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STRONGMAN COMPETITION













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THE COMPOSITE GUIDE TO STRONGMAN COMPETITION

Strongman










































MAKING MUSCLE

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.

Fans 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.

Today 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.

International Federation 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.

But 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