11 April 2013

Baddest Rivalry Ever: Bill Kazmeier vs. Jon Pall Sigmarsson

Godzilla and Mothra.  Tyson and Holyfield.  Tom and Jerry.  Frazier and Ali.  Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.  David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.  Humanity has always loved a good rivalry, and the World's Strongest Man is no exception.  Unfortunately, WSM is no longer as it was, with huge men with huger personalities doing battle on what amounted to a game show for the illustrious British Meat trophy.  Certainly, modern athletes are better prepared for the events, better conditioned, and altogether superhuman, but the contest lacks the pitched battles of its forebears, the compelling characters, and the yearly rivalries.  The earliest of these rivalries was Britain's Geoff Capes, a man who from his appearance seemed better suited to beach volleyball than strongman, versus a psychotic, foaming at-the-mouth, apoplectic Bill Kazmaier.   Capes really couldn't hang with Kaz on anything, and was far too nice a guy to really make the rivalry interesting.  The hilariously named British Meat company was the sponsor at the time, however, so the show really tried to prop up their Brits as much as humanly possible.  Kaz dominated the field in 1981 and 1982, crushing his competition so completely that he was not invited back to the competition until 1988.

Jon Pall, some tiny goofball, and Geoff Capes, President of Sadotopia and Duke of Fatbodiland.

By the time Kaz got back into the WSM, Jon Pall Sigmarsson, a hilarious, jacked, and Norse-pride-infused Icelander was on top of the WSM heap.  Jon Pall was an interesting counterpoint to Kaz- whereas Kaz seemed to rely on a blend of hate-fueled rage and brute strength, Jon Pall combined a wry sense of humor, a hell of a lot of Viking pride, and an extremely diligent training schedule.  The two men then battled for preeminence in the world of strongman from 1987 through 1989, when Kaz finally quit the sport as his injuries accumulated faster than he could recover from each.  Frankly, one could say that their rivalry began after Kaz's strongman and powerlifting careers had reached their zenith, but their rivalry managed to transcend that fact simply because each was batshit insane enough, each in his own way, to make the competitions featuring both behemoths the greatest in history.

First, a tale of the tape:

On paper, both of these massive dudes were fairly similar- they were of similar height, more or less similar weight, and both began as powerlifters, though Kaz competed as a superheavyweight and Jon Pall competed in the 275 lb class.  Kaz, eldest of the two by seven years, started lifting weights when he was at the University of Wisconsin, where he played fullback.  After two years, Kaz dropped out of school to pursue powerlifting, doing virtually every ridiculously manly job he could find while doing so.  It's said that a man once immediately grew a full beard after accidentally brushing shoulders with Kaz in the gym, and that he was able to induce pregnancy and miscarriage in any woman within 100 yards of him simply by thrusting his hips in her general direction and giving her his most alluring, bug-eyed, psychotic, "I'm going to eat your babies" stare.

Cue "Big Pimpin'"

He obtained his unbelievable machismo and testosterone levels at least in part from the jobs he held after leaving football, as he worked as a Patrick Swayze-esque "cooler" in the roughest bars he could find, an oil rig roughneck, and a lumberjack, looking equally magnificent in a leather duster, whatever it is that roughnecks wear, and plaid and a bushy beard.  While working his way through his list of jobs guaranteed to put 100 lbs on your bench and an inch on your penis, Kaz set a world record in the raw bench press and completely dominated the superheavy weight class.  Bored with his dominance of a sport that consisted of three measly events, Kaz shifted his attention to the wild and woolly world of strongman, wherein he became the first man mountain to lift all five of the famed McGlashan stones (now known as the Atlas stones) in competition, the first man to press the Thomas Inch dumbbell overhead, the first man to win three World's Strongest Man competitions in a row, and the only person of whom I've ever heard who has had their physique compared favorably to that of a dinosaur and an elephant.  I'm not bullshitting you- in one Cambridge University text on animal physiology, Kaz's superhuman squat and bench press were used by a scientist to determine how large an animal could possibly get on our planet.

Kaz rounded out his storied strength career with a tryout with the green Bay Packers (a move later imitated with similar failure by the man with the worst tattoo in history, Brock Lesnar) and stints in the WCW, RINGS, and New Japan, wherein he was at his leanest and most intimidating.  Before moving his one-man circus to wrestling, however, Kaz compiled one hell of a record in strength sports:

Strongman Competitions

World's Strongest Man
1979-  3rd
1980- 1st
1981- 1st
1982-  1st
1988- 2nd
1989- 4th

World Muscle Power Championships
1985- 3rd
1988- 1st

World Strongman Challenge
1988- 3rd
1990- 2nd

Pure Strength
1987- 2nd
1988- 1st  w/Stuart Thompson
1989- 2nd w/O.D. Wilson
1990- 1st w/O.D. Wilson

Scottish Power Challenge
1984- 1st
1985- 1st
1986- 1st
1987- 1st
1988- 1st
1989- 1st

Strongbow Strongman
1980- 1st

Le Defi Mark Ten Challenge
1987- 1st
1990- 2nd

Powerlifting Competitions
  • Junior National Powerlifting Champion-275 Pound Class-(760-512-760-2033) (1978)
  • Senior National Powerlifting Champion-275 Pound Class-(782-534-804-2121) (1978)
  • World Powerlifting Champion-Superheavyweight-(865-622-804-2292 lbs) (1979)
  • World Record-Bench Press-Superheavyweight-622 lbs (1979)
  • World Record-Bench Press-Superheavyweight-634 lbs (1980)
  • World Record-Bench Press-Superheavyweight-639 lbs (1981)
  • World Record-Bench Press-Superheavyweight-661 lbs (1981)
  • World Record-Powerlifting Total-Superheavyweight-(926-661-837-2424 lbs) (1981)
  • World Record-Deadlift-Superheavyweight-887 lbs (1981)
  • Senior National Powerlifting Champion-Superheavyweight Class-(870-540-837-2248) (1982)
  • World Powerlifting Champion-Superheavyweight Class-(848-501-799-2149) (1983)
As if that wasn't enough, Kaz set some other random records and benchmarks worth noting for comparison with Jon Pall:
  • Louis Cyr Dumbbell Side Raise and Hold- (Louis Cyr-88 lbs in one hand and 97 lbs in the other); 89 lbs in one hand and 101 lbs in the other for 6 reps. 
  • Louis Cyr Dumbbell Front Raise and Hold- (Louis Cyr-131 lbs. for 1 rep.) 210 lbs x 6 reps.
  • Loglift- 375 lbs 
  • Dumbbell Press-100 lbs X 40 reps
  • Member of 10 Man Team that Pulled a 14 ton Tractor and Attached Caravan for 2 Miles
  • Barbell Curl- 440 lbs
  • Barbell Cheat Curl- 315 lbs x 15
  • Seated Barbell Press- 448 lbs X 3 
  • Deadlift (with straps)-904 lbs 
  • 56 lb. Weight Toss Over Bar (Scottish Highland Games)-Height: 18 feet and 3 inches 
  • 374 Clean and Jerk, 837 Deadlift, 120s x 17 Dumbbell Press in the Strongbow Superman Contest

Jon Pall was no slouch in the awesome department, either.  Growing up on an island near Iceland's largest fjord, Jon Pall apparently wandered the countryside lifting frozen rocks and sacrificing babies to the Norse gods.  By the time he was 15, Jon Pall started competing in Olympic weightlifting, as Europeans seem to think destroying their joins and masturbating with PVC pipe is an enjoyable way to pass the time.  He trained in glima from the age of five onward as well, as he put on at least one public exhibition of his skills in the sport during his strongman career.  For those of you who lack Wikipedia access, glima is a type of belt wrestling not dissimilar to that of the Mongolians and Tibetans, Schwingen, and a couple of other random styles scattered throughout the world, and glima is basically Iceland's national sport.  In any event, Jon Pall eventually tired of his wacky Eastern European trick lifting and joined the legions of beasts who were at that time setting a new world record in powerlifting every other hour.

