World's Strongest Man
For the album, see World's Strongest Man (album).
The World's Strongest Man is an international strongman competition held every year. Organized by American event management company IMG, a subsidiary of Endeavor, it is broadcast in the US during summers and in the UK around the end of December each year. Competitors qualify based on placing in the top three at the four to eight Giants Live events each year.
The current event sponsor is SBD Apparel. Previous sponsors include Tachi Palace, Coregenx, Commerce Hotel and Casino,DAF Trucks, Tonka, MET-Rx, and PartyPoker.com.
The event has a number of rival and parallel competitions with which it is sometimes confused, including the Strongman Super Series, the now defunct IFSA Strongman World Championships (run from 2005 to 2007 after the International Federation of Strength Athletes parted company with WSM in 2004) and Strongman Champions League.
There are now several documentaries available that chart the history of WSM. The first major one is Worlds Strongest Man - Thirty Years Of Pain from 2008, celebrating the 30th anniversary. In 2017, a series of videos were released in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the contest.
The concept behind "The World's Strongest Men", as it was originally named, was developed in 1977 for CBS by Langstar Inc. David Webster, a Scot who later received an OBE for his services to sport, was the head coordinator of the competition from its inception. Dr. Douglas Edmunds, seven-time Scottish shot and discus champion and twice world caber champion, worked with Webster and when Webster retired, Edmunds took over. These two men were responsible for inviting the competitors and choosing the events. In the meantime, in 1982, CBS sold the rights to the BBC, who in turn sold the rights to TWI. In 1987, the WSM was not held for the only time since its inception. In that year, the first and only non-team Pure Strength competition was held, but it was not part of the WSM franchise.
For the first several contests, well-known American color commentators and analysts were used on the network broadcast. These included Brent Musburger, Tom Brookshier, and acknowledged strength authority, journalist and author Dr. Terry Todd. Todd was a former powerlifting world record holder himself and went on to establish the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in 1990. He also was asked to establish the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2001 by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This competition has the largest purse of any Strongman contest, with a $72,000+ top prize in 2017.
During this early period, the contest ranks consisted mostly of American football players, powerlifters, and bodybuilders and were held in American locations until it was moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1983. Two-time winner Bruce Wilhelm (USA) retired and was succeeded by the massive Don Reinhoudt in 1979, a 162 kg (357 lb) heavyweight powerlifter of the USA. Reinhoudt still holds several unequipped world records in powerlifting to this day.
In 1979, newcomer and legendary powerlifter Bill Kazmaier (USA) made his appearance, coming in 3rd after leading much of the competition. He dominated the sport to such an extent from 1980 to 1982, winning by a record 28 points in 1980. He reportedly was excluded from the competition for five years, after becoming the first man to win three consecutive WSM titles. He set prodigious marks with a 478.5 kg (1055 lb) silver dollar coin deadlift, 439.5 kg (969 lb) squat (smith machine), and a then-record 165.6 kg (365 lb) log lift with a rough, unbalanced log. This eventually earned him a place in the WSM Hall of Fame.
After Kazmaier left, his nearest rival, former Olympian Geoff Capes from the UK, traded wins with the Icelandic powerlifter Jón Páll Sigmarsson, with Capes winning in 1983 and 1985, and Sigmarsson in 1984 and 1986. Sigmarsson raised the popularity and awareness of the event to new levels. He died three years after winning his 4th and final WSM in 1990. In 1987, Sigmarsson would defeat Capes and Kazmaier in Pure Strength. Kazmaier returned to WSM in 1988, but could not dethrone Sigmarsson, who won his 3rd title. The only other man to claim the title in this era was Jamie Reeves, which he did in 1989. Reeves was injured in 1990, as Sigmarsson narrowly claimed his 4th title ahead of O.D. Wilson, who was leading by 5.5 points going into the final event, a controversial 200m race with 100kg on the back. Sigmarsson won the event, and the much larger Wilson finished way down the field, meaning Jon Pall became the first man to claim four titles.
In 1995, Edmunds and Webster, along with representatives from the competitors including Jamie Reeves, Ilkka Kinnunen and Marcel Mostert formed a governing body called the International Federation of Strength Athletes ("IFSA"). The IFSA began organizing bespoke events, such as the IFSA European Championships and also took the lead in working with the BBC and with TWI to organize the World's Strongest Man competition. For almost a decade, the IFSA and WSM were inextricably mixed, but this changed in 2004. The InvestGroup Ventures' sports rights management arm, InvestGroup Sports Management, invested heavily into IFSA and this led to the creation of IFSA Strongman. The strategy was to acquire most of the international assets and properties relating to the strongman sport. In essence, this was a new organisation with some, such as Magnus Samuelsson, describing it as "a new company ... with the same name as our old federation". The attempt at dominance was not well received by TWI and disagreement ensued leading to a split in the sport. Previously, in 2001, the IFSA in its former guise had entered an agreement with World Class Events (WCE), headed by Ulf Bengtsson, to run the Super Series. This Super Series was designed to award the World Championship title, but also acted as a qualifying vehicle for the WSM. When strongman split in 2004, the Super Series sided with TWI forming a rival federation to the IFSA. With the WSM being a TWI owned event, IFSA Holdings announced its own World Championships for 2005, to be held in Quebec, and thus from that point had no involvement in the WSM contest.
