World's Strongest Man

World's Strongest Man
World's Strongest Man
The official logo of World's Strongest Man
Tournament information
Location varies; 2010 competition held in South Africa
Established 1977
Format Multi-event competition
Current champion
Lithuania Žydrūnas Savickas

The World's Strongest Man is a well recognised[citation needed] event in strength athletics[1] and has been described by a number of highly respected authorities in the sport as the premier event in strongman.[2][3] Organized by TWI, an IMG Media company, it is broadcast around the end of December each year.[4] Competitors qualify based on top placings at the World's Strongest Man Super Series events or are invited based on a top placing in selected national or international competitions. Thirty contestants take part across five heats; the top two in each go through to the ten-man final.

Currently, the event sponsor is Met-rx, and the top prize is known as the RV Trophy. The event has a number of rival and parallel competitions with which it is often confused including the Strongman Super Series (producing the World Champion) and the IFSA World Championship (run since the IFSA parted company with WSM). However, these are separate competitions.




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[5] worked with Webster and when David Webster retired from his position 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[6] with some, such as Magnus Samuelsson describing it as "a new company...with the same name as our old federation".[7] 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.[6] 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 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".[6] The contest has been criticised in recent years for its slant towards athleticism away from raw strength, with other contests whose emphasis is on the latter, such as the Arnold Strongman Classic or Fortissimus, being cited as producing the true strongest man in the world. However, it is routinely described as "the Worlds" by top strongman competitors[6] 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.[6]

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 event since 1982, and the only American to win the event outside the USA.

In 2008, local debutant 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 taller and heavier Derek Poundstone. On the final stone, Pudzianowski was able to capitalize on Poundstone's drop and clinched his fifth title.

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 – Five heavy objects weighing between 220–360 lbs (100-164 kgs) are loaded onto a truck bed or a similar platform over a course of about 50 ft.
  • McGlashen Stones / Atlas Stones – Five heavy round stones increasing in weight from 220–352 lbs (100-160 kgs) are placed on top of high platforms. The course tends to be about 16–33 ft. long and has seen three variations- five stones placed directly in front of platforms, five stones placed away from platforms and competitors carrying them to platforms, and platforms arranged in a straight vertical line with a stone in front of each. In recent competitions this is typically the final event.[8]
  • Truck / Airplane Pull – Vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, boxcars, buses or planes are pulled across a 100 ft course by hand as fast as possible. Also, the vehicles may be pulled with a harness around the shoulders.[9] 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).[citation needed][original research?]
  • Overhead Press – The heaviest possible load is pressed overhead, or a lighter weight is used for repetitions.[10]
  • Fingal Fingers – A series of progressively heavier, hinged poles ("fingers") are lifted starting from a horizontal resting position and flipped over to the other side. The event takes its name from Fingal, a mythological Gaelic hunter-warrior.[11]
  • Power Stairs – A series of three Duck Walk implements ranging from 400–600 lbs (182-273 kgs) are lifted, step by step, to the top of a flight of stairs.
  • Squat – Squatting large weights, like 900 lb (409 kgs) 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.[12]
  • Dead Lift – Lifting weights or vehicles up to about 1,100 lb (500 kgs) 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.[13][14]
  • Keg Toss – Competitors must throw kegs, of increasing weight, over a 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m) high steel wall.
  • Car Carry – Standing inside a roof-less, bottom-less car supported by a harness, competitors must carry the car for the maximum distance or shortest time for 25 meters.
  • 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.[15]
  • Carry and Drag – Two weights are carried to the end of a set distance. An anchor and chain must then be dragged back the same distance.[16]
  • Farmer's Walk – Competitors carry heavy objects weighing from 275-375 lbs (125- 170 kgs) in each hand for a set distance, and compete for the fastest time. A variation involves use of a heavy frame with parallel handles.[17]
  • Yoke Walk / Fridge Carry – A yoke, composed of a crossbar and two weighted uprights (normally fridges) weighing about 904 lb is carried across the shoulders for a set distance.[18]
  • Husafell Stone – A flat, somewhat triangular rock weighing around 400 lb (182 kgs) 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.[19]
  • Duck Walk – A 400 lb (182 kgs) 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.
  • Tug of War – One on one tug of war in a single-elimination tournament.
  • 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.