After excelling in the sport and coming to the realization that a world record in powerlifting is little more important to the world at large than the release of a new model Daewoo automobile, Jon Pall decided to try his hand at strongman.  Unfortunately, Sigmarsson's breakout year occurred in concert with Kaz's shunning, so the two did not meet on a battlefield blessed by Brodin in 1983.  Like Kaz, Sigmarsson kept competing in powerlifting while a strongman, and set the Iceland and European world records in the bench, squat and deadlift in 1983.  In 1984, discontented with merely ruling two strength sports, Jon Pall oiled up, strapped on a banana hammock, and won the Icelandic bodybuilding championships.  Thereafter, he went back and shit all over his competition for a few years in strongman (becoming the first man to win four WSMs in a row) until his heart exploded while deadlifting- just as a Viking would want to go.

Jon Pall's competition resume reads much like Kaz's, which is part of what made their rivalry so awesome.

World's Strongest Man
1983 - 2nd
1984 - 1st
1985 - 2nd
1986 - 1st
1988 - 1st
1989 - 3rd
1990 - 1st

World Muscle Power Championship
1985 - 1st
1986 - 1st
1987 - 2nd
1988 - 3rd
1989 - 1st
1990 - 1st
1991 - 1st
1992 - 3rd

Europe's Strongest Man
1983 - 3rd
1985 - 1st
1986 - 1st
1987 - 3rd
1988 - 2nd
1989 - 3rd
1990 - 4th
1992 - 4th

Scottish Power Challenge
1989 - 1st

Le Defi Mark Ten Challenge
1985  - 3rd
1986 - 2nd
1987 - 5th

Pure Strength
1987 - 1st

Scandinavian Strongest Man
1982 - 1st

European Hercules
1991 - 2nd
1992 - 6th

Ultimate Challenge Competition 
1987 - 1st
1987 Japan Grand Prix - 2nd

Corby Great Eccleston (England) 
1989 - 1st

Iceland's Kraftur Contest 
1989 - 1st

Nissan Power Cup 
1990 - 1st

European Muscle Power Championship
1990 - 1st

Iceland's Strongest Man 
1985 - 1st
1990 - 1st
1991 - 1st
1992 - 1st

Finland's Strongest Man
1989 - 1st
1992 - 1st


IPF World Powerlifting Championships 
1981 - 3rd 125kg

EPF European Powerlifting Championships
1980 - 2nd 125kg
1981 - 2nd 125kg
1983 -1st 125kg

NPF Nordic Powerlifting Championships
1979 - 2nd +110kg
1980 - 1st +125kg
1981 - 1st +125kg

Olympic Weightlifting
1980 Icelandic Olympic weightlifting Championships - 1st

Highland Games
1986 Carmunnock Highland Games (Scotland) - 7th
1986 Commonwealth Highland Games (Scotland) - 1st

Also like Kaz, Jon Pall set some fairly impressive personal records worth noting for their upcoming comparison:
  • In competition (1980)- Snatch: 242 lbs, Clean and Jerk: 330 lbs at 272 lbs.
  • One arm deadlift- 506 lbs (without straps)
  • First man to load a 150kg Atlas stone
  • Pushed 3,000 lb wheelbarrow 3.06m

This is how the stage was set for these two titans of strength to meet in our Earthly Valhalla known as the World's Strongest Man.  Up next, Kaz talks some shit and Jon Pall metaphorically bitch slaps him in their first meeting, then they become friends even while screaming and foaming at the mouth, plus the workouts that made them the beasts they were.

Please the Facebook gods and like this shit on Facebook.  Apparently it means something if you do.
Bill Kazmaier.  American Strength Legends.  Web.  1 Apr 2013.  http://samson-power.com/ASL/kaz.html

Bill Kazmaier.  Wikipedia.  Web.  4 Apr 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Kazmaier

Freedman, Lisa.  Fittest Americans of All-Time.  Men's Fitness.  Web.  3 Apr 2013.  http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/fittest-americans-of-all-time?page=6

Holden, Ted.  Dinosaurs and the gravity problem.  The Anomalist.  Summer 1994.  Web.  11 Apr 2013.  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_dinosaurs01.htm

Henderson, Bill.  Jon Pall Sigmarsson.  Strongestman.billhenderson.org.  Web.  11 Apr 2013.  http://strongestman.billhenderson.org/bios/jonpall.html

Jon-Pall Sigmarsson Tribute Page.  Web. 11 Apr 2013.  http://home.earthlink.net/~jonpallsigmarsson/

Jón Páll Sigmarsson.  Wikipedia.  Web.  11 Apr 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3n_P%C3%A1ll_Sigmarsson


  1. Awesome and entertaining . I bet they eat new born babies for breakfast and fucked polar bears for fun !

  2. I donno if you have posted it or not but Kaz had a bitchinly insane workout too. If you wanna look at high volume over training check it out.

