World’s Strongest Man – 30 Years of Pain

The video below shares the early history of the World’s Strongest Man competition. It’s a must see for anyone who grew up watching legends like Bill Kazmaier. If you have any interest in strength, it is safe to say that you’ll enjoy the documentary.


“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.” – Albert Einstein

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  1. I think those early World’s Strongest Man competitions were far more entertaining even though all most all of the contestants were American. I mean you had an eclectic group of strongmen ranging from pro wrestlers like Superstar Billy Graham to actor/bodybuilders Lou Ferrigno & Franco Columbu to track and field stars like shot putter Brian Oldfield. Oldfield was a tremendous athlete and was said to be able to run the 100 meters in 10.4 and run a 4.3 in the 40. Oldfield would often compete against world class female sprinters and beat them despite being 6’5″ and weighing about 280lbs. Often times between throws Oldfield could be spotted smoking cigarettes. Not sure but I think the late John Matuszak who is best remembered for playing for the Raiders was in one of those early strong man competitions.

  2. 30 Years of Pain… and steroids
    I think steroids pots have no place in a great site like yours, Ross. Your healthy attitude towards sports and life is what keeps us coming back for more, not to mention trust you! Anyway, you call the shots…

  3. Personally I couldn’t give a monkeys about the ‘roid use. Strong is strong, and these guys are the strongest. You don’t magically get strong just because you use steroids, it still takes total commitment and massive amounts of hard work. I just assume that they all do it, and therefore the playing field is level.

    It’s the same for me with cycling. The fact of drug usage or not doesn’t affect the entertainment I get when watching the Tour or the Giro, or even the classics, it’s just great to watch the best athletes in the world slog it out in their version of chess on wheels…

    My 2c,
    I loved the vid BTW,
    Keep up the good work,

  4. Since the 1980’s steroids have been prevalent in many sports and are no longer just used by weightlifters, bodybuilders, powerlifters, shot putters or discus thrower, or football lineman. Steriods are now used in sports like cycling as mentioned in a previous post, as well as sports like baseball, boxing, track and field athletes like sprinters, pole vaulters, and not just the big guys in the throwing events, basketball, tennis, etc., you name it and most sports have been infiltrated with steroid use. Well maybe poker, darts, bowling, table tennis, and golf, but those are recreational games people play while drinking a few beers. I find it laughable how someone thinks that anyone who takes steroids will be able to bench press 500lbs and have biceps like softballs, however, it does taint the accomplishment in my opinion. Granted the best athletes will still win if EVERYONE that competes takes steroids, but a lot of people wouldn’t risk a few years of fleeting glory for the risk of the serious long term effects of steroid abuse. Like in baseball, steroids have all but eliminated the importance of the 500 home run club. I can remember when there were only a handful of players who reached this monumental milestone in the whole history of baseball, but now after the steroid explosion in the 90’s & early 00’s the number of “sluggers” in the 500 club has probably all but doubled from what it was before the 90’s. The same thing with powerlifting. It was a standard milestone to bench press double your bodyweight to be considered as an exceptional lifter from days past. It was also quite an accomplishment to bench press 500lbs regardless of your bodyweight, but now with all the lifting gear, steroids, and God only knows what else, you probably have guys weighing 148lbs bench pressing 500lbs, and it won’t be long before someone bench presses 1,000lbs.

  5. I stand corrected. The 1,000lb bench press was done waaaay back in 2004 by Gene Rychlak with a lift of 1,004lbs. The current bench press record was done in 2008 by Ryan Kennely with a lift of 1,075lbs. So right now the record bench press is actually more than the record deadlift(1,015lbs) and isn’t that far behind the record squat of 1220lbs. There are deadlift and squat suits, kneewraps, etc., which increase the squat and deadlift, but they don’t provide near the advantages those ridiculous bench shirts give the lifter. Some of those things take 2-3 guys helping the lifter put those monstrosities on and they barely move their arms more than a couple of inches it seems.

  6. The winner of the first two World’s Strongest Man competitions was American Olympic weightlifter Bruce Wilhem who was also a former PAC-10 conference wrestling champion at Stanford University in 1965. Wilhem while a senior in high school in 1963 was the California State Shot Put Champion and runner up in the discus. He also was the California State Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. You have to believe that at the time Wilhem won the World’s Strongest Man competitions in 1977 & 1978 that the strongest man in the world was truly the late Soviet Olympic weightlifter Vasily Alexseyev without a doubt. Read an article from a powerlifting magazine which the author ranked what were in his opinion the top 5 greatest strength athletes of all-time. They were all superheavyweights so I don’t think this was any kind of pound for pound listing or maybe smaller strong athletes weren’t taken in consideration. Anyhow the author’s list is pretty credible. The five greatest strength athletes of all time according to the author were as follows:

    1. Paul Anderson
    2. Vasily Alekseyev
    3. Mariusz Pudzianowski
    4. Bill Kazmaier
    5. Magnus Ver Magnusson

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