2002 Arnold Strongman Classic: the REAL World’s Strongest Man competition

2002 Arnold Strongman Classic: the REAL World’s Strongest Man competition

The problem with the so-called “World’s Strongest Man” contests is more about endurance strength and athletism than sheer power and brute strength?!?  I want to know who is the world’s strongest man not the world’s strongest athlete! 

World’s Strongest Man my ass!?!
If it was so, the 400-plus pounds O.D. Wilson wouldn’t have been robbed the 1990 World’s Strongest Man title in depend of the slimmer and better looking Jon Pall Sigmarsson.  Losing a pointless timed long race carrying a very small weight???  It’s supposed to be the World’s Strongest Man not the world’s fastest man…

Another example is when Gerritt Badenhorst – having an official deadlift of almost 900 pounds – was facing Forbes Cowan – slighter and weaker than him – in a static event of lifting and holding a car for time in a wheelbarrow fashion.   Badenhorst lifted the car with ease while Cowan needed every bit of his strength to lift the car and struggled to raise the car to a locked position.  However, Cowan was able to hold the car for a longer time than Badenhorst.  So who is the strongest man now?  I know for fact that this kind of static hold events are pointless, boring and more about mental toughness than physical strength.   

So forget about speed, endurance, and athletism.  In that kind of crappy competition even a monster like Louis Cyr – the strongest man who ever lived – wouldn’t be able to qualifie and compete…

Arnold Strongman Classic
This contest was specifically designed to not give an advantage to strongmen of any particular discipline. In other words, they designed three tests of strength that would represent each of the three three disciplines of strength (Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman).  But each of the three events was made to put each competitors outside of their confort zone.
Terry Todd and his wife Jan Todd, David Webster and Bill Kazmaier are the men behind the Arnold Strongman Classic.  They are the men who just like me and thousands of other people wanted to know who is the REAL World’s Strongest Man.  Since each kingpin of the three disciplines are billed as the Strongest Man in the World.  But who is the ultimate strongest man?

The 3 or 4 events

  1. The first event they thought about was the Apollon’s Wheels.  An historical 366 pounds with a 1.93″ thick bar. The wheel diameter is 26 inches (65 cm).   Lifting the wheels from the floor to overhead as many times as possible in two minutes.A strength event designed to duplicate the Olympic clean-and-jerk but with a classic strongman twist that would put even the strongest weightlifter outside of his confort zone.

    Second, our four masterminds wanted an event inspired by the WSM’s Farmer’s Walk but with a little twist to put strongman competitors off-balance. They wanted a ultra-heavy carrying event with a 30-second time-limit. Not the usual silly 90 seconds more designed to measure strength-endurance than actual strength. Then the Timber’s Walk was created and since adopted by many strongman events across the world. A huge and fearsome 800 plus pounds square of wood designed to be gripped in the center by the competitor and walked up a wheelchair ramp.

    Then the third event would be the unevitable deadlift. Being the most basic test of brute strength ever, deadlift was indispensable in a competition aiming to crowned the strongest man in the world.  It was supposed to be a car or truck deadlift using regular bar-in-front-of-the-shin overhand grip.  But unfortunately it wasn’t met to be since the apparitus was impossible to climb on stage.  So they settled for a regular maximum weight deadlift for singles using straps. 

Another problem with the deadlift, since the 885 pounds was the maximum weight was the maximum weight that could be put on the bar.  With the 8 humongous competitors presents, 885 lbs deadlift wasn’t heavy enough for singles.  So the organisators opted for a deadlift for repetitions.  And they didn’t want the grip strength to be a determining factor in the deadlift event.  Since the Apollon’s Wheels and the Timber’s Walk were both taxing for the hands.

And the fourth event, pointless but somewhat necessary, was the Hummer truck push.  Since Hummer was their major sponsor it was a kind of obligation to include an Hummer somewhere in the contest.

The 8 chosen ones
The original plan was to invite 8 competitors; two leading weightlifters, two leading powerlifters, two leading Strongman competitors, and two people who were outstanding in two or more of the disciplines of strength.  I’ve also indicated all the men who were invited but declined.