    1. Enough with the over training shit you bodybuilding.com forum pussy

  3. > Barbell Curl- 440 lbs

    Is that a typo?

    1. Nope- that's what my source said. He did hit 315 for 15, so it seems possible.

  4. This article made me rock hard.

  5. Another great article Jamie, well done!

  6. When are you going to try your hand at some more strongman?

  7. Not sure but thanks for asking.

  8. Is it accurte that Kaz is American, but you list him as being of German ethnicity, but you've got Pall as straight-up Icelandic as opposed to, I don't know, Danish or something? It may be appropriate, it just jumped out at me as odd.

    1. American's not really an ethnicity. I saw this a straight up Viking vs. German Barbarian, Deadliest Warrior style.

  9. World strongest man from the early eighties was always a three horse race with Capes Kaz & Jon pall. A great read. Cheers.

  10. Your reference: Holden, Ted. Dinosaurs and the gravity problem. The Anomalist. Summer 1994. Web. 11 Apr 2013. is a very weird bit of writing.

    While i know that the point of the reference had nothing to do with the main point that Ted Holden was trying to make, it does bring up the interesting question of just how does human strength compare to animals.

    Ted seems to claim that human=animals on a power to weight ratio, but every other reference I've read indicates that this is way out, with a Chimpanzee beating us by a factor of 5 or so, a gorilla by a factor of 10.

    Of course these are one-rep-max numbers. Humans are really more of an endurance athlete. At least compared to other apes.

    1. With the whole chimps-and-gorillas-are-stronger-than-humans thing, keep in mind that they are most often comparing dumpy sack-of-shit desk workers with animals that live in the wild. It's obvious which is going to be stronger before even considering species.

      Basically, muscles are muscles and they all work the same and have the same potential. The rest is determined by biomechanics.

    2. This whole "humans have lost their animal strength and you may as well give up and just watch the discovery channel" thing pisses me off SO MUCH. Cause it's BULLSHIT.



      Stop making fucking excuses and train to be the animal that you are deep down.

      Maybe YOU'RE more of an endurance athlete, or maybe your genetics just suck and you're slow-twitch.

    3. Bet you wouldn't have dared signed that to Nim Chimsky's face when he was alive.

    4. That's really fascinating results: Captive animals are much weaker than active animals and if a gorilla attacks you you should bite it.

    5. So animalrageyeahlookatme, did you even read the links you gave? According to your reference, Chimps ARE stronger than a human, and jump higher, and run faster. AND your reference also claims that humans show a genetic change that results in them being more of an endurance athlete.

      So what was your point?

    6. It definitely is a weird bit of writing, but as a fan of OOPARTS writing, I end up reading a lot of random shit. As for the endurance athlete bit, I couldn't disagree more- early hominids might have been endurance athletes, but everything from Cro-Magnon man onward couldn't be considered as such.

  11. The little guy in the picture is David Webster. He ran World Strongest Man for a number of years and is a strongman historian. He has written many books over the years about strongman and strength and has some world records of his own from back in the day that no-one has yet to best.

    1. Ah, cool. he looks fucking tiny between those two. My favorite all-time bit of WSM was Kaz spazzing at that dude.

    2. Kaz says "You made a big mistake, Webster!" I would take off in a mad sprint in the opposite direction if Kaz looked at me that way.

