Training to be a strongman competitor is a lot of hard work.
More than that, however,
there must be an intense desire on the part of a beginner to excel.
Obstacles to success are immense. To succeed
at strongman, competitors must train properly, nourish themselves well, have a good attitude, and be prepared to devote many
long hours to the sport.
The type of body needed to win at international strongman competition is not well distributed
among the world's population. In a world where many go hungry, heavyweight goliaths from six and a half to seven feet tall,
weighing about 300-350 pounds, are relatively rare. The attraction of strongman competition is the chance to see the biggest
and strongest do what they do best:
Flexing their muscles.
From Children's Literature:
Professional wrestling books featuring pop culture icons such as the Hitman and Ric Flair
have begun appearing on shelves. It is fitting that our library clients be treated to other competitions around the world
involving feats of strength.
The Hebrew strongman Samson, the legendary Hercules who became a Greek god, and our
own Superman illustrate that, throughout history, the strongest and youngest warrior became the peoples' champion.
of Mel Gibson in Braveheart may not know that today's strongman competitions are derived from the ancient Scottish games,
used as a recruiting device of William Wallace to enlarge his army in the wars for independence from English rule.
these competitions are held all over the world, are primarily popular where everyday life involves physical prowess and have
also opened to women. Events are encourage individual and team competition, and include the tug-of-war, arm wrestling, log
lift, dead lift, crushing concrete with bare hands and semi-truck pulling.
Illustrated with black-and-white photos,
this is a recommended addition to a library collection. It contains various major records, chronology, bibliography and index.
Part of the "Pro Wrestling Legends" series. 2000, Chelsea House, $16.95 and $7.95. Ages 9 to 14.
Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
THE WORLD'S STRONGEST MAN
After more than two decades of strongman competition, the sport has more events than
ever. The 1999 official IFSA tour featured 23 different events, including some, like the June Beauty and the Beast Hawaiian
Grand Prix, where the winner received an invite to the World's Strongest Man competition.
of Strength Athletes events drew crowds on both sides of the Atlantic, selecting the Strongest Man for Scotland, Spain, Holland,
Canada, Hungary, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia, to name a few. American events included strongest man and strongest woman competitions
in Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and California, among many others. Muscle opposed muscle in such contests as the Annual
Buffalo's Strongest Man, the Blue Ridge Strongman/Woman, the California Iron Warrior, and The Strongest Man Alive.
the premier event in modern strength sports is always the World's Strongest Man competition. Fans of strongman consider the
WSM the Super Bowl of Worldwide physical prowess.
An Excerpt from The Composite Guide to Strongman Competition:
Displays of strength are nothing new. Circus strongmen have been amazing customers for hundreds of years. Other than the
Scottish Games, modern strength sports have their origins in stage and circus exhibitions. However, thoughout the history
of Western culture, sports and physical activities were long regarded as unsuited to adults. Until the late 19th century,
adults were expected to work at serious jobs and professions. It wasn't considered responsible for adults to be concerned
overmuch with their bodies, body building, or physical prowess.
A number of social changes in the years before the First World War helped alter this perception. The Young Men's Christian
Association movement appeared on the scene in 1844, encouraging interest in exercise as an alternative to the unhealthy living
conditions in big cities. The increased leisure time afforded people by industrial activity also provided opportunities for
them to do things besides work at their jobs.
With perceptions changing, physical work led to physical play. Today, places where strongman competition is the most popular
are places where there is a history of hard physical work among the residents. Areas containing existing and former logging
camps, mines, docks, farming, grazing, animal husbandry, or like occupations take especially well to strongman competition.
Meanwhile, the science of body building gathered momentum during the late 19th century. Pioneer body builders like Eugen
Sandow, Omer De Bouillion, Wladek Zbyszko, George Hackenschmidt, Walter Godolak, Earle Liederman, and many others became famous
for their physical strength. By the 1920s, new magazines like PHYSICAL CULTURE and MUSCLE BUILDER were touting weight training
as a way for boys and young men to develop strength, endurance, skill, and self confidence. During the 1920s, Earle Liederman
offered a correspondence course in strength development that is remarkably modern in the quality of its advice and the scope
of its program.
Later, a bodybuilder named Charles Atlas produced another version of the Leiderman program. The Atlas secret was "dynamic
tension," a form of isometric exercise. Atlas advertised his body building techniques in magazines and comic books from
the 1930s through the 1960s. In his ads, Atlas promised to make imposing strength athletes out of 97 pound weaklings. The
purpose of the Atlas program was twofold: graduates would develop bodies capable of the impressing girls and likewise prevent
bullies from kicking sand in their faces during beach excursions.
Following in the footsteps of Leiderman and Atlas was the brothers Joe and Ben Weider. The pair founded a magazine empire
based on body building and strength principles. The brothers created the Mr. Olympia pageant for the best body builder. They
also formed a partnership with famed Austrian body builder Arnold Schwarzeneggar in the 1960s. Not surprisingly, Schwarzeneggar
was the winner of most of the Mr. Olympia pageants during his years as a contestant.
Easily the most influential body building/strength athlete of all time, however, was Eugen Sandow. Starting his career
as a sideshow strongman, Sandow built himself up to resemble classical Greek and Roman sculptures. In 1899, at the age of
32, Sandow stood 5' 9" tall and weighed 180 pounds. But he had a 49" chest, biceps of 18", a 36" waist,
and 25" thighs. Despite being a near perfect physical specimen, Sandow wasn't satisfied with being a mere sideshow attraction.
Sandow eventually convinced Follies producer Flo Ziegfeld to stage an act called "Sandow's Trocadero Vaudevilles"
that held audiences rapt with his unique combination of strength, grace, and form.
In many respects, Sandow was way ahead of his time. Along with his lifelong companion, Martinus Sieveking, Sandow advocated
physical education in schools, improved urban sanitation, pre-natal care for women, and free meals for poor children. Sandow
is still so highly regarded in the body building community that his image graces the "Mr. Olympia" statuette awarded
to the annual winner of the Mr. Olympia pageant, body building's top event.
Although strength sports have been around for thousands of years, strongman competition has existed only since 1977. That
year Universal TV studios rolled out the first World's Strongest Man competition, or WSM as it is has come to be called. The
concept was seen initially as a gimmick television program. The first WSM was filmed in three successive days of competition.
Later, the program's events were shown on consecutive Saturdays during the 1977-78 TV season.
Except for one year, a World's strongest Man competition has been held annually since 1977. The sport is exceptionally
popular in the United Kingdom, where the British Broadcasting Company has been a driving force in getting the message out
to enthusiasts of many nations. Every year, about 33 million Britons turn on their tellies to watch WSM competition. A company
named Trans World International produces the World's Strongest Man competition for the BBC and other networks.
Copyright 2001 by Mike Bonner