Arvo Haavisto took up wrestling in 1918 and rose to be one of the best Finnish freestyle welterweight wrestlers in the mid-1920s. During his career, Haavisto competed at two major international tournaments and medaled in both. He won bronze in freestyle lightweight at the 1924 Olympics and gold in freestyle welterweight at the 1928 Olympics. He also captured four Finnish titles: in 1925 and 1927 in freestyle welterweight, in 1925 in Greco-Roman lightweight and in 1926 in freestyle middleweight. After finishing his sporting career, Haavisto worked as a wrestling coach and referee, serving as a wrestling referee at the 1936 Olympics. Since 1992 an annual memorial Greco-Roman wrestling tournament in his name has been held in Ilmajoki.