This is the story of a boy who lived in a fantasy World with super Heroes such as The Incredible Hulk. The story of a youth who told his mother he would become the strongest man in the World some day. The Story of a man who could lift and flip cars, pull planes, pick up massive stones, and became a living comic book superhero. This is the story of Hugo Girard.
Even as a child Hugo knew he was different. So did every one else. He was bigger and stronger than all his peers. Born in Saint-Anne-de-Portneuf, Quebec, on December 20th 1971, Hugo was not supposed to grow up to be something special. His town was a small one that never produced any one who went on to accomplish anything of Worldly note. It was hard for any one who lived there to believe that a local could be anything special. Even if Hugo was a big kid, no one saw how that would translate into fame. Not even Hugo.
He read his comic books and saw the fantasy feats of strength The Incredible Hulk could do and was in awe. The Hulk could pick up cars and move them. He could move massive planes, and lift and toss any size rock or stone with ease as if it was a toy. Hugo sat back and imagined what it would be like to be that strong. Though he did not know at the time how it would help him achieve World wide fame, or translate into any kind of sport, he knew he had to get started if he was to become as strong as The Incredible Hulk.
At the age of 5 Hugo Girard began lifting weights. It was nothing of note, his dad had given him two 2.5 pound dumbbells, but it was the beginning of something extraordinary. By the time Hugo had reached his 20’s he had filled out to a massive man. Standing six feet two inches, and weighing over three hundred pounds, he already had the proportions of a larger than life character. After breaking several Canadian powerlifting records Hugo moved on to the World of Strongman contests. Powerlifting was a sport that had no real progression. The World Champions were unknown by the general public, and the sport itself was not in any major games such as the Olympics or Commonwealth games. One day while watching TV Hugo found the world of Strongman competitions. Watching these titans performing seemingly impossible feats of strength to see who was the strongest man in the World captivated Hugo’s imagination. He knew he had finally found where he would apply his gift. They say every person has some kind of gift inside, Hugo’s gift was unhuman strength.
By 1998, Hugo would begin to script the comic book that would be his life story. To perform like a super hero he had to train like one. The regular weights of dumbbells and barbells would be used in the form of squats, deadlifts and bench presses as any Olympic weightlifter, or power lifter would train. But Hugo was not a regular weightlifter, and Strongman is not a regular weight lifting competition. For those competitions Hugo would train by flipping cars, towing his truck with the emergency brake on and fully loaded back, have two cars on two ramps facing away from each other with Hugo holding them up in the middle so they could not slide down, flip huge one thousand pound tires, lift two hundred to four hundred pound stones onto elevated platforms, and toss around huge metal beams that could support a building.
It developed a man with super human strength. By 1999 the rest of the World began to take notice. He won the Canadian Strongman title, qualifying him to move on into international competitions. In the Malta competition that year, for the World’s Strongest Man title, Hugo had a harness connecting him to a 83 ton 737 Boeing plane. He was given a rope and pulled the plane 19 feet. It was the sort of thing the 7-year-old boy from Saint-Anne-de-Portneuf, Quebec dreamed of being able to do. It was the sort of thing human beings were not supposed to be able to do.
In 2001 Hugo would win his nation’s Strongman Championship for the third year in a row, and lead them as Captain of the Canadian team when they faced the American team in the North American Strongman Championship. Hugo Captured the title and set his sights on the World. In the 2002 Strongman year he would reign supreme.
Every Super hero needs a rival that of which has power in a different form but is nonetheless his equal in overall prowesses. Hugo Girard’s reputation as the Strongest man in the World was uncontested save for his arch nemesis “Super” Mariuz Pudzianowski, who hailed from Poland. Pudzianowski, unlike Hugo, was much leaner and looked like a body builder. He excelled in events that used speed and endurance, while Hugo excelled in the events that required pressing and sheer power. In terms of Strongman, they were the perfect opposites.
The International Federation of Strength Athletes had a plan to organized a series of Grand Prix that would take place all over the world through out a year. The placing in each of these Grand Prix would give the strong men participating in them a certain amount of points. The better the placing in the Grand Prix the more points you would be given. At the end of the year the man who amassed the greatest amount of points in the Super series would be crown the Super Series World Champion. It was a fairly new idea to help establish a tour for strongmen to participate in much like Tennis or Golf. Also, it would help to crown a Champion that had to perform as the best across a year’s span of events, not just in one event (traditionally it was the Met-Rx’s World’s Strongest Man winner that was considered the World Champion. An event that was over in a weekend or a week).
Over the course of the 2002 year Hugo Girard held cars on slanted ramps at a stand still, carried 330 pound steel logs 80 yards, lifted overhead 400 pound logs, squatted cars for reps, towed trucks, lifted cars rigged like giant wheel barrows and moved them in a race, and lugged a 475 pound weight up a set of stairs, among other feats of strength on his way to becoming Canadian, North American, and then World Champion. Hugo’s World conquest began when he won the Hammer strength Grand Prix in Stockholm that year beating a World class range of 14 competitors including Svend Karlsen, Zyndrunas Savickas, Raimund Bergmanis, and Mariuz Pudzianowski. He won the competition with a substantially wide 10 point lead over the next competitor (former World’s Strongest Man winner Svend Karlsen). His rivals gathered in Hawaii(which this time included future Champion Vasyl Virastyuk of Ukraine) and would have a chance for revenge. Although the best the World had to offer gave Hugo a tougher challenge, he still won half of the events out right, and won the whole competition by a comfortable five and a half point lead. Hugo was crowned the IFSA Super Series World Champion. It was the perfect ending to an almost perfect year for the might Hugo Girard. The only blemish was the great disappointment in losing the greatest competition in the Strongman year, The World’s Strongest Man. To put it in perspective, if strongman were tennis winning the Grand Prixs would be winning the majors and The World’s Strongest Man competition would be like winning Wimbledon. It was none other than Mariusz Pudzianowski who managed to snag that tournament win.
