Video: Reading, 'riting and 'restling

NBC Universal Anchors and Correspondents
By Josh Mankiewicz Correspondent
NBC News
updated 3/26/2007 1:17:52 PM ET 2007-03-26T17:17:52

Thumb war.

It's a battle as old as your childhood memories — a mano-a-mano contest with only one winner.

In San Francisco, that winner is usually Oscar Villalon, a three-time thumb-wrestling champion. His secret?

Oscar Villalon: Don't look at the actual battle. It kind of almost makes you look a little dorky when you do that.

Josh Mankiewicz: Right, because thumb wrestling does not make you look dorky.

Villalon: No, not at all (rolling his eyes).

From 9 to 5, Oscar's thumb gets a good workout on the space bar. It helps that he's also book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now he's written a book, a guide to thumb wrestling, complete with notches so you can thumb through it. Profits go to the 826 Valencia Foundation, which holds an annual thumb-wrestling competition — the one Oscar always wins hands down.

826 Valencia is a nonprofit drop-in center for kids who want to work on their writing.

"This is not something that is exclusive, but you know, something entirely available to them and they should seize," Oscar says.

Extra attention here makes a huge difference for students like Nancy Sanchez, who turned poor grades into A's and B's.

"If you go to school your teacher just helps you a little bit because there's more students," Sanchez says. "And here it's got kind of — you've got your own tutor to help you."

When it comes to wrestling, I need help. I read his book, but it took only seconds for Oscar to kick my ... thumb.

Josh: Ouch! Ow, that hurt.

Oscar: Losing hurts more.

One more victory for a bare-knuckled brawler -- single-handedly Making a Difference in a more basic digital age.

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