History of
 World Strongman

Strongman sport – is a sports discipline of speed power all-around, based on exercises of lifting and moving weights, done individually or in pair, measured by time or distance.
In 2003 Latvian NGO WORLD STRONGMAN was organized and registered. The main objective of WORLD STRONGMAN is assistance in development of strongman sport around of World. In the Union WORLD STRONGMAN 52 countries are represented. There are three main directions:
• Strongmen sport (for amateurs, from national to world championships in 4 weight categories FOR MEN);
• Strongmen show (tournaments for professionals, strongmen World Cups);
• Ethnosport-strongmen (traditional games, The World Series of Ethnosport Challenge tournaments).
WORLD STRONGMAN has introduced standards for exercises and equipment, weight and age categories, has developed and consistently improves strongmen sports training system «StrongFit». Alongside this diversification (as a growth strategy) in strongmen sport takes place in organization and condition of authentic traditional games.
Historically weightlifting has been established in the traditional games, during popular celebrations and ceremonies1. Traditional games always have a cultural nucleus in a form of main competitions – Laamb wrestling holiday in Senegal, wall fistfighting at Atmanov’s Kulachki in Russia, Three Games of Men (wrestling, archery and horse raiding) at Nadom fest in Mongolia. Strongmen competitions are the core of Highland games in Scotland as well.
Development of strongmen sports is closely connected with the history of other power sports, where we clearly see elements of basic human physical activities during ancient times. For many prehistoric tribes, the traditional test of manhood was the lifting of a special rock. Such manhood stones, some with the name of the first lifter incised, exist in Greece and in Scottish castles. The competitive lifting of stones still persists locally in Germany, Iceland3, Switzerland, the highlands of Montenegro, France and the Basque region of Spain. The consecutive number of lifts is used to declare a winner. Strongman competitions were always appealing to the public, and the strongmen themselves became “stars”. That is now since the 18th and 19th centuries, people like Eugen Sandow (1867–1925) and Arthur Saxon (1878–1921) in Germany, George Hackenschmidt (1877–1968) in Russia and Louis Apollon (1862–1928) in France, who performed in circuses and theaters became famous4. An important factor in the genesis of modern strongmen sport was the appearance of the first specialized club in 1885 – the “circle of athletics fans” by Dr. Vladislav Krajewski (1841–1901) in St. Petersburg (Russia), which used equipment, which later became mandatory for training in this kind of sport: Uni dumbbells, Apollo axel, Calvert barbell, Windish dumbbells, etc.
The first strongman competitions, similar in concept to the modern sport of strongmen, were recorded already in the 19th century. In March 28, 1891, the first world weight lifting championship was held in café “Monica”, in London, with the participation of 7 champions from Germany, England, Austria, Belgium and Italy. The three-day event consisted of repetitions and an alternate weight press of 25 kg or 38 kg in each arm. The first world champion was Edward Lawrence Levy (1851–1932) from England5. Weightlifting of this period was not very different from the modern strongmen sport, since there were no weight categories, and many disciplines and the press were performed with one or two hands. Weightlifting’s competitions were included in the program of the first IOC Olympic Games 1896, 1900 and 1904, but then they were excluded until 1920. In the same year, the International Federation of Weightlifting (Fédération Haltérophile Internationale) was established by the International Olympic Committee. It is important to note that the press with one and two hands was practiced at the Olympic tournaments until 1928, then they decided to carry out only the usual grips with two hands in snatch, clean and jerk, clean and press.

HISTORY topic from:

Redjkins, V. Ethnosport-strongmen discipline: alfa and omega of the world’s strongmen
movement. International Journal of Ethnosport and Traditional Games, №1 (1), 18–31.
DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.34685/HI.2019.1.1.008

 World Strongman