The split with IFSA, which banned its registered athletes from competing at WSM, meant that not all the recognized best strength athletes in the world were eligible to compete. However, the reputation of WSM as the premier event maintained its lure for broadcasting purposes. In recent years, the competition has been broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, TSN, Televisa Deportes and Five, and currently CBS Sports Network in the USA. The longevity of the contest in strength athletics and its high levels of TV exposure over the years has led to it being described as "the granddaddy of all strongman contests".
In recent years, to curb injuries, the contest events have included a certain amount of athleticism rather than being about raw strength. This has led some critics to say that contests such as the Arnold Strongman Classic or Fortissimus are the true strongest man competitions. However, it is routinely described as "the Worlds" by top strongman competitors and despite the critics, it is the leading brand name in the field. No other strongman contest commands close to the WSM's levels of TV exposure. The World's Strongest Man claims a viewership of 220 million.
In the early 1990s, Magnús Ver Magnússon (Iceland) won the title four times (1991, 1994–1996) and became the second and only man along with the legendary Bill Kazmaier to win three consecutive titles. He came into the 1991 contest as the reserve and ended up winning the show, and is the only man to do so.
Magnús would also finish 2nd in both 1992 and 1993. The 1992 contest was won by Dutchman Ted van der Parre, who at 7 feet tall, is the tallest man ever to win or compete at the World's Strongest Man. In one of the closest contests in the competition's history, just 1 point separated Ted in 1st from Magnús and Jamie Reeves, who tied for 2nd. Conversely, in 1993, Welshman Gary Taylor became the shortest man to ever win the contest at just 6 feet tall, defeating Magnús and Riku Kiri of Finland.
Magnús would finally get his second title in 1994, defeating Austrian Manfred Hoeberl in the closely fought contest, with Kiri finishing 3rd for the second year running. He retained his title the following year, with South African Gerrit Badenhorst and Finland's Marko Varalahti completing the podium. In 1996, Magnús made it to three titles in a row, with his closest competitor Kiri pulling out of the final event due to injury, but still finishing in second. Badenhorst made the podium for the second year in a row. Remarkably, none of these three men would make the final the following year.
The late 1990s saw Scandinavian countries taking control of the title, and this lasted until 2002. The relatively small 125 kg (275 lb) but dynamic Jouko Ahola from Finland won two titles in three years during this period. He later became a referee in WSM/strongman events and an actor. Sweden's Magnus Samuelsson would claim the 1998 title, becoming the only man to defeat Ahola in a WSM contest. Following Ahola's retirement, fellow Finn Janne Virtanen would improve on his 1999 runner up finish and take the title for himself in 2000. The final Scandinavian in this group to take the title was Norwegian Svend Karlsen, who did so in 2001.
The early to late 2000s were dominated by five-time Polish winner Mariusz Pudzianowski, earning the nickname: "The Dominator". Looking muscular and defined, he temporarily redefined what a strongman was in the world's eyes. At about 142 kg (313 lb) at max weight, he routinely beat men much bigger than he was. He combined speed and massive strength in one package. Indeed, he was so dominant, that three of his five championships (2003, 2005 and 2007) were won with an event to spare. His final win was in 2008 as bigger and taller men came into the sport.
Pudzianowski's first title was in 2002, as the era of Scandinavian dominance came to end, with Lithuanian Žydrūnas Savickas and Latvian Raimonds Bergmanis completing the podium. He would defend his title in 2003 in spectacular fashion. He won 4 of the 7 events, and claiming two 2nd places and a 3rd place in the remaining events to finish with 66 out of a possible 70 points, and 20 ahead of runner up Savickas. 2003 was also the first appearance of Ukrainian Vasyl Virastyuk, who finished 3rd.
In 2004, Savickas and Virastyuk were tied for the lead heading into the final event, the Atlas Stones. Virastyuk would defeat Savickas to claim the title, with the Lithuanian finishing as runner up for the 3rd year in a row. Originally, Mariusz Pudzianowski finished in 3rd but was later disqualified after failing a drugs test, meaning Magnus Samuelsson would once again finish on the podium.
Following the split of IFSA and WSM, most of the athletes would stick with IFSA. Pudzianowski was, in fact, the only athlete from the 2004 contest to compete at WSM in 2005. He would win the contest with an event to spare ahead of runner up Jesse Marunde, who with 3rd place Dominic Filiou became the first non-Europeans to reach the podium of WSM since O.D. Wilson in 1990.
The 2006 competition ended in dramatic fashion: in the final, Mariusz Pudzianowski started well by coming tied-1st in the Deadlift and winning the Power Stairs easily; but by then winning the last 5 events in a row, Phil Pfister edged out the Pole in the final event, the Atlas stones. Pfister became the first American to win the competition since 1982, and the first American ever to win the competition outside the United States.
Pudzianowski regained his crown in 2007, winning the contest with an event to spare. Fellow Pole Sebastian Wenta claimed 2nd place, with Britain's Terry Hollands rounding out the podium.
In 2008, Derek Poundstone had a large lead over Mariusz Pudzianowski after 3 events but Pudzianowski tied the Deadlift event for first place and then won the crucial Plane Pull to narrow the gap. Pudzianowski and Poundstone then battled for the title of World's Strongest Man in the last event, the Atlas Stones. Pudzianowski blistered through the event and was able to keep pace with the heavier Poundstone. On the final stone, Pudzianowski was able to capitalize on Poundstone's drop and clinched his fifth title.
In 2009, the long-running IFSA/WSM split had ended resulting in finally having all of the top strongmen from around the world all in the same contest. Two-time IFSA World Champion Žydrūnas Savickas would return to the contest after 5 years, and claimed his first WSM title, with defending champion Mariusz coming in second in his final ever WSM contest. Another up and comer Brian Shaw placed third.
