While strongman has come a long way over the past several decades, there are a few events that have fallen out of popularity. In this article, I argue for their re-introduction in competition.
In the old Fridge Carry event, an oversized refrigerator was loaded onto each strongman’s back prior to walking a set distance for time. A long, steel frame aided their balance and prevented injury in dire circumstances, should the strongman collapse during the race, as happened when Franco Columbu (of Pumping Iron fame) dislocated a bone in his leg mid-run in the 1977 World’s Strongest Man.
Though the apparatus was not primitive, and proved critical in such a circumstance as Columbu’s, it did attempt to simulate the position an individual moving man might utilize (with straps) to get a fridge up a flight of stairs.
Today, the Fridge Carry takes on the form of a modified Super Yoke. This serves two primary purposes. First, a single refrigerator is no longer enough weight to challenge a professional strongman. Child’s play! He needs two. Second, the Yoke format is a more stable, upright position for walking, which should decrease the odds of a devastating, Columbu-like error. (Columbu, himself, suggested his mistake was running when he should have been walking.)
Nevertheless, the Fridge Carry of old is a charming testament to human strength and ingenuity. It is an event most people can relate to – at least anyone who has moved into a new apartment without appliances, and especially if they rented a U-Haul instead of paying a team of professional movers.
How better to rally the interest of local fans than to include the Fridge Carry in your amateur strongman competition? Remember that hell of a time you had getting your refrigerator up that spiral staircase? Be mystified as awe inspiring strongmen power across one hundred yards with one on their backs! For strongmen not quite at the WSM/Arnold Sports level, a lighter load of one single refrigerator could be safe for demonstrating functional strength and entertaining fans.
It might be hard to believe that strongmen ever faced each other in Sumo combat, but in years past, it was a fan favorite. Today, it is the Tug of War that remains the quintessential one-on-one event in strongman. Then, it was the considerably more intense Sumo Wrestling match.
Understandably, modern strength athletes have a lot to lose in such an event. This era’s four-hundred pound giants can really tear each other apart. The force at which they can thrust one another to the ground could be concussive. There cannot be much appeal here for performers who earn their living by avoiding injury, and unless you placed Sumo Wrestling in the final slot of a tournament, it could derail the entire show.
All things considered, can you blame me for wanting to see Sumo Wrestling return to strongman? Sure, there is something silly about watching two men untrained in the art of Sumo compete in the same. Yet, these untrained men are of a very particular variety: the strongest humans on earth.
No shade thrown to the Atlas Stones, but it would be excellent to see Found Stones make their way back as a mainstay in professional strongman competition. So, what is a found stone? Well, it is the opposite of a cast stone, such as the perfectly round Atlas stone.
Found stones are nature’s Atlas stones, in a way. They have not been designed for men to carry. They are rather the result of erosion and pressure. This makes them harder to train for, without having access to the exact stone that will be used in competition.
The corresponding modern event for Found Stones is the Shