The Great Debate ends here! One strongman from the era they represent was chosen. Read the Contenders and cast your vote at the end (you can offer another contender you believed to be missed)…
Our contenders to the title of The Strongest man of All Time…
Louis Cyr and the turn of the century strongmen
There can be no discussion of the strongest men of all time and not start with Louis Cyr. In 1880, at the age of 17, Louis won a strongman competition by lifting a full grown male horse. The horse was on a platform with two iron rods for Cyr to grip. Cyr toured the World openly challenging any strongman from any Nation. He took on many challengers, but would retire undefeated.
Cyr crushed the best every other country could offer, and set records that were out of reach to his competition. He is widely regarded as perhaps the strongest human who ever lived. It should also be noted he is from a time that had no performance enhancing supplements (both banned and not banned).
In 1906 Louis Cyr met fellow Canadian Hector Decarie in a challenge match. There was 8 lifts in the match, and each man won 4 of the events apiece making it a draw. Still, Louis Cyr decided it was a good time to retire having finally found his equal. He handed over his title as World Champion to Hector Decarie. Louis was 44 years old. There is a statue in honor of the Great Louis Cyr that still stands today in Quebec.
Luis Uni (Apollon The Mighty)
The French-born strong man was about 6’3″ and 265 lbs. with 18″ forearms and nearly 10″ wrists. Besides bending huge thick bars, he lifted a pair of train wheels that weighed 366-lbs. over his head. Uni may have had the strongest hands, wrists, forearms and upper arms of all time.
The center handle or axle of the train wheels was so thick (about 2 inches) that most men couldn’t even come close to wrapping their fingers around it and could not even start to lift it. Hundreds of men tried and failed. The wheels remained floor-bound for nearly 30 years until the great French champion weightlifter, Charles Rigoulot, lifted them in 1930.
Another World class Strongman to conquer the Apollon Wheels was the Legendary John Davis.
John Davis: Olympic Weightlifting Icon
The Joe Louis of Olympic Weightlifting, John Davis’ reign on the top of the biggest strength sport in the World at the time was/is unmatch and will likely never be. John literally was considered the World’s Strongest Man from the time we won the Weightlifting World Championship in 1938, to the time he was finally dethrone at the World Championships held in Stockholm in 1953. In that span of time John won a unpresidented 6 World Championships of Weightlifting, 2 Olympic Gold medals, and 16 World Records. At a time when Powerlifting and Strongman was unorganized, there was not a man a live who could dispute him being the Strongest man on the planet.
Doug Hepburn ushers in the era of the 300 + pound Strongmen
How dominate was Doug Hepburn in his prime? At the same point in time Doug held the bench press record, the squat record, the two hand curl record, the dumbbell crucifix hold record, the Olympic clean and press record, the Olympic clean and jerk record, and the Olympic total record. To sum it up, he was the strongest man on the planet in pretty much any feat of strength you’d like to test him in. To become the World Champion in Olympic weightlifting Doug dethroned the most dominant Olympic weightlifting Champion the sport had ever seen in John Davis. Davis had been the World Champion, and undefeated in competition, from 1938 up until he met Doug Hepburn at the World Championships in 1953 in Sweden.
After becoming World Champion Doug began re-writing the record books. No other man had been so dominate in the powerlifting lifts (squat, bench press and deadlift) the Olympic lifts (clean and jerk, snatch, and at the time clean and press) and strong man feats. Among some of his greatest victories (like handing John Davis his first defeat) is a win over the all time great Paul Anderson. Below is a picture of Doug performing the famous backlift.
Although great, Doug’s prime would be cut short due to his battle with alcoholism. By the late 1950’s Doug was already past his prime. Before he left strength competition he would defeat, but ultimately be replaced by a budding star. That star was none other than Paul Anderson.
The Mighty Minister: Paul Anderson
Paul Edward Anderson (October 17, 1932 – August 15, 1994) was a weightlifter, strongman, and powerlifter. An Olympic and World Champion Weighlifter, Paul raise the bar (literally) past what any one would believe to be possible in the squat. As an amateur, Paul was considered unbeatable while in his prime. As a prospect he was a rival of Doug Hepburn’s, but would progress to break and exceed Doug’s Olympic Weightlifting and Squat records.