In weightlifting
1th choice: Bulgarian national who transferred citizenship to Qatar, Jaber Saeed Salem, top weightlifter in 2001…  2th choice: Andrei Chemerkin of Russia, former Olympic gold medal winner and multiple world champion…  3th choice: Germany ‘s Ronny Weller…  4th choice Raimonds Bergmanis

Raimonds Bergmanis, Latvia, 6’3″, 300, 31 years old
Member of the security guard of the Latvia president
3 times Olympian Champion in Weightlifting
5 time Latvian Weightlifting Champion
WSM events competitor

In powerlifting
1th choice: Brad Gillingham…  2th choice: Gary Frank, 6’4″, almost 400 lbs WPO superstar who became the first man  to squat over 1000 lbs, bench press over 700 lbs and deadlift over 900 lbs official lifts in one contest.  Frank also has a background in the field events and football…  3th choice: Andy Bolton.

Brad Gillingham, Minneota, Minnesota, USA, 6’4″, 325 lbs, 35 years old  
Environmental enginner for the state of Minnesota
2000-2001 World SuperHeavyweight Powerlifting Champion in the International Powerlifting Federation
5 times United States National Powerlifting Champion in the SuperHeavyweight division
His father was a 5 times NFL All-Pro

Andy Bolton, Leeds, England, 6′, 330 lbs, 31 years old
Security guard for the Stag security in Leeds
2001 SuperHeavyweight World Powerlifting Champion in the World Powerlifting Congress
5 times World Powerlifting Champion
8 time British Champion in Powerlifting
Holder of the all-time World Record in deadlift 921.5 pounds

In the Strongman world
1th choice: Svend Karlsen…  2th choice: Sweden ‘s Magnus Samuelsson, 2001 WSM runner-up and former winner…  3th choice: Phil Pfister…  4th choice: Canada ‘s Hugo Girard…  5th choice: Finnish strongman Janne Virtanen…  6th and last choice: Brian Schoonveld.

Svend Karlsen, Norway, 6’3″, 320 lbs
Professional strongman
Winner of the ESPN World’s Strongest Man competition last year (2001)
Top rank strongman of the world
Former professional bodybuilder, holder of an IBF card as a pro.

Phil Pfister, Charleston, West Virginia, USA, 6’6″, 320 lbs, 30 years old
Firefighter for Charleston West Virginia fire department and professional strongman
A finalist of the last 3 years in the World’s Strongest Man competitions
The top-rated American Strongman competitor over the past couple of years.

Brian Schoonveld, Valporaiso, Indiana, USA, 6’3″, 318 lbs, 27 years old
Union labor
2 times United States Strongman Champion

Those who distinguished themselves in two of the three strenth discipline
1th choice: Mark Philippi…  2th choice: Oklahoma’s Shane Hamman, was one of the greatest squatters in the world with an official best of over 1000 pounds.  Came from powerlifting into weightlifting erasing all three of Mark Henry’s national record.  Was seen as an ideal candidate…  3th choice: Greg Kovacs, 6’4″, 380 lbs bodybuilder with claims of being the strongest man in the world doing such things as incline press 650 lbs x 6 reps and seated press 500 lbs x 10, and so on….  4th choice: Mark Henry

Mark Philippi, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 6′, 305 lbs, 36 years old
Strength and conditioning coach of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Last winner of the American Strongman Contest in 1999
Finalist of the ESPN World’s Strongest Man competitions
Elite level powerlifter in the American Drugfree Powerlifting Federation

Mark Henry, Austin, Texas, USA, 6’3″, 390 lbs, 30 years old
WWE professional wrestler since 1996
Member of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic Team in Weightlifting
Many times National Champion in Weightlifting in the mid-90s
Holder of all the American Weightlifting Records
National and World Drug Free Powerlifting Champion in 1995 in the SuperHeavyweight class
Setting many world records in the Squat, Deadlift, and Total.
Holder of the World Record Deadlift of 903 pounds
Holder, since early 1995, of the all-time highest combined weightlifting/powerlifting Supertotal as well as 5-lift-total (snatch, clean and jerk, squat, bench press, deadlift) in history – 3,171 pounds- all made within approximately six months.

Mark Henry won the Appolon’s Wheels with 3 clean and jerk!!