Žydrūnas Savickas repeated his victory in 2010, winning by countback against Brian Shaw in the closest finish in WSM history. Top IFSA competitor and fan favorite Mikhail Koklyaev finished third in his WSM debut. Savickas set a new world record in the Giant Wooden Log Lift with a lift of 210 kg (460 lb).
In 2011, Brian Shaw and two-time defending champion Žydrūnas Savickas were tied on points going into the final event. Shaw defeated Savickas in the Atlas Stones, winning his first title. Over the next four years, the pair would trade the title back and forth. Going into the 2012 contest, Shaw suffered from nerve damage in his hands and slipped down to fourth place. This opened the door for Savickas to capture his third WSM title, with fellow Lithuanian Vytautas Lalas coming in second and the Icelandic giant Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson finishing third. Savickas set a new world record in the Log Lift with a lift of 220 kg (490 lb). Shaw would regain his title in 2013, ahead of Savickas (2nd) and Björnsson (3rd). The 2014 contest was one of the closest battles in WSM history, with these three men separated by just two points going into the Atlas Stones. Savickas clinched the title by just half a point ahead of Björnsson, and just 3 ahead of Shaw, becoming the fourth man to win four titles. This victory made Savickas the oldest athlete to ever win the title at the age of 38 years and 8 months.
Shaw would defeat Savickas once again in 2015, with the title coming down to the two of them in the final event for the 4th time. Björnsson finished on the podium yet again, with Britain's Eddie Hall coming in 4th. Savickas didn't compete in 2016, as Shaw successfully defended his title and joined Savickas on four titles. Björnsson made a 5th podium finish as the runner up, as Hall continued his steady rise to finish 3rd, despite placing last in the first event.
In the 2017 contest, two four-time winners (Brian Shaw and Žydrūnas Savickas) competed head-to-head for the first time since the 2015 contest, but Eddie Hall won his first title over runner-up Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson by 1 point and was the first person to win for the UK since Welshman Gary Taylor in 1993. Hall also set a new strongman deadlift world record with a regular bar at 472.5 kg (1,042 lb) performed with just straps. The contest was, however, not without controversy. Björnsson claimed that he had completed one more rep in the Viking Press than the judge awarded him. In 2020, former World's Strongest Man producer, Andrew B. Quinn, claimed the judges were, in fact, lenient on Björnsson. He cited multiple examples of Björnsson not following the rules of the Viking Press, which state that athletes must wait for the "down" signal with each rep, and not "double dip".
The 2018 contest was held in Manila, Philippines for the first time in its history. Eddie Hall, winner of the 2017 World's Strongest Man, did not defend his title. The contest was won by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson of Iceland, who finally clinched the title after three 3rd place and three 2nd place finishes, and became the first Icelander since Magnús Ver Magnússon in 1996 to win the title. Mateusz Kieliszkowski of Poland finished second and four-time winner Brian Shaw of the United States third. Žydrūnas Savickas, also a four-time winner, finished tenth after withdrawing in event four due to an injury.
The 2019 contest was held in Bradenton, Florida. The contest was won by Martins Licis of the United States who defeated defending champion Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson of Iceland. Björnsson suffered an injury, plantar fasciitis, in the qualifying heats but was able to complete the competition and finish 3rd on the podium, with Kieliszkowski finishing as the runner up for the second consecutive year. This year also saw brothers Tom and Luke Stoltman both qualify for the final, becoming the first brothers to both reach the final in history. A new format which included only 25 instead of 30 competitors was used and the entire competition only ran for 4 days instead of the usual 5+. The final was reduced to 5 events and took only one day. The new format was designed to streamline the editing for a quicker television turnaround.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 contest, initially planned to be held in May at Bradenton, was postponed to November instead. In place from May through July was a special series called "World's Strongest Man: Home Edition" on Snapchat Discover, where participating strongman athletes filmed themselves at home recreating strongman events in creative ways, and fans could vote for their favourites. The series was hosted by Eddie Hall. Rongo Keene was declared the winner, earning him a $10,000 prize.
The 2020 contest was to be held on Anna Maria Island from 11 to 15 November, with no physical spectators allowed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Because of bad weather conditions brought about by Hurricane Eta, the first two days were instead pushed back a day, removing the rest day planned on 13 November. For the first time in WSM history, none of the podium finishers from the previous year (Mariusz Pudzianowski was originally a podium finisher in 2004 before failing a drugs test) would compete in the contest. (Both Licis and Kieliszkowski were injured, whereas Björnsson had retired to focus on his boxing match with Eddie Hall). The contest was won by Oleksii Novikov, who set a new partial deadlift record of 537.5 kg (1,185 lbs) during the finals.Tom Stoltman came in 2nd place winning 3 of 6 events, while Jean-François Caron came in 3rd.
The 2021 edition of the contest took place in Sacramento, California from 15 to 20 June. Defending champion Novikov failed to advance from his qualifying heat, after finishing 4th in a tightly fought group which saw just one point separating 1st and 4th position. Tom Stoltman would improve on his second place finish the year before to claim his first title after defeating four-time champion Brian Shaw head-to-head in the Atlas Stones, and became the first Scotsman to win the title. Shaw would finish second, his best placing since his 4th title in 2016, and his first podium finish since 2018, while Canada's Maxime Boudreault would place third in his first WSM final.
