Are Kieliszkowski and Licis the Future of Strongman?

You may have read about Dimitar Savatinov’s recent, incredible, world-record setting 315lbs dumbbell press. It certainly blew me away! The former Ringling Bros. Circus strongman has held and broken that dumbbell press record several times, but not without staving off fierce competition.

Savatinov’s 310lbs record (which he established over his own 308lbs record) was bested by a Polish strongman named Mateusz Kieliszkowski, who improved it to 312lbs. And though Kieliszkowski’s effort was perhaps less convincing (involving a much shorter hold), his age, being more than ten years younger than Savatinov, might make his performance more impressive.

Mateusz Kieliszkowski is 24-years-old and has no ceiling yet in sight for his potential. At twenty-two, he was the youngest strongman ever to compete in the Arnold Strongman Classic.

The two-time Poland’s Strongest Man competed in his first World’s Strongest Man in Botswana, 2016. His stock skyrocketed when he claimed his spot in the World’s Strongest Man Final and finished seventh overall in his first attempt.

Then only twenty-three years old, Kieliszkowski won an event in the Final, absolutely dominating the top strongmen in the Frame Carry.

At the recent 2017 edition of the same premier strongman contest, Kieliszkowski improved one position to sixth. He would not leave Botswana without besting every person in the world in an event once again. This time it was the Plane Pull, where he upset predicted winner Hafthor Bjornsson.

Considering Eddie Hall’s retirement, it seems likely that fans will find Mateusz Kieliszkowski in the Top-5 next year, where he’ll join another young strongman destined for greatness.

The 26-year-old two-time WSM Finalist Martins Licis is another top strongman who enhances his rank every year.

The American Licis (born in Latvia) debuted at the World’s Strongest Man the same year as Kieliszkowski, but finished one point ahead of his contemporary, in sixth. This year, he rooted himself into the Top-5 with a glorious fourth place result.

There, along with JF Caron and Zydrunas Savickas, Licis helped play spoiler to Brian Shaw’s chances of victory by repping his way to a four-way tie for second place in the Squat Lift. (Eddie Hall won the event clear and away.)

Whereas Dimitar Savatinov may have taken the limelight with his record-setting dumbbell press at Ultimate Strongman Summermania, it was Martins Licis who won the day, taking first place in the Deadlift, Atlas Stones, and overall. Mateusz Kieliszkowski was right behind him in second place.

It is true that many strongmen defy the limitations of age, as several top-level competitors find success after forty (most notably Zydrunas Savickas). Nevertheless, eyeing the future of the sport, younger strongmen with fewer injuries and battle scars hold an unarguable advantage.

Eddie Hall just won the World’s Strongest Man at 29-years-old. Hafthor Bjornsson, 28-years-old, earned second-place. Is it possible that 41-year-old Zydrunas Savickas has seen his last WSM podium? And can 35-year-old Brian Shaw maintain his place near the top much longer, against the odds, as Big Z before him?

Any answers are, of course, speculative. But it is entirely possible that the podium marquee at World’s Strongest Man will read “Bjornsson, Licis, Kieliszkowski” in 2018. Probably not quite so soon, but, perhaps, inevitably, one day in the not-so-distant future.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram