the Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival in Belen. Olguin won the second annual Battle of the Mayors arm wrestling competition Saturday.

The reigning champion, Peralta Mayor Bryan “The Machine” Olguin, drank a glass of Budweiser at the start of the night and was confident even before he entered his first match.

“It’s about the will to want to win — the will not to want to be embarrassed,” Olguin said. “I think I am expected to win, now. It’s for Peralta. I think it makes (the town) look a little bit better.”

Olguin faced two other mayors — Belen’s Rudy “The Rock” Jaramillo and Bosque Farms’ Bob “The Blaster” Knowlton.

Jaramillo said he already made improvements from last year as a guaranteed top-three finisher. Jaramillo was one of three mayors who competed in the contest.

Los Lunas Mayor Robert Vialpando and former Belen Mayor Ronnie Torres decided not to participate in the 2012 event.

Jaramillo said he was “hyperventilating” just before Saturday’s event.

He said he was in the event to win it.

“I’m going to try,” Jaramillo said. “That’s why I am going to participate.”

Bob “The Blaster” Knowlton brought sticks of dynamite and had specially made shirts that featured his trademark mustache.

Right before the match, he and Jaramillo stood in front of a table with friends and family members while Olguin “The Machine” was upstairs and “aloof” before the match.

Knowlton, a black belt, didn’t seem worried about winning and was a man of little words as he prepared to do battle.

“They will be psyched out by the mustache,” Knowlton said.

Brent Ruffner-News-Bulletin photo: Juliana Cuellar, 4, of Belen, eats blue cotton candy during Saturday’s Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival as the Belen water tower stands behind.

At 5:13 p.m., the final warm-up was announced.

Knowlton could be seen flexing his arm as he walked on stage. Trainer/referee Steven Storms told him to do “whatever is comfortable” in the midst of the contest.

As the introductions were announced, each respective mayor brought their own swagger to the ring.

Knowlton stormed on stage to AC/DC’s “TNT,” and Jaramillo went on stage to the “Rocky” theme song following a short span of time when Olguin jumped on stage.

Fans cheered for Jaramillo shortly before the match where Knowlton and Olguin squared off.

Olguin quickly handed Knowlton his first loss after a short three-second arm wresting match.

Next, Jaramillo faced Olguin in a match the announcer claimed would “be an upset in the making.”

In about six seconds, Olguin again had a victory over “The Rock” Jaramillo.

The next match pitted Knowlton against Jaramillo in an evenly-matched bout. For nearly 20 seconds, the two mayors stood at a standstill with neither one looking to have the upperhand.

At one point, the match got so intense that Jaramillo hooked his right leg around the table to get more leverage on his opponent.

Then, it was over.

“The Blaster” ended it with a quick jolt of his wrist to leave Jaramillo without a victory.

After the matches were over, Olguin was again champion and Knowlton, the runner-up.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Dozens of motorcycle riders were escorted down Becker Avenue on Saturday as they began the Poker Run at the Rio Abajo Becker Street Festival.

Olguin said it “was God’s will” that he claimed victory for the second straight year and that “he had to” defend his crown.

All of the mayors said the event was a chance for leadership of Valencia County to come together.

Jaramillo said he liked the event.

“It was all in good fun,” he said.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.