For a complete timeline, see the official WSM site:
Competition format and commonly contested events
Initially, eight men representing various sports and strength disciplines were invited to compete against each other in unique events designed to test each individual to the fullest extent. The earliest events were relatively crude, but new ideas were introduced over the years. Some events had a basis in both powerlifting and Highland Games heavy events, and others were created based on mythological feats of strength. There are a number of events that make up each competition.
- Loading Race – Several heavy objects, each weighing 220–360 pounds (100–163 kg), are loaded onto a truck bed or a similar platform over a course of about 50 feet (15 m).
- Atlas Stones – Five heavy round stones increasing in weight in the range of 220–350 pounds (100–159 kg) are lifted and set on platforms. When the stones were first introduced to the competition, it was an individual event and the platforms were all of equal height. The modern Atlas Stones event takes place on a 16–33-foot (5–10 m) long course and the competitors participate two at a time. There are three current variations to the Atlas Stones event. In one, the stones are placed directly in front of the platforms and the competitors must simply lift and place them, generally the lightest stone being placed on the highest platform. In another, the stones are placed in a diagonal line, with the first stone being in front of the first platform, and each subsequent stone is set farther back from the course, with the heaviest stone being farthest away (or vice versa). The third variation sees the five platforms in a straight vertical line with the stones in front of each, and the competitors must place the stones and then move a short distance to the next one. In recent competitions, this is typically the final event. In the 2015 competition, the heaviest stone was 209 kilos (461 lbs).
- Vehicle Pull – Vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, boxcars, buses, or planes are pulled across a 100-foot (30 m) course as fast as possible. One variation sees the competitors pull the object with a rope toward them. Another has them attached to a rope which is attached to a vehicle, while they use another rope to pull themselves down the course. A third involves no ropes, with the competitors pulling the vehicle while connected to a harness. The 2007 competition featured pulling a fire truck (possibly a nod to 2006 champion Phil Pfister, a professional firefighter) and the 2008 qualifying rounds featured a coal truck (a reference to the coal mining industry in West Virginia, where the competition was held).
- Overhead Press – The heaviest possible load is pressed overhead, or a lighter weight is used for repetitions.
- Fingal's Fingers – A series of hinged poles ("fingers") are lifted starting from a horizontal resting position and flipped over to the other side. The poles get progressively heavier and longer. The event is scored by time and by how many of the poles a competitor was able to flip over. The event takes its name from Fingal, a mythological Gaelic hunter-warrior.
- Power Stairs – A series of three Duck Walk implements ranging from 400–600 pounds (181–272 kg) are lifted, step by step, to the top of a flight of stairs.
- Squat – Squatting large weights, such as 900 pounds (410 kg) of bricks, a car, or people on a platform. Recently, an apparatus has been used that drops weighted kegs into a cage, one at a time after each successful lift (the event, in this case, is scored by weight instead of repetitions). The athlete will continue until completion, failure or time expires.
- Dead Lift – Lifting weights or vehicles up to about 1,100 pounds (500 kg) straight off the ground until knees lock in a standing position. Lift is for either maximum weight, maximum repetitions with a fixed weight, or for time whilst holding a single repetition. In recent years, a similar keg-loaded apparatus to that described above for the squat has been used.
- Keg Toss – Competitors must throw kegs, of increasing weight, over a 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m) high bar. A variation using kettlebells was added to the 2015 competition, while in 2017, gold bricks were used.
- Weight Throw – A 50-pound (23 kg) weight is thrown overhead with the goal being to clear a barrier above the competitor. The goal is to throw the weight the highest.
- Car Carry – Competitors stand inside a stripped-down automobile, which is missing some of its roof and all of its bottom and interior, and carry it across a 25-meter (82 ft) course. Competitors are scored by time, then distance once the time-limit expires.
- Hercules Hold – The athlete stands between two hinged pillars, gripping handles that prevent the pillars from falling to the side. The pillars are held for the longest possible time.
- Carry and Drag – An anchor and a chain are carried to the end of a set distance, where they must be attached to each other and then dragged back the same distance.
- Farmer's Walk – Competitors carry heavy objects (usually anvils) weighing from 275 to 375 lbs (125 to 170 kg) in each hand for a set distance, and compete for the fastest time. A variation involves the use of a heavy frame with parallel handles or heavy objects attached to handles, and another involves much heavier weights (referred to as the Giant Farmer's Walk). This event is usually done on the same course as the Carry and Drag and is conducted as a race, but one competition in Sanya, China saw the competitors compete individually carrying the weights up a small set of stairs. The 2001 competition saw the competitors race two at a time along a course requiring several turns.
- Super Yoke – Apparatus composed of a crossbar and two uprights. The uprights each have a heavy weight attached to them, such as a refrigerator or diesel engine, and the competitors must carry the yoke on their shoulders for a short distance.
- Husafell Stone – A flat, somewhat triangular lifting stone weighing around 400 lb (182 kg) is carried high on the chest for a set distance or for overall distance within a time limit. The stone is named for a famous one in Iceland, which actually was brought out for use when the competition was held in Iceland. During some years which the competition took place in Africa, this event was known as the Africa Stone and the stone was in the shape of the continent as it appears on a map. The 2017 competition called this event the Elephant Carry, and the stone was shaped like the head and face of an African elephant.
- Duck Walk – An object with a handle is carried, suspended between the legs, over a set course.
- Log Throw / Caber toss – A five-meter-long (16+1⁄2 foot) log is thrown for distance or for height over a bar. When thrown for distance, the event is conducted similarly to the normal caber toss but with distance replacing technique. The length of the throw is determined by measuring the distance between where the competitor's toes were when he tossed and the tip of the log, based on where it first landed.
- Tug of War – One on one tug of war in a single-elimination tournament. In the first few competitions, this determined the champion and served as the final event.
- Pole Pushing – One on one pole pushing in a Sumo-style ring in a single-elimination tournament. The pole has handles at either end.
- Crucifix – Weights are held straight out at each side for as long a time as possible. A common variation entails weights being held out in front, using either one or both hands.
- Giant Dumbbell Press – Single-handed dumbbells are hoisted from the ground onto the competitor's shoulder, from where, with one hand, he must raise it vertically over his head and lockout his arm. With four weights between 100 and 115 kilograms (220 and 254 lb), scoring is based on time and number of successful lifts.
- Basque Circle/Stone Circle/Conan's Wheel – A competitor takes hold of the handle of a metal basket by placing the handle on his forearms. Inside the basket, usually, is at least 600 pounds (270 kg) of heavy stones (the 2015 WSM replaced the stones with pineapples and at least one earlier competition used a car). Holding the basket in the crook of his elbow, the competitor carries the basket in a clockwise manner over a platform with a 25-meter (82 ft) circumference. The event is contested for distance.
- Norse Hammers – Added to the competition for the first time in 2015, the Norse Hammers is similar to the Fingal's Fingers event. Three hammers, shaped like those of Norse god Thor, must be flipped over. Unlike the Fingal Fingers, the competitors must lift the hammer from the side before pushing it up. There are three hammers, weighing 350, 365, and 380 pounds, respectively. In order to complete the event, all three hammers must be flipped within the time limit.
- Circus Barbell – Similar to the Overhead Press, this event gets its name from the apparatus used which resembles the classically shaped barbell used by circus strongmen. The barbell, which weighs 150 kilograms (330 lb), consists of two heavy spheres with a thick, flexible bar that makes it difficult for the competitors to lift. The event is conducted for reps within a time limit and the movement to complete the lift resembles a clean and press lift.
Beginning in 2017, the qualifying format was changed. After five events, the leader clinches a spot in the final while the last place competitor is eliminated from the competition. To determine the second finalist of the group, a new event called Last Man Standing was added. An Atlas Stone is placed at the center of an octagon and, one at a time, the competitors must lift the stone and drop it over a 55-inch metal bar. They each have twenty seconds to do this, and once one cannot complete the drop, he is eliminated and the next highest scoring competitor entering the event takes his turn. The competition continues in stepladder fashion, beginning with the fourth and fifth place competitors, until only one remains; that competitor is declared the winner of the event and secures the second place in the final for the qualifying group.
The 2018 competition used the Atlas Stones event to determine the second finalist. The three lowest scorers were eliminated from the competition, and the second and third place finishers squared off with the winner advancing to the final.
The 2019 competition saw the return of Last Man Standing, but instead of featuring the remaining four competitors, only the second and third place competitors square off to determine the second finalist.
|Year||Winner||Runner-up||Third place||Host city|
|2021||Tom Stoltman||Brian Shaw||Maxime Boudreault||Sacramento, California|
|2020||Oleksiy Novikov||Tom Stoltman||Jean-François Caron||Bradenton, Florida|
|2019||Martins Licis[note 1]||Mateusz Kieliszkowski||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Bradenton, Florida|
|2018||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Mateusz Kieliszkowski||Brian Shaw||Manila, Philippines|
|2017||Eddie Hall||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Brian Shaw||Gaborone, Botswana|
|2016||Brian Shaw (4)||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Eddie Hall||Kasane, Botswana|
|2015||Brian Shaw (3)||Žydrūnas Savickas||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Putrajaya, Malaysia|
|2014||Žydrūnas Savickas (4)||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Brian Shaw||Los Angeles, California|
|2013||Brian Shaw (2)||Žydrūnas Savickas||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Sanya, China|
|2012||Žydrūnas Savickas (3)||Vytautas Lalas||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Los Angeles, California|
|2011||Brian Shaw||Žydrūnas Savickas||Terry Hollands||Wingate, North Carolina|
|2010||Žydrūnas Savickas (2)||Brian Shaw||Mikhail Koklyaev||Sun City, South Africa|
|2009||Žydrūnas Savickas||Mariusz Pudzianowski||Brian Shaw||Valletta, Malta|
|2008||Mariusz Pudzianowski (5)||Derek Poundstone||Dave Ostlund||Charleston, West Virginia|
|2007||Mariusz Pudzianowski (4)||Sebastian Wenta||Terry Hollands||Anaheim, California|
|2006||Phil Pfister||Mariusz Pudzianowski||Don Pope||Sanya, China|
|2005||Mariusz Pudzianowski (3)||Jesse Marunde||Dominic Filiou||Chengdu, China|
|2004||Vasyl Virastyuk||Žydrūnas Savickas||Magnus Samuelsson||Nassau, Bahamas|
|2003||Mariusz Pudzianowski (2)||Žydrūnas Savickas||Vasyl Virastyuk||Victoria Falls, Zambia|
|2002||Mariusz Pudzianowski||Žydrūnas Savickas||Raimonds Bergmanis||Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
|2001||Svend Karlsen||Magnus Samuelsson||Janne Virtanen||Victoria Falls, Zambia|
|2000||Janne Virtanen||Svend Karlsen||Magnus Samuelsson||Sun City, South Africa|
