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a strongman, in the quaint foreign policy jargon, is "our own bastard down there". For example, Noriega was the strongman in Panama, and Pinochet was the strongman in Chile, and Saddam Hussein, before turning into a dictator or even maybe a tyrant was the strongman in Iraq.

A strongman may be redefined as a dictator, when the need arises.

Strongman is a competitive strength sport testing an athlete's explosive power, strength and endurance. Competitions have been held since the World's Strongest Man began in 1977 (usually you can catch these during the wee hours on ESPN2). In the last few years it has grown in popularity, and numerous contests have sprouted both nationally and locally.

Competitors do not necessarily need to be genetic mutants in order to compete, although the majority of them come with backgrounds from powerlifting and Olympic lifting. Others have experience in heavy event Highland games. Yet others simply have years of grinding manual labor on which to call. The athletes need to perform a wide range of specialized training in order to excel.

A standard strongman competition consists of four to six events picked from an established group of 15. The type and amount of events is determined by the creativity and budget of the promoting organization.

The basic breakdown per discipline with some representative events is as follows:

Max Pull from the Ground

  • Stone Lift Max - The heaviest possible stone is lifted to shoulder height.
  • Car Deadlift - A bar extending from the end of a car is grasped deadlift style. The athlete lifts the car as many times as possible.
  • Loading - This is a timed event in which five heavy objects weighing 220-335 pounds are loaded on to a platform. The objects could be anything from stones, sandbags, anvils or ship anchors. Sometimes it is done at stations along a 50-foot course.

Heavy Support Walking

  • Farmer's Walk - competitor lifts 200-300 pound "suitcases" (basically oversized dumbbells on to which have been welded an extra handle) and walks a straight or loop course. This can be designed as a timed event, a race or a max distance event.
  • Car Carry - In this one the competitor literally wears the car. The roof, floor, engine and transmission are removed, and the competitor straps in to a harness. He stands up and goes as far as he can. Often this is set up as a two-man race.

Strength Endurance

  • Tire Flip - a 600-800 pound tire is flipped (not rolled) down a course for time.
  • Harness Pull - while strapped in to a chest harness, the athlete pulls a truck or tractor (anything heavy that rolls). This is performed as a timed event or race.
  • Arm-over-Arm - Similar to the Harness Pull, except that the competitor is stationary and pulls the object toward him using a thick rope. Often it is a timed event.

Overhead Max

  • Log Max - A weighted log with handles is lifted for max reps. This can also be done with a stone, keg or sandbag.

Grip Endurance

  • Farmer's Hold - The Farmer's Walk suitcases are held for time.
  • Crucifix Hold - Weights are held straight out from the sides, elbows locked, for time.
  • Hercules Hold - A competitor stands in a cable-pulley machine with up to 290-pound weighted cable handles in each hand. As with the previous two, whoever holds on the longest wins.

Conceptually, the events also seem to be more accessible for spectators. Whereas a 525-pound bench press might not mean much to the casual observer, watching someone pull a tow truck across a parking lot is something to which they can relate.

Americans Bill Kazimer and Bruce Wilhelm dominated the event until 1983. Athletes from Britain and Iceland then swapped the title until the '90's. Iceland's Magnus Ver Magnusson won the event a whopping five times and finished second twice during that decade. The current World's Strongest Man is Mariusz Pudzianowski from Poland.

References: http://www.btinternet.com/~m.d.pratesi/mp/WSMindex.html#tag_28 http://www.totalperformancesports.com/strongmantraining.htm http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Field/4992/strongman.html

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