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Arm-wrestle settles network battle

By CNN's Marianne Bray in Hong Kong

All eyes were on Ware (R) as the arm tussle ensued.
All eyes were on Ware (R) as the arm tussle ensued.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (CNN) -- Two New Zealand telecom bosses have resolved a network battle in a most unorthodox way -- using brute force to wrestle their way to an out-of-court settlement.

Unable to reach a deal on access to a mobile radio network, the chief executive of a Wellington-based telecom company challenged his counterpart from a rival firm to a best-of-three bouts arm-wrestling contest.

Worried that the relatively small nine-month dispute could get out of hand, Teamtalk boss, David Ware asked Auckland-based MCS Digital chief Allan Cosford to square off around the table.

The companies had taken their NZ$200,000 ($112,000) spat to the commerce commission who didn't resolve it, and a court battle was looming, Ware said.

"The whole thing was becoming a distraction," says Ware. "The process was becoming a lot more than the original dispute was worth. This was a win-win."

So last Friday, 42-year-old Ware and 45-year-old Cosford shed their suits and trundled down to a "low-rent box of a gym" in Mt. Eden, Auckland to let strength settle the score.

Quietly confident

Ware (L) was quiety confident heading into the match.
Ware (L) was quiety confident heading into the match.

"It could have got rather nasty and lawyers could have won," Cosford said of the row over MCS's bid to win access to TeamTalk's network.

"I took it (the wrestling) as a great gesture and reciprocated in kind."

In front of around 60 spectators the two faced off, hands interlocked and elbows firmly planted on a table, bidding to force each other's arm down.

"He was shorter than me and an accountant so I was quietly confident I would win," says Ware, of his arm-wrestling debut.

"I'm a bit heavier than him."

Ware won the first bout, which according to both parties, seemed to go on forever, but then faded after that, with Cosford coming back to pin his opponent down in the second and third rounds.

Steroid accusation

"I got him in the end because of persistence," said Cosford of his 2-1 victory. "My shoulder told the news for the next two days."

Ware seemed a little put out by the loss, accusing Cosford of ingesting illegal substances.

"Between rounds 2 and 3, Allan took his ventolin (asthmatic inhaler) and I reckon there were steroids in it," Ware said in jest of his loss.

But Cosford refuted the performance enhancing allegations, saying the two beers he had before the bout to ease his anxiety "probably helped," as did "rugby training from a few too many years ago."

While Cosford said the wrestle was a "damned good way to settle a score," with both contestants fielding sore arms, they will look to other options in future.

"Next time I'll use the child's game, stone-paper-scissors," said a defeated Ware.

Cosford advises companies to try to resolve their issues before resorting to arm-wrestling, which "is not that easy."

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