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Greatest strongman of all time


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I was going to throw this question out to Roark..... but I might as well ask all on the GripBoard.  Who (in your own humble opinion) do you think best deserves your vote as "The Greatest Strongman Of All Time".  Boy!... this is a toughie, since there have been oh SO many over the years.

As for me, it would have to be Arthur Saxon.  He was definitely one of the greatest ever, and he always trained HEAVY.  Looking at him, you would never guess that his slight stature would conceal such a stong man.  At a bodyweight of about 200 pounds, he could bent press 370.  Gawd!!  :0

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Guest Harlan Jacobs

When I first seen this , I thought about all the great strongmen of the past. But for my money, I am going to say KAZ. There have been beter lifters in certain lifts, but over all he is my vote. I know the some of the oldtime lifters boasted some huge lifts, But without none of us being able to see these lifts , I am going with somthing I know.

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Guest 86-1005097353

It makes a difference how you define strength. There is also the consideration of drug usage to augment performance.

Doug Hepburn, who died last year, claimed he was the strongest man who ever lived. He stated that drug usage increased performances by 35% or more and that he could not be compared to modern powerlifters. Doug was strong across the sport and was the world weightlifting champion in 1953. He set world records in bench pressing and other feats of strength. He could do a standing press of 450 pounds.

Paul Anderson was a contemporary of Hepburn's and squatted with huge weights. He was also a world WL champion.

I suppose the best that we can do is list the various feats and marvel at what these men could do. I doubt whether we could rank the men on a list. In recent years there have been strongest man contests and those participating demonstrated exceptional strength. It is an interesting exercise to wonder what some of the past champions would have compared to the modern champions given the same conditions and facilities to train. Not to mention nutrition and chemical supplements.

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Guest CalvinP

Modern strong men (WSM) look like a behemoth-drug-induce-steroid-heads. They are strong just because of the shear mass too. Old timer used to look leaner (except 1 or 2), muscular yet normal. They did not have huge pectoral muscle, and 22" or bigger arms. Take The Mighty Atom for example. He was a small man under 5'5" and about 145 lbs. Old timer seem to have functional strength too.

Please don't include power lifters here. Just because they can bench press, dead lift, and squat doesn't means they have strong grip or have exceptional mid section (abs). Anthony Clark (strongest power lifter) couldn't even close coc #2

For me to be called strongest man you must be strong in every aspect of bodily muscular function. At least all the major muscle groups. Only name come up that met all these requirements is The Mighty Atom. I think you can go to www.naturalstrength.com/  to find The Mighty Atom's history

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Because you did not mention a lift or set of lifts

to use in judging this, I assume you mean strongest

all-round man. In the Health & Strength Annual for

1938 there is a listing of the 42 recognized lifts of

the British Amateur Weight-Lifters' Assoc: To use those

as a semi-guide, we would have 16 lifts involving one

hand, 9 lifts involving 2 dumbells, and 17 lifts involving

two hands (on one bell).

So if, over a given (short) span of time a man were to be

required to perform all these, and somehow assuming each man was skilled at each lift, and ADDING some grip strength

requirements, I, well, I'll get back to you because this is

a question that you caught me with before my coffee-

Don't do that!

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Ah coffee!

If there are 50 lifts contested, it may be that 50

different men each win a speciality, but that's

reality and not the answer you're after.

Assuming a victory in a test is one point, and a loss

is no point: so that if I squat 1,000 and you close #4,

we each have a point...And assuming the test involves

leg strength and every other major muscle group...

I am so tempted to tell you who is NOT in the running

for this,(respectfully, Kingpin, keep reading) but to the point:

In the old days, Apollon. In more recent times, Kaz.

Each would, given a gauntlet of tasks, surpass his

opponents, and much as it pains me to acknowledge it,

Kaz would defeat Apollon.

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Guest woody36


    How do you think Kaz would have done in the same

time period as the others,without the advantages of shall

we say "Modern Medicine".

Mark Henry would have fared well with some of the Greats

of the past,but this is only my opinion.

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You're right, I was leaving modern medicine out

of it, and knee wraps long enough to form a

suspension bridge, and monkey shirts that would stop

a bullet.

Kaz would have held his own in the old days, particluarly

where leg strength was involved.

Mark Henry is brutally strong, but not skilled- he

used to muscle up his snatches, and in olympic

lifting was easily outlifted by lighter men. But in the

deadlift- stand back!