The Challenge was the lifting of the Apollon’s Wheels – a 366 pound (166 kg), 1.93 inch (49 mm) bar that doesn’t rotate and a wheel diameter of 26 inches (65 cm).  Ivanko Barbell Company made an exact replica of the original APOLLON’S WHEELS.  Man Mountain MARK HENRY won this event and eventually the Hummer by clean & jerking this ponderous beast of a weight 3 times!! It also equalled the world record.

The authentic Apollon Wheels. IronMind® | Randall J. Strossen photo.

Those who lifted the Apollon’s Wheels overhead in the last century:

Louis “Apollon” Uni, 6’3″, circa 260 lbs (non officially lifted it on several occasions since 1892)
Charles Rigoulot, 225 lbs – 1 clean and jerk (Paris,France, March 3, 1930)
John Davis, 215 lbs – 1 clean and jerk (September 13, 1949, Paris, France)
Norbert Schemansky, 223 lbs – 3 clean and jerk (October 1954, Lille, France)
(All three above lifted the original Apollon’s Wheels officially.  All three were at one time or another World Weightlifting champions.)
Mark Henry, 390 lbs – 3 clean and jerk
Mark Philippi, 305 lbs – 1 clean and jerk


366 pounds Apollon’s Wheels

1.Mark Henry: 3 cleans and jerks.
2.Mark Philippi: 1 clean and jerk.
3.Svend Karlsen: 2 cleans, no jerks.
Contestants who could not make any clean with the bar, went to the tie with a lighter bar, 147 kilos (323 lbs).
4.Phil Pfister: 3 cleans and jerks.
4.Brad Gilligham: 3 cleans and jerks.
5. Brian Schoonveld: 1 clean and jerk.
6. Raimons Bergmanis: 1 clean.
7. Andy Bolton: No pudo elevar la barra.

Deadlift with straps

1. Andy Bolton: 885 lbs x 3 reps
2. Mark Henry: 885 lbs x 2 reps
3. Brad Gillingham: 865 lbs
4. Mark Philippi: 825 lbs
5. Raimond Bergmanis: 815 lbs
6. Svend Karlsen: 775 lbs
7. Phil Pfister: 715 lbs
8. Brian Schoonveld: 665 lbs

Flat tires Hummer Push on 40′

1. Raimonds Bergmanis: 17.07 seconds
2. Svend Karlsen: 17.62 seconds
3. Phil Pfister: 18 seconds
4. Mark Philippi: 18.53 seconds
5. Mark Henry: 20.59 seconds
6. Andy Bolton: 23.47 seconds
7. Brad Gillingham: 25.60 seconds
8. Brian Schoonveld: 35’6″ in the allowed 30 seconds.

820-pound Timber’s Walk on 45′

1. Phil Pfister: 8.7 seconds
2. Svend Karlsen: 9.5 seconds
3. Mark Henry
4. Brian Schoonveld: 13.5 seconds
5. Andy Bolton: 19.2 seconds
6. Mark Philippi
7. Raimonds Bergmanis
8. Brad Gillingham

2002 Arnold Strength Summit – Final Results, total points, and Prize.

1. Mark Henry 25 points                  Hummer + $10,000
2. Svend Karlsen 22.5 points                              $15,000
3. Phil Pfister 21.5 points                                   $10,000
4. Mark Philippi 20 points                                    $5,000
5. Andy Bolton 16 points                                     $3,500
5. Raimonds Bergmanis 16 points                        $3,500
7. Brad Gillingham 13 points                                $2,000
8. Brian Schoonveld 10 points                              $1,000

Mark Henry 2002 Arnold Classic Strongman performances

  • Apollon’s Wheels (366-lb, 1.93″ thick bar): 1th position (3 clean and jerk)
  • Deadlift: 2th position (885 lbs x 2 reps)
  • Hummer Push (40′ deflated tires): 5th position (20.59 seconds)
  • Timber’s Walk (820 lbs on 45′): 3th position

Final results: 25 points

The Strongest Man in the World
Member of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic Team in Weightlifting
Many times National Champion in Weightlifting and American record holder
World Powerlifting Champion in 1995 in the SuperHeavyweight class
Holder of the World Record Deadlift of 903 pounds
30 years old, 6’3″, 390 lbs

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