As a professional strongman, Paul was equally as dominate, never having lost a challenge and reigning as the undisputed World’s Strongest Man for the better part of a decade. At a bodyweight of the mid 300’s Paul was well ahead of his time for size and strength. It would be hard to argue any one dominated their era like Paul did.
Bill Kazmaier helps bring to prominence the sport of Strongman
Bill Kazmaier (born December 30, 1953, in Burlington, Wisconsin) During the 1970s and 80s, he set numerous powerlifting and strongman world records, and won two International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) world championships and three World’s Strongest Man titles.
In 1978, Kazmaier won the IPF world powerlifting championship and the American powerlifting championship. He won the IPF world championship again in 1983. In 1981, Kazmaier became the first person to bench press 300 kg in competition. The 1981 event was the same competition in which he totaled 1,100 kg (2,425 lb). His best lifts were: 925 lbs squat (done without a suit), 662 lbs bench press, and 974 lbs deadlift.
Kazmaier won the World’s Strongest Man (WSM) title three times in 1980, 1981, and 1982.After these victories, Kazmaier was not invited back to compete in the WSM contest again until 1988, when he finished second to Jón Páll Sigmarsson. He finished fourth in his final WSM appearance in 1989.
The heir to the throne: Páll Sigmarsson
Jón Páll Sigmarsson (April 28, 1960 – January 16, 1993) was a strongman, a powerlifter, and a bodybuilder from Iceland who won the World’s Strongest Man Competition four times (1984, 1986, 1988, 1990).
As a World class Powerlifter (3rd at the World Championships) and the most dominant Strongman of his era, Sigmarsson was the stuff of legend. He is famous for shouting “I am a viking!” during competition. He is also famous for proclaiming that he loved the deadlift so much if he could no longer deadlift he would rather die. Jón Páll Sigmarsson died January 16th, 1993 while deadlifting from a heart attack. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. His legend only grew even greater.
Hugo Girard: The Motivator
Hugo Girard (born December 20, 1971 in Sainte-Anne-de-Portneuf, Quebec) has always had a way with words. He was always capable of motivating others in believing in themselves through example. He decided as a young boy to set the bar high (pun intended). As an 8-year-old he told his mother he wanted to grow up to be the strongest man in the World.
As a Strongman Super Series World Champion, a four-time World Muscle Power champion and a six-time Canada’s Strongest Man, he kept his promise. While his reign at the top was short due to unfortunate injuries, no one can deny his claim. It is a trivia piece that Girard is the most decorated Strongman to never win the World’s Strongest Man tournament. This has as much to do with bad timing of injuries as it does the events WSM chooses (which is why the Arnold Classic has replaced the WSM tournament as the true test of who is the strongest man on the planet to many).
However, the Strongman Super Series World Champion was made to take out all controversy. The World Champion would be crowned not by winning one event during the year, but the competitor who won the most points in events throughout the year, thus settling any dispute as to bias with chosen events for competitions. Hugo won the World Championship, beating a prime Mariusz Pudzianowski repeatedly during the Strongman schedule. While injuries would take him out of competition shortly after, it is arguable whether any one could have beaten him during his prime (regardless how short it may have been).
The Greatest World’s Strongest Man of all time: Mariusz Pudzianowski
Mariusz Zbigniew Pudzianowski (born on February 7, 1977 in Biała Rawska) has surpassed all other strongmen competitors winning the prestigious World’s Strongest Man title five times, as well as two close second place finishes. No other competitor in the sport of Strongman has been as dominate.
In a career of dominance (his nick name is the Dominator) he won the Polish Strongman Championship 6 times, the European Strongman Championship 6 times, and the Strongman Super Series World Championship (a title that is won by winning an elite series of events throughout the strongman scheduled year) 4 times.
No list of the history’s strongest men can be complete without his name included.