A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Lorien Mattiacci
If Goliath had been an 18,000-pound truck, and a chain and harness had replaced the storied slingshot, could have taken him. The 27-year-old spends his days as an HCC student, husband, and father, but at least three times a week he transforms into a Strongman. A Strongman doesn’t languish in the luxury of a fancy, air-conditioned gym with puny standardized weights. no, a Strongman goes outside, under the hot Florida sun, and lifts Atlas Stones, flips tires, presses logs, and pulls Sleds and nine-ton trucks, all in preparation for local, state, and national Strongman competitions. oK, sometimes he goes to a gym, because, as Davis says, “it is easier to gauge [the weight you’re lifting] and more convenient.” When preparing for a competition, Davis aims to train outside with actual competition implements three times a week for an average of three hours each session and only once for two hours in the gym. When not training for a competition, he may go to the gym more often. What events could one expect to see at a Strongman meet? The answer varies with each competition. Davis’ favorite event is the Super Yoke, which entails using a steel bar to yoke between 500 to 1000 pounds of weight to the one’s shoulders. Each contestant takes a turn dragging this for a set distance, and the quickest man wins. Davis suspects that the best-known event is probably the Atlas Stones, also known as the McGlashan Stones. These large concrete spheres usually have a diameter of 18-23 inches, depending on their weight, which ranges from 135 to 365 pounds. Each contestant takes turns lifting each of the five handleless spheres from the ground, carrying them to a shoulder-height platform, and raising them onto it. other events include the Tire Flip, in which the contestant flips a tire weighing between 700 and 1000+ pounds end over end for a set time or distance, and the Farmer’s Walk, in which each man carries an intense weight, say 275 pounds in each hand, for a set distance. There are various Strongman pulling events, like the aforementioned Truck Pull and the Sled Pull. The Sled Pull has a lot in common with the Truck Pull, except that the man pulls weight on a sled instead of a truck. There are also pressing events, like the log Press and the Viking Press. The log Press does not actually involve logs anymore: now, contestants lift a large steel cylinder, approximately 12 inches in diameter and up to 6 feet long, by two steel handles in the middle. These handles may be made of almost anything, but commonly consist of scrap barbells or plumbing pipe. These modern “logs” may weigh as little as 250 pounds, but the world record is 400 pounds. Similarly, the Viking Press has no real Viking in it. This device consists of bicycle-like handlebars at the end of a long steel bar. The bar protrudes from a fulcrum, like a hinge, at the ground, which, according to Davis, “enables lifters to take more weight.” The weight, commonly around 315 pounds, rests atop the steel pole, closer to the competitor than to the fulcrum. The handlebars start just below the contestant’s shoulders, and he must press them up over his head. one of two criteria determines the winner of a press event: the victory either goes to the man who lifted the most weight or the man who lifted a set weight the most times. newcomers to this sport may notice a trend in the vocabulary used to describe Strongman events. The words “either,” “approximately,” “range,” and “depending” seem to apply to every event, and Strongmen like it this way. According to Davis, Strongmen “discourage standardization because [it would defeat] the spirit of the games.” left in their purest forms, the events exhibit the contestants’ “brute, all-body strength, or functional strength.” The Strongmen don’t want their sport distilled into a competition of technique. Because each implement of every Strongman event will be largely shown specific, it really highlights the participants’ actual abilities. As Davis states, “if you want a refrigerator moved, call a Strongman.”
While each of the implements has only broad characteristics, the sport itself has a sanctioning body that oversees all official competitions. north American Strongman Incorporated serves as the national sanctioning body. This entity elects state chairmen to preside in states that have enough interest. So far, 37 states have chairmen, including Florida. Even with a governing body, sponsors like Metrix, and coverage by ESPN, local Strongman competitions are uncommon. According to Davis, a strongman can expect “about three competitions a year, without having to travel.” Davis’ wife, Margie, and 18-month-old son, Ian, had the pleasure of watching him compete in a different kind of competition recently. Davis participated in the Highland Games at the Zephyrhills Celtic Festival. The Highland Games were not a Strongman contest- says Davis,“they are like a standard track decathlon, except the competitors wear kilts.” Even without a Super Yoke event, Davis managed to come in third place. While he enjoyed having his son in the audience, Davis doesn’t believe in forcing children into a sport or activity. He thinks, “children should be involved on a voluntary basis.” of course, he’ll be Ian’s number one fan and personal trainer should the boy decide one day to trade his dumbbell rattle for a Super Yoke. He does, however, intend to impart the importance of physical fitness, no matter where his son’s interests take him. Davis did not always possess the level of fitness he has today. Before he found the Strongman games, he loved video games. He had passed 400 pounds when he went to watch a Strongman competition. one of the contestants spotted him and encouraged him to get into shape. Davis took this unsolicited advice to heart and remains an advocate of physical fitness today. He is trying to establish a strength-training club at HCC and is currently in search of a faculty advisor. After HCC, Davis hopes to continue to USF to pursue a degree in Physical Education and become a strength coach for a college athletic department. For more information about Joshua Davis, visit his website, www. joshua-davis.com. To learn more about Strongman events, check out the North American Strongman web site at http://www.nastrongman.com.