World's Strongest Man
The official logo of World's Strongest Man
The World's Strongest Man is a strongman competition. Organized by TWI, an IMG Media company, it is broadcast 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 the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, California; other past sponsors include 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 2005-2007 after the International Federation of Strength Athletes parted company with WSM in 2004) and Strongman Champions League.
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-times 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.
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 its own bespoke events, such as the IFSA European Championships but also took the lead in working with BBC and 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 recognised 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. 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 2006 competition ended in dramatic fashion, with Phil Pfister edging out Mariusz Pudzianowski 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 USA.
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. 2 time IFSA World Champion Žydrūnas Savickas 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 repeated his victory again 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. Žydrūnas set a world record in the giant wooden log lift with a lift of 212.5 kg (467.5 lbs.).
in 2011, Brian Shaw was able to finally capture his first WSM title, just edging out Žydrūnas. Both athletes were tied going into the Atlas Stones and Brian was able to capitalize on his massive height advantage and claim the title. England's Terry Hollands finished in third place, his second podium finish after finishing third back in 2007.
Going into the 2012 WSM contest, Brian Shaw suffered from nerve damage in his hands and slipped down to fourth place. This opened the door for Žydrūnas to capture his third WSM title, with fellow Lithuanian Vytautas Lalas coming in second and the Icelandic giant Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson placed third. Žydrūnas set a world record in the log lift with a lift of 220 kg (484 lbs.).
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. The events used in each individual contest vary in order to prevent favoring certain types of competitor.
- Loading Race – Several heavy objects, each weighing between 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).
- McGlashen Stones / Atlas Stones – Five heavy round stones increasing in weight from 220–352 pounds (100–160 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.
- 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 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.
- Weight Throw - a 50-pound 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 twenty-five meter course. Players are scored by how fast they carried the car across the finish line or how far they were able to get the car before the time-limit expired.
- 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. Sometimes, especially in earlier competitions, the anchor was carried but the chain dragged by itself.
- Farmer's Walk – Competitors carry heavy objects (usually anvils) weighing from 275-375 lbs (125– 170 kg) in each hand for a set distance, and compete for the fastest time. A variation involves 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 is and conducted as a race, but one competition in Sanya, China saw the competitors compete individually carrying the weights up a small set of stairs. A competition in Victoria Falls, Zambia 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 rock weighing around 400 lb (182 kg) is carried high on the chest for a set distance. During the three years in which the competition took place in Africa, this event was known as the Africa Stone.
- Duck Walk – A 400 lb (182 kg) pot with a handle is carried, suspended between the legs, over a set course.
- Log Throw / Caber Toss – A five meter long 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 competition replaced the stones with pineapples). 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 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 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 stereotypical barbell used by circus strongmen. The barbell, which weighs 150 kilograms (330 lb), consists of two heavy spheres with a thin, 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.
|Mariusz Pudzianowski||Poland||5||2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008|
|Žydrūnas Savickas||Lithuania||4||2009, 2010, 2012, 2014|
|Magnús Ver Magnússon||Iceland||4||1991, 1994, 1995, 1996|
|Jón Páll Sigmarsson||Iceland||4||1984, 1986, 1988, 1990|
|Brian Shaw||United States||4||2011, 2013, 2015, 2016|
|Bill Kazmaier||United States||3||1980, 1981, 1982|
|Jouko Ahola||Finland||2||1997, 1999|
|Geoff Capes||United Kingdom||2||1983, 1985|
|Bruce Wilhelm||United States||2||1977, 1978|
Official results – top three places
- 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.
Most top three places
|7|| Jón Páll Sigmarsson|
|6|| Geoff Capes|
Magnús Ver Magnússon
|5|| Bill Kazmaier|
Jón Páll Sigmarsson
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson
Most times qualified for WSM: Magnus Samuelsson - 13 times
Most consecutive WSM finals: Terry Hollands - 9 times (2006-2014)
Most times WSM top 5 placings:, Žydrūnas Savickas, - 10 times
Championships by country
Hall of Fame
The WSM Hall of Fame was created in 2008, to recognize the greatest competitors in the history of the contest. As of 2015, there are 4 members of the WSM Hall of Fame, Mariusz Pudzianowski, Svend Karlsen, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Bill Kazmaier. The official WSM website holds online voting to determine who is elected to the Hall of Fame as voted by the fans.
Hall of Fame Members
- "The Worlds Strongest Man Official Website". Theworldsstrongestman.com. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
- The Herald Scotland Bring on the war games DOUG GILLON, Athletics Correspondent, 19 May 2007
- IFSA, WCE, TWI, WSM, ESPN: Who's On First and How Do I Get To World's Strongest Man?, by Randall J. Strossen, IronMind, Thursday, February 10, 2005
- Magnus Samelsson Official website
- "McGlashen Stones / Atlas Stones Event".
- "Truck Pull Event".
- "Overhead Press Event".
- "Fingal's Fingers Event".
- "Squat Lift Event".
- "Dead Lift Event".
- "Dead Lift (Reps) Event".
- "Pillars of Hercules Event".
- "Carry and Drag Event".
- "Farmer's Walk Event".
- "Husafell Stone / Africa Stone Event".
- "How to Duck Walk". wikiHow. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- "Hall of Fame". The Worlds Strongest Man. Retrieved 2012-07-24.