  12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oopAtA_Q8R4

    kaz and jón páll's performance at the 1988 WSM

  13. Reading about Kaz's injuries really got me thinking about how to properly recover from an injury. There is a lot of heresay and bullshit out there, but finding legit info seems hard to come by. I have had a shoulder injury bugging me for a couple of weeks and I am trying to lift through it after letting it rest for a week but man does it hurt and nag at me. Which in turn worries me that I am just making it worse. I hope in your next piece you cover how Kaz attempted to recover and work through his injuries, or maybe make a post about injury recovery methods. Thanks for the great research though.

    1. A good massage therapist can do wonders.
      Yeah, I thought it was bullshit too until I mentioned my shoulder injury to my wife's masseuse. Her eyes lit up with what I later realised was sadistic glee, and I then proceeded to have one of the more painful hours in my life. She was working my shoulder, and I got bruised shins from kicking the table so hard.
      A week later, the bruising was gone, and my shoulder was all healed.
      Now how to find a good massage therapist? Who knows? Look for someone who isn't afraid to hurt you would be my first step.

  14. Two subjective facts about Capes: He was a great all-round athlete but admitted he wasn't as strong as Kaz, even when he won.
    Outside of strongman he was, alledgedly, a bully and a coward.

  15. Geoff Capes was an elite international strength athlete, representing his country in the shot put for over a DECADE, dominating the Highland Games for seven years, and being crowned Europe's Strongest Man three times, and World's Strongest Man twice, kicking Sigmarsson's ass both times.

    The man had such incredible explosive power, he could throw a 16lb lump of lead over seventy fucking feet; he squatted over 800lbs, benched over 600 and did partial deads with over a 1000 pounds; despite his bulk, he was also a great all-round athlete, he was undoubtedly faster AND more explosive than men like Kazmaier. He achieved all this whilst being drug-free, something drug-dependent "lifters" like you couldn't understand, Jamie.

    And the respect you give him is zero...why, exactly?

    Remind me again--who the FUCK are you and what have you ever achieved, you big mouthed, undersized, roided up little prick?

    1. Someone has trouble with jokes and with the records list on Powerliftingwatch.

    2. You do realize you are doing the same exact thing to Jamie that you are complaining about with Capes-- questioning Jamie's accomplishments, calling him an "undersized, roided up little prick". You probably should just take a big breath and shut the fuck up.

    3. Well, if it's cool to joke about people by mercilessly mocking them, then you should have no problem with my mocking you, right? You and your shrivelled little balls.

      And as for you "poozles"--yeah, you are damn right I am questioning his accomplishments. They (like him) are miniscule compared to Capes' achievements.

      If he is gonna rip the shit out of more famous, more accomplished, more powerful and more respected athletes than himself, then he would have to be a hypocrytical retard (like you, apparently, "poozles") not to fucking well expect the same kind of treatment in return once in a while.

      And if you don't like it, you can suck my cock.

    4. Oh snap, you done pissed Capes off now! To be fair, all he really said is that you're fat and yea, you're fat as fuck. Calm down before you stroke out and keep fingerbanging that parrot.


  16. You...er...into voyeurism where bestiality is concerned, huh Grimm?

    It's fine. I suppose you just take after your mom.

    1. I feel kind of redundant at the moment...

  17. Capes! That is the worst mom joke ever! It feels so lost in time, kinda like knowledge that you even existed in the same space of time as Kaz or Sig. Honestly, I'd no clue who you were until today and the first picture I found was you holding birds in a shirt that you clearly received from your Arabian gay lover, Ackmed Hakeem Jones. Damn, knowing that barely anyone remembers you but Kaz and Sig get all the weight lifters to circle jerk must hurt as much as not being able to see your cock due to your stomach blocking the view.

    All jokes aside, if you're not Capes, why the fuck do you give a shit about what some asshole on the internet says? You are like the white guy who gets mad about "racism" towards his one black friend when the black guy doesn't give a fuck. You're white knighting it up for a guy who is too busy kissing a parrot's cock to give a damn.

  18. MY comment feels lost in time? You started yours with: "oh snap".

    ...who THE FUCK says "oh snap"?

    (I can only guess some kinda unemployed writer for Will & Grace...actually a serious possibility given your obsession with Capes' cock, his gay lover, and your interest in circle jerking.)

    And as for why I would give a fuck and react to what someone on the internet writes...you...you are aware of the irony in that comment, right dude?

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