|1999||Jouko Ahola (2)||Janne Virtanen||Svend Karlsen||Valletta, Malta|
|1998||Magnus Samuelsson||Jouko Ahola||Wout Zijlstra||Tangier, Morocco|
|1997||Jouko Ahola||Flemming Rasmussen||Magnus Samuelsson||Primm Valley Resort, Nevada|
|1996||Magnús Ver Magnússon (4)||Riku Kiri||Gerrit Badenhorst||Port Louis, Mauritius|
|1995||Magnús Ver Magnússon (3)||Gerrit Badenhorst||Marko Varalahti||Nassau, Bahamas|
|1994||Magnús Ver Magnússon (2)||Manfred Hoeberl||Riku Kiri||Sun City, South Africa|
|1993||Gary Taylor||Magnús Ver Magnússon||Riku Kiri||Orange, France|
|1992||Ted van der Parre||Magnús Ver Magnússon||Jamie Reeves||Reykjavík, Iceland|
|1991||Magnús Ver Magnússon||Henning Thorsen||Gary Taylor||Tenerife, Canary Islands|
|1990||Jón Páll Sigmarsson (4)||O.D. Wilson||Ilkka Nummisto||Joensuu, Finland|
|1989||Jamie Reeves||Ab Wolders||Jón Páll Sigmarsson||San Sebastián, Spain|
|1988||Jón Páll Sigmarsson (3)||Bill Kazmaier||Jamie Reeves||Budapest, Hungary|
Not Held[note 2]
|1986||Jón Páll Sigmarsson (2)||Geoff Capes||Ab Wolders||Nice, France|
|1985||Geoff Capes (2)||Jón Páll Sigmarsson||Cees de Vreugd||Cascais, Portugal|
|1984||Jón Páll Sigmarsson||Ab Wolders||Geoff Capes||Mora, Sweden|
|1983||Geoff Capes||Jón Páll Sigmarsson||Simon Wulfse||Christchurch, New Zealand|
|1982||Bill Kazmaier (3)||Tom Magee||John Gamble||Magic Mountain, California|
|1981||Bill Kazmaier (2)||Geoff Capes||Dave Waddington||Magic Mountain, California|
|1980||Bill Kazmaier||Lars Hedlund||Geoff Capes||Vernon, New Jersey|
|1979||Don Reinhoudt||Lars Hedlund||Bill Kazmaier||Universal Studios, California|
|1978||Bruce Wilhelm (2)||Don Reinhoudt||Lars Hedlund||Universal Studios, California|
|1977||Bruce Wilhelm||Bob Young||Ken Patera||Universal Studios, California|
- ^Licis was born in Latvia and is a dual citizen, but only represents the United States in this competition.
- ^In 1987 the WSM was not held for the only time since its inception. In that year the first and only non-team Pure Strength competition was held. Although it was not part of the WSM franchise, some commentators regard it as a replacement for WSM in that year.
Multiple time champions
|Mariusz Pudzianowski||Poland||5||2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008|
|Jón Páll Sigmarsson||Iceland||4||1984, 1986, 1988, 1990|
|Magnús Ver Magnússon||Iceland||4||1991, 1994, 1995, 1996|
|Žydrūnas Savickas||Lithuania||4||2009, 2010, 2012, 2014|
|Brian Shaw||United States||4||2011, 2013, 2015, 2016|
|Bill Kazmaier||United States||3||1980, 1981, 1982|
|Bruce Wilhelm||United States||2||1977, 1978|
|Geoff Capes||United Kingdom||2||1983, 1985|
|Jouko Ahola||Finland||2||1997, 1999|
Multiple Top 3 Finishes
2017 World's Strongest Man
The 2017 World's Strongest Man was the 40th edition of the World's Strongest Man competition. It was held in Gaborone, Botswana from May 20 to 28. The tournament was won by Eddie Hall of the United Kingdom, with Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson of Iceland second and defending champion Brian Shaw of the United States third. Hall announced after the competition that he would not defend his title. Four-time champion Zydrunas Savickas of Lithuania finished in ninth place; this marked the first time in his career that he failed to finish in the top three after qualifying for the final.
A change was made to the qualifying rounds for 2017. Each group participated in five normal events, with the highest scoring competitor at the end of those events being declared the group winner and automatically qualifying for the final. The lowest scoring competitor was eliminated from further competition.
In a throwback to early competitions, where a head to head competition determined the overall champion, the four remaining competitors faced off in an event called Last Man Standing. The event consisted of a hurdle placed in the middle of an octagon with a white square in the middle, in which was placed an Atlas Stone.
The event was conducted in a stepladder format, with the fifth place and fourth place competitors beginning the event. Each competitor took turns lifting the stone from their side of the square and dropping it over the hurdle. The lift had to be started from within the square and each competitor was given ten seconds to lift and drop the stone. Once one of them could not complete the task, he was eliminated from the event and the third place competitor stepped in. The survivor of that matchup took on the second place competitor, with the winner of the event joining the overall group winner in the final.
Finals Events Results
Event 1: Tyre Flip
- 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) tyre for 6 flips
- Time Limit: 60 seconds
Event 2: Squat Lift
- Weight: 320 kilograms (710 lb) for repetitions
- Time Limit: 60 seconds
Event 3: Viking Press
- Weight: 160 kilograms (350 lb) for repetitions
- Time Limit: 60 seconds
Event 4: Plane Pull
- Weight: 26,000 kilograms (57,000 lb)
- Course Length: 30 metres (98 ft)
- Time Limit: 60 seconds
Event 5: Max Deadlift
- Opening Weight: 380 kilograms (840 lb)
Event 6: Atlas Stones
- 5 Atlas Stone series ranging from 150–210 kilograms (330–460 lb)
- Time Limit: 60 seconds
Eddie Hall Wins World's Strongest Man 2017
Joining Eddie Hall on the podium is Hafthor Bjornsson in second place and 2016 World's Strongest Man Brian Shaw in third. Here are some of the performances which earned Eddie Hall is first WSM title, courtesy of Kalle Beck of Starting Strongman:
Eddie Hall squats 700lb for 15 reps
Eddie Hall gets 15 reps on the Viking Press
You can find more videos from the competition on Starting Strongman's Youtube page.