Mark was at the Todd McLean Collection in Austin some

years ago and Terry Todd has a very thick handled

barbell there (whose weight and measurements I do

not know) and Terry asked Mark to see if he could

do a one hand deadlift with it. The bar appeared to be

at least three inches in diameter. Mark asked what the

big deal was, and Terry indicated that most men

have trouble getting the barbell off the floor with two hands.

They bickered for a while, then Terry said, "Are you going to try it or NOT!"

With that, Mark, bent over, grabbed the bar with one hand

and easily lifted it past his waist. It was a casual,

effortless display of unreal strength. Mark can also

close the #3 with either hand, with the gripper upright or

inverted. He is not certified, but he has been witnessed

by Terry, who believe me, knows something about


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Guest woody36

If memory serves,there was a thread on here awhile ago

by i think Richard Sorin where he talked of Mark lifting an

Inch replica?. And offering to do an upright row with it

for a thousand dollar fee.

But don't trust my memory!

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I apologize if I offended you; these are

opinions and yours is yours. It's just that

Jowett, well... I've said enough. Again,

accept my apology.

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Roark, no appology needed.  I was only joking at myself.  I do not know a lot about the old timers that is why I never get involved in the debates on this board.  The only reason I passed a coment on him was because I recently read an article that Brooks Kubic wrote and it impressed me.  I know that there are many stronger people but that feat with the anvil just sounds so amazing.

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If you are referring to the 168 lb anvil...well,

that's only 4 lbs less than the Inch dumbell

and a much trickier clean...but there are some

people who believe it happened.

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Roark, you're right when I caught you by surprise!!  :)  

Actually, I should clarify.  I would like to know who is not only strong in one or two areas - but OVERALL..... and has mastered any lift thrown at him.

Also, I'm surprised no one has even mentioned Louis Cyr yet.  Anderson, Hepburn, Kazmeier, and Mark Henry have been noted.  And what about Dinnie, Aston, and some of the others!  (Boy this topic was a goodie!)  :)  :D

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Guest 68-1005097157

It's all about Iceland, baby.  I'm casting a solid vote for my man Jon Pall.  In order to decide who is the strongest man of all time, the real question is: who had the greatest levels of functional strength applicable to the most tasks.  I think that it would be nice and romantic to say that it was one of the old-time strongmen, but that's just not the case - it's going to be a modern-era WSM competitor.  The answer has to be Sigmarsson.  I don't have it with me right now, but in Sons of Samson Vol. II, Webster discusses Kaz and JPS and contests where both where involved; if you read this, I think you will be convinced that Sigmarsson was the man.  I certainly was.

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Even tough he don't do so good on the grippers, Ed Coan is a monster lifter. He can do one hand holds in the rack with close to 500 pounds. You won't find a better deadlifter and his squat is quite good (over 1000 pounds).

Canadian Louis Cyr was a great strongmen and he has tremendous back power. He should be in any top 3.

I like the brute strength of Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson.

It's hard to pick only one but here's my choice : Kazmaier

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well my vote for strongestmen who ever lived would be KAZ and Garry Frank. KAZ is awesome and 2606 by Garry Frank, nothing else needs to be said.

One more thing about Frank, in a recent issue of Powermag he stated he was getting burnt on powerlifting and was going to start picking up stones for money.

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This is almost undoubtedly the trickiest question there is to answer for the simple reason it is unquantifiable. It also depends on how you define "Greatest" - capable of the most poundage or being that much better than your contemporaries. The second is the definition I would use.

Another tricky point is of course that just because a lifter doesn't demonstrate excellence all-round doesn't necessarily mean they do not possess it. But of course we cannot assume that they do.

For all-round strength and ability, I think you must look at the contests that were created to measure all-round strength - namely Strongman. From this sport comes three names - Kaz, Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus Ver Magnusson. There is the argument that the emphasis has changed over the years from pure strength to more endurance/speed based events. Because of this I would personally give the nod to Kaz, when including his powerlifting exploits, as the greatest all-round strongman of all-time.

However, if asked to name the greatest strongman of all-time I would say, for his dominance as a big man in a sport contested around the globe, Vasili Alexeyev. I know others have won more titles (Suleymanoglu is just behind him in my mind). He never demonstrated (as far as I know)strength in other areas (carrying, grip etc) but I am almost certain he would have posessed it. However, he would get my vote due to his dominance and ability to catch the interest of the world. He wasn't the strongest (Serge Reding would almost certainly stronger) but he was The Man. And in my mind still is.

I would also extend my vote to Bev Francis as being the greatest Strongwoman of her time, for her powerlifting and track and field exploits.

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