In the 2003 year he would continue his dominance. At home in Canada there was an abundance of quality Strongmen. Because Hugo had so expertly organized the sport into provincial and national meets there was a well designed system to bring up the very best in Strongman across Canada. With a well-organized format the competitions were picked up by TV and shown across the country. Instantly lifters in the provincials became recognizable athletes that were cheered on if they qualified for the Canadian Nationals. Like the Provincials, the Canadian Nationals were broadcasted across the great north to great fanfare. With a huge push and support, Strongman had become very popular in Canada and as a result was able to pull athletes from a large talent pool. Among the World class strongmen to come through Canada and compete at the World class level were Dominic Filliou, Jessen Paulin, Geoff Dolan, and Travis Lyndon. Several of them would beat out America’s best and become North American Champions, and would all be World ranked. But 2002 and 2003 was Hugo’s prime, and among the World’s best Strongmen he was ranked no less than number one. In the 2003 Canadian nationals he showed his dominance. While some competitors would drop the 330 pound weights they had to carry across the 80 meter course for the Medley event unable to finish, Hugo would complete the course then walk over to stare in the TV camera and pose with the weights still in hand. Long after some of the strongest men in the World had bowed out of the overhead log lifting event, Hugo would press enough weight to win the event, then to the delight of the crowd bring the weight back down to his chest and press it up again. By the end of the Canadian Championships, against World class opposition, he was so far ahead in points he did not even have to compete in the last event, and he still won the Crown.
On the World scene in 2003 Hugo returned to Hawaii were he had won the World title the year before. He set a World record in the Apollon Axle lift and won the hammer strength super yoke, but would start to unravel and loose his lead in the following events. The end result was a Grand Prix win for arch rival Mariusz Pudzianowski. The following Grand Prix took place in Holland, and Hugo had to withdraw from the event due to injury, again giving his nemesis Mariusz Pudzianowski another Grand Prix win in 2003. In the third Grand Prix of 2003 the super series would come to Canada, and the pressure on Hugo to return to Championship form was incredible. The Canadian media would be covering the Grand Prix, and it was expected by casual sports fans that the returning World Champion win in his homeland. They knew little about the sport or the stiff competition that would be coming to challenge him. They had heard that Canada had the World’s Strongest Man, and expected him to perform as such. With injuries starting to nag him Hugo showed up at the Canadian Grand Prix determined not to let his country down. 8,000 Canadians piled into the heritage festival to witness their super hero defend the country’s honor against super Mariusz Pudzianowski and the rest of the World’s finest. Powered by their energy and support Hugo’s will to win was unstoppable for his opposition. He set a new World record in log lift and won 3 of the events outright (future Canadian Champion/North American Champion/training partner Jessen Paulin won one event himself for Canada). In the end he won the Grand Prix by a dominating 13 point spread over the second place finisher (who else, but Polish power house Mariusz Pudzianowski).
The next Grand Prix in the 2003 super series was in Finland, and once again the rest of the World’s Strongest men took a backseat to the rivalry between The Incredible Hugo Girard and Super Mariusz Pudzianowski. Although Mariusz came to do battle, Hugo’s strength was far too much. He won 6 of the 7 events in one of the most dominating performances in the World Strongman scene. Once again Mariusz took second place, right behind Hugo. After 4 Grand Prix events the two marvels were tied at winning 2 Grand Prix apiece. The last Grand Prix of the year looked to be the tie breaker. It was the Arnold Classic, and it was a Grand Prix most figure Hugo come out on top of Mariusz in. The Arnold classic is a competition that held events more focused on pure strength with heavy lifts and presses, and had less focus on events that consisted of drags, carries, and tows (in which speed and agility helped). In terms of pure strength most would admit Hugo had it over Mariusz. Predictably Mariusz was not nearly as dominate in the competition and had to settle for a rare 5th place finish. Unfortunately, Hugo was injured and for the second time in 2003 missed out on the Arnold Classic altogether. Although he was tied with Mariusz for Grand Prix wins, having missed out on two Grand Prix altogether due to injury cost Hugo dearly in terms of points compiled over the 2003 super series year. With Hulking Hugo faltering with injuries Mariusz seized the great Girard’s crown as the super series World Champion.
By the end of 2003 he had Won the Canadian Title five times, the North American title twice, was the The Super Series World Champion, and set 6 World records. Hit with devastating injury after devastating injury the 2003 year would be the last in which Hugo was able to compete at a World class level. Over the course of the next few year Hugo would try to come back at any where from 50-70%, but every time he looked very much human. Gone was his unmatched strength and tenacity. Gone was his aura of invincibility. Finally, after a story worthy of a marvel comic book, the Incredible Hulk was brought down.