The History of The World’s Strongest Man
Created in 1977, the World’s Strongest Man has become the premier event in strength athletics. For over 30 years, the strongest men on the planet have come together in a series of unique and amazing tests of strength to determine the World’s Strongest Man. The competition has travelled to stunning and varied locations such as Zambia, Iceland, Mauritius, Malaysia, Morocco, China and the USA.
Legendary figures in the sport have cemented their legacies at the World’s Strongest Man. Bill Kazmaier, Jon Pall Sigmarsson, Magnus ver Magnusson and Mariusz Pudzianowski captured multiple titles and each can claim to be the sports greatest champion.
At Universal Studios, California, Bruce Wilhelm became the first person to earn the title of the World’s Strongest Man. Wilhelm, a former Olympic Weightlifter from the United States, repeated as winner in 1978. American domination of the event continued with Don Reinhoudt winning in the following year and the emergence of Bill Kazmaier as one of the greatest talents in the history of the sport. Kazmaier, a former world power lifting champion, overwhelmed his competition while winning the championship over three consecutive years, from 1980 through 1982.
Geoff Capes, of England, became the first non-American to be crowned as the World’s Strongest Man in 1983 and the former Olympic shot-putter would later add a second title in 1985. Iceland’s Jon-Pall Sigmarsson, combined his ‘Viking Power’ and an unbelievable personality, to carry him to 4 championships between 1984 and 1990. Magnus ver Magnusson, was the dominant force in strength athletics in the 1990′s. Considered by many to be the first modern strength athlete, ver Magnusson matched the four titles of his Icelandic countryman, Sigmarsson, including wins over three consecutive years from 1994 to 1996.
Scandinavian supremacy continued in the late 1990′s and into the next century Finland’s Jouko Ahola won a pair of championships in 1997 and 1999, while Magnus Samuelsson of Sweden, Finland’s Janne Virtanen, and Norway’s Svend Karlsen each won a title of their own.
Today, the balance of power has clearly shifted to Eastern Europe, Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland was victorious in 2002 and 2003 before being dethroned by the Ukraine’s Vasyl Virastyuk in 2004. But the Polish strongman returned to the top in 2005, becoming just the fourth man to win 3 or more championships. 2006 led to a nail biting finish between Phil Pfister of the USA and Pudzianowski, but Pfister managed to gain the top spot in the last heat of the last event. This was the first time an American had won the title since Kazmaier in 1982.
This delayed Mariusz winning his 4th title and equalling the record set by ver Magnusson and Sigmarsson but it wouldn’t be long before he was back at the top and setting his own records.
After picking up his 4th title in 2007, he went from strength to strength and although being pushed to the last event by Derek Poundstone in 2008 Mariusz Pudzianowski became the first athlete to claim 5 titles, a record which will be hard to beat.
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