Official results – top three places

Year Champion Runner-Up 3rd Place Location
2010 Lithuania Žydrūnas Savickas[20] United States Brian Shaw Russia Mikhail Koklyaev South Africa Sun City
2009 Lithuania Žydrūnas Savickas Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski United States Brian Shaw Malta Valletta
2008 Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski United States Derek Poundstone United States Dave Ostlund United States Charleston, West Virginia
2007 Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski Poland Sebastian Wenta United Kingdom Terry Hollands United States Anaheim, California
2006 United States Phil Pfister Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski United States Don Pope China Sanya
2005 Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski United States Jesse Marunde Canada Dominic Filiou China Chengdu
2004 Ukraine Vasyl Virastyuk Lithuania Zydrunas Savickas Sweden Magnus Samuelsson The Bahamas Nassau
2003 Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski Lithuania Zydrunas Savickas Ukraine Vasyl Virastyuk Zambia Victoria Falls
2002 Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski Lithuania Zydrunas Savickas Latvia Raimonds Bergmanis Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
2001 Norway Svend Karlsen Sweden Magnus Samuelsson Finland Janne Virtanen Zambia Victoria Falls
2000 Finland Janne Virtanen Norway Svend Karlsen Sweden Magnus Samuelsson South Africa Sun City
1999 Finland Jouko Ahola Finland Janne Virtanen Norway Svend Karlsen Malta Valetta
1998 Sweden Magnus Samuelsson Finland Jouko Ahola Netherlands Wout Zijlstra Morocco Tangier
1997 Finland Jouko Ahola Denmark Flemming Rasmussen Sweden Magnus Samuelsson United States Primm Valley Resort, Nevada
1996 Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon Finland Riku Kiri South Africa Gerrit Badenhorst Mauritius Port Louis
1995 Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon South Africa Gerrit Badenhorst Finland Marko Varalahti The Bahamas Nassau
1994 Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon Austria Manfred Hoeberl Finland Riku Kiri South Africa Sun City
1993 United Kingdom Gary Taylor Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon Finland Riku Kiri France Orange
1992 Netherlands Ted van der Parre Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon United Kingdom Jamie Reeves Iceland Reykjavík
1991 Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon Denmark Henning Thorsen United Kingdom Gary Taylor Spain Tenerife
1990 Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson United States O.D. Wilson Finland Ilkka Nummisto Finland Joensuu
1989 United Kingdom Jamie Reeves Netherlands Ab Wolders Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson Spain San Sebastián
1988 Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson United States Bill Kazmaier United Kingdom Jamie Reeves Hungary Budapest
1986 Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson United Kingdom Geoff Capes Netherlands Ab Wolders France Nice
1985 United Kingdom Geoff Capes Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson Netherlands Cees de Vreugd Portugal Cascais
1984 Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson Netherlands Ab Wolders United Kingdom Geoff Capes Sweden Mora
1983 United Kingdom Geoff Capes Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson Netherlands Simon Wulfse New Zealand Christchurch
1982 United States Bill Kazmaier Canada Tom Magee United States John Gamble United States Magic Mountain, California
1981 United States Bill Kazmaier United Kingdom Geoff Capes United States Dave Waddington United States Magic Mountain, California
1980 United States Bill Kazmaier Sweden Lars Hedlund United Kingdom Geoff Capes United States Newark, New Jersey
1979 United States Don Reinhoudt Sweden Lars Hedlund United States Bill Kazmaier United States Universal Studios, California
1978 United States Bruce Wilhelm United States Don Reinhoudt Sweden Lars Hedlund United States Universal Studios, California
1977 United States Bruce Wilhelm United States Bob Young United States Ken Patera United States Universal Studios, California
  1. 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 with Bill Kazmaier, Geoff Capes and Jón Páll Sigmarsson being the entrants who between them won the WSM a total of nine times. Capes was injured during the event, but Jón Páll Sigmarsson was dominant, winning overall. However, this win does not count in his tally.

Championships by country

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
 Iceland 8 4 1 13
 United States 7 7 6 20
 Poland 5 3 0 8
 United Kingdom 4 2 6 12
 Finland 3 3 5 11
 Lithuania 2 3 0 5
 Sweden 1 3 4 8
 Netherlands 1 2 4 7
 Norway 1 1 1 3
 Ukraine 1 0 1 2
 Denmark 0 2 0 2
 Canada 0 1 1 2
 South Africa 0 1 1 2
 Austria 0 1 0 1
 Latvia 0 0 1 1
 Russia 0 0 1 1

Australia, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, France, Germany, Grenada, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Serbia and Samoa have all placed in Top 10 but never won a medal.

Repeat champions

Champion Times
Poland Mariusz Pudzianowski 5
Iceland Jón Páll Sigmarsson 4
Iceland Magnús Ver Magnússon 4
United States Bill Kazmaier 3
Finland Jouko Ahola 2
United Kingdom Geoff Capes 2
Lithuania Žydrūnas Savickas 2
United States Bruce Wilhelm 2

See also


  1. ^ "Competition History". 
  2. ^ Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D., World’s Strongest Man Update, July 14 2009, IronMind
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Herald Scotland Bring on the war games DOUG GILLON, Athletics Correspondent, 19 May 2007
  6. ^ a b c d e 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
  7. ^ Magnus Samelsson Official website
  8. ^ "McGlashen Stones / Atlas Stones Event". 
  9. ^ "Truck Pull Event". 
  10. ^ "Overhead Press Event". 
  11. ^ "Fingal's Fingers Event". 
  12. ^ "Squat Lift Event". 
  13. ^ "Dead Lift Event". 
  14. ^ "Dead Lift (Reps) Event". 
  15. ^ "Pillars of Hercules Event". 
  16. ^ "Carry and Drag Event". 
  17. ^ "Farmer's Walk Event". 
  18. ^ "Yoke Walk / Fridge Carry Event". 
  19. ^ "Husafell Stone / Africa Stone Event". 
  20. ^

External links

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