Some sports have ancient histories dating back millennia- like javelin throwing, wrestling (sexy or otherwise), archery, and doorbell ditching. Strongman’s origins are similarly varied and prehistoric, spanning ethnicities, borders, generations, and genders.
Basically, people have picked up heavy shit and then put it somewhere for as long as there’s been such a thing as people.
Feats of strength are an important part of being human. For some, it’s a purposeful and focused expression of aggression, itself a necessary component of participating in human life. In order to create, we must have aggression. The bird must be aggressive to break its shell; the butterfly must survive intensive transformation in order to emerge from its chrysalis. These feats of strength, too, bring life to our cycle of birth and death.
It’s also pretty badass to watch people lift heavy shit, and even more badass when you take the risk and do it yourself. There is really nothing quite like that feeling of asserting your physical self even when your mind says “Are you fucking kidding me with that???”
Strongman is about ferocity, receptivity, and taking a risk that you are actually more capable than you think you are. I think Winnie the Pooh said that.
Wait, here it is. Christopher Robin says to Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Strongman as a sport has evolved over the generations, in more recent history from circus sideshows into an internationally-recognized sport. From nail bending to Budgie to Highland games and other current day strongman contests, Strongman keeps on growing. CrossFit has been attributed as being a gateway sport for some Strongman competitors (this guy included).
Some of the events you might see in contemporary Strongman sport include:
Atlas stones: You take these big ass concrete balls and lift them onto a platform, over a bar, onto your shoulder, something like that.
Log: Clean and press this giant cylinder over your head as many times as you can, or for max weight.
Yoke Carry: Carry a huge fucking contraption on your traps for distance, time, and weight. In my upcoming competition, I’ll have to carry a 350# yoke, for some unknown distance and/or time.
(I don’t have a picture of this yet and am not willing to thieve one from the interwebs, but you can google “yoke strongman” and see what I’m talking about)
Some other events are keg carry or toss; sled drag; farmer’s carry; car deadlift; truck pull; all kinds of other shit that sounds basically like you’re hanging out in a junkyard and finding the heaviest and most uncomfortably-shaped item to do something totally normal with. Like, you’re putting away your groceries, but instead of groceries it’s a giant tire or some oddly-shaped tree trunk.
So why would anyone DO this??
Because it’s fun, of course. 😀
Here is a link to Wikipedia’s wisdom on Strongman for further reading.