Congratulations to Eddie Hall on his incredible win over one of the toughest fields of competition ever. Here are the top 10 in order:
- Eddie Hall
- Thor Bjornsson
- Brian Shaw
- Martins Licis
- Jean-Francios Carron
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski
- Laurence Shahlaei
- Konstantine Janashia
- Zydrunas Savickas
- Nick Best
More men have been on the moon than have deadlifted 500kg. It's a fact that has kept Eddie Hall, an ex-HGV mechanic and the World's Strongest Man in 2017, at the forefront of the sport of Strongman.
"That nearly killed me," explained Eddie Hall, the owner of a genetic mutation that causes myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy – the 'Hercules Gene' – after tearing half a tonne from the floor at the Giants Live World Deadlift Championships. "The pressure on my body was surreal. I passed out after. I had nose bleeds. It’s not healthy doing something like that."
His leviathan effort, not through his peers' lack of trying, still remains to be beaten.
One of the favourite contenders to dethrone Hall's efforts, however, is Hafþór Björnsson, who was crowned World's Strongest Man in Manila, Philippines, in 2018, knocking Hall off his throne.
In fact, it was a year earlier, during the 2017 competition when their feud began. The story: Björnsson was disallowed a rep during the Viking press, a controversial decision that cost the Icelander the title by a single point and saw Hall emerge victorious, a decision that Björnsson would later say "robbed" him from the WSM title. Judging the event, Magnús Ver Magnússon had the swing vote on Björnsson's no-rep and voted against him (he would later go on to be announced as the judge for Björnsson's world record attempt).
Their feud, and bitter rivalry, continues to burn.
Since his WSM win in 2017 and his WR deadlift in 2016, Eddie Hall has retired from competing, meaning the pair's relationship became a tug-of-war, punctuated with mutual respect and sporting admiration, that was almost always waged online. At its best, the two trade jibes for spikes in YouTube views and Instagram likes, but at its worst, the feud has seen Hall label Björnsson as "unsportsmanlike and unprofessional", "the world's weakest liar" and a "scum bag" and shared claims of poor conduct during Strongman competition meets. Hall has published 'press releases' on social media to try and retract certain defamatory comments.
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Breaking the Unbreakable
There is one enormous, body-breaking common denominator between the two strongmen — the determination to break previously unthinkable world records. On 2nd May 2020, Björnsson plans to break Hall's deadlift record of 500kg, by pulling 501kg — or more, potentially — and to walk away with a new deadlift world record. The catch? Due to coronavirus social-distancing rules, Björnsson is now planning to attempt the lift at his home gym with friends and family, instead of a legitimate, sanctioned event with an objective, unbiased referee.
"We wouldn't even be talking about the 500kg deadlift if it wasn't for me right now."
It's a decision that has landed the ex-basketball player and Game of Thrones star in hot water among fans and sporting peers, with polarising comments being made on either side of the debate. While hosting a recent YouTube question-and-answer session, Eddie Hall made a sweeping statement on Björnsson's pending deadlift attempt, detailing how he doesn't "trust Icelandics," but later went on to clarify that he was specifically referring to Bjornsson.
Elsewhere in Hall's live YouTube Q&A, a fan posed the question, "Do you personally think that Thor [Hafþór Björnsson] should do more than 501[kg], as you broke it by so much before?" For those unaware, by tearing 500kg from the floor, Hall blitzed the previous record of 463kg by Benedikt Magnússon. "Breaking it is breaking it, if he breaks it by a kilo or ten kilos or 30 kilos, it doesn't matter really," Hall replied. "I will say that I broke it by 37kg in one day. I did something special, I broke that 500kg barrier when everybody thought it was impossible. We wouldn't even be talking about the 500kg deadlift if it wasn't for me right now."
His next comments on Björnsson, however, were the most surprising. "I'm getting sick and tired of people saying they're going to pull it [a 501kg deadlift], 'Thor' especially, I'm sick to death of hearing it. I'm sick to death of seeing my name in his titles on YouTube videos... it's using my success for his views. I'm sick to death of it, if you're going to pull it, then pull it. It's been four years."
After years of graft, 'pulling it' is precisely what Björnsson plans to do. But it's the testing environment and the timing that has got the internet — and Eddie Hall's temperament — lit up.
"We're going into this pandemic and there's nowhere to run," said Hall "and now he's going to do it in his home gym. He's had plenty of opportunities – he could've done it in Dubai, late last year, in Europe's Strongest Man [and at] Giants Live, it doesn't feel right to me. Why not wait 'til this is over, 'til, I don't know, October?"
What's more, he's not bothered about being disrespectful to his Strongman peer. "If I was doing that, people would call BS. So I'm calling BS on Thor."
In terms of a response, Björnsson is yet to clap back in public to Hall, despite being more than active on his social media, where a recent Instagram post shows the 6'7" Icelander lifting an "easy" 440kg from the floor for reps.
Björnsson also claimed an unofficial "world record" by lifting 480kg on an 'elephant bar' — a longer, more flexible barbell that's specifically designed for world records — in February 2020. It was a lift that has got fans believing a lift at 501kg is more than possible in May. Instead of an elephant bar, however, Björnsson will have to use a standardised deadlift bar with calibrated weight plates – a comparatively harder lift.
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Regardless, the feud between the two hasn't stopped other athletes from stepping into the fold and weighing into the battle for 501. Brian Shaw, a four-time World's Strongest Man winner, nine-time WSM podium finisher and three-time Arnold Strongman Classic winner, posted a personal video to his 1.27m YouTube followers earlier this week, sharing his thoughts on the growing rivalry between Hall and Björnsson.
"There was a lot of factors with that competition," said Shaw, referring to Hall's deadlift world record in 2016 at the Giants Live World Deadlift Championships. "That contest was definitely set up for Eddie to pull that 500 kilos... since then, there's been a lot of talk back and forth about 'if someone would break it', I feel like it's a never-ending story."
"The bottom line is, Eddie Hall lifted the 500 kilos in 2016 on a standard bar with calibrated plates, said Shaw. "Moving forward, there's been a lot of talking rising up about Hafþór [Björnsson] being potentially able to pull 501 kilos to break that record. In Hafþór's defence, he planned and said he was going after this 501 kilo attempt in Bahrain in a World's Ultimate Strongman-sanctioned event and, unfortunately due to the worldwide circumstances right now, that contest had to be cancelled."
As Shaw describes, this was the turn of events that led Iceland's Björnsson to his impending attempt at a 501kg lift in May. Despite Iceland not initiating a 'lockdown' similar to that of the United Kingdom or the USA, Björnsson will be attempting the record at his home gym, with ESPN and World's Ultimate Strongman both broadcasting and live-streaming the attempt from the training facility.
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
In almost every other major sport on the planet, there's a corresponding governing body to ensure competitions, races and matches are done fairly and with unprejudiced decisions. The Olympics has the National Olympic Committees, Football has FIFA and weightlifting has the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), to name three.
The catch here — fortunate for some, unfortunate for others — is that despite its growing popularity, there is no official governing body for the sport of strongman. "What I will say is that there is no governing body in strongman. There’s no federation. There’s no group of people or person that overlooks the sport, or says that this is a world record, or ‘we’ll count this as a world record,’" explained Shaw on YouTube. In this particular sport, the slack is made up by those running the sanctioned events — think Giants Live and World's Ultimate Strongman — using the bigger competitions as a way of validating world records.
"A strongman world record needs to be set in a competition" - Brian Shaw
So, when it comes to setting a strongman world record, could one really be set outside of an event like those used before? It's a contentious issue that even Shaw seems hesitant to pick a side on, noting some of Hall's doubts of Björnsson's legitimacy. "When it comes to this [deadlift] world record, in my opinion, it needs to be done in a competition. I will say that. It's not because of anything with the bar not being what it's supposed to be, or the weights not weighing they're supposed to weigh."
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
Instead, Shaw's hesitance comes from the competition factor, or a lack thereof. "When you are in a competition, and there's however many men competing alongside you, you do not get to determine when you go to lift... you don't know how many guys will make it to the next round. You don't know how long they're going to take. For example, if somebody gets a bloody nose and bleeds all over the platform, they've got to take time to clean that up. You don't get to time any of this out. In a training setting, you absolutely get to time it out. I know in my training, especially when I'm building up to a big 'max', I can take as long as I want to be ready for that lift and mentally prepare for it. In the contest, some of that goes out the window. When your name is called and the bar is loaded, you've got to go whether you're ready or not."
To Lift or Not?
"In my opinion, a strongman world record needs to be set in a competition," says Hall. As part of a sport that, largely, originated in basements, warehouses and carparks, strongman is accelerating at an impressive rate. Would this be a step back?
"I genuinely feel bad for Hafþór," said Shaw. "He's put a lot of training and time into getting ready for this. But, if we start to allow for strongman records to be set in gyms with that person's equipment, we're opening pandora's box. It's only going to create more controversy, on whether the weights were correct, or the judging was correct."
"The circumstances are very, very hard. But, that doesn't mean that, because everything had to be cancelled, we get to set world records in our gyms and put it on camera."
Crucially, this all could be for naught if Björnsson is unable to match and beat Hall's 2017 WR of 500kg with a 501kg deadlift once May rolls around. The consensus, however, is that everyone, even Eddie Hall, wantsHafþór to break the record, and welcome the potential scenario, but want it under legitimate conditions.
What's more, there are rumours, predictions and 'theories' ruminating across various forums that Björnsson will match the 500kg during his event in May, but beat it by a larger margin later in the year once restrictions are lifted and the strongman season is allowed to resume. For now, however, both old and new fans of the sport have already witnessed huge feats of strength, massive growths in the sport and unbelievable examples of human fortitude. Frankly, isn't that what competitive sport is all about? We'll see you on May 2nd.
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Edward CooperEd Cooper is the Deputy Digital Editor at Men’s Health UK, writing and editing about anything you want to know about — from tech to fitness, mental health to style, food and so much more.
Strongest man 2017
It was evident that with her he behaved like a master, as if she was his personal slut. Although she probably just allowed such an attitude towards herself. no more.Eddie Hall Highlights - World's Strongest Man 2017
Almost like a mom. Talking to me there and taking care of me. - But, they said earlier that they buried their own mother for a long time. About four years ago she asked, asking Dr. Klimov from Andrey Surganov.
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He grabbed her into an armful. Do not do that. I beg you. What if my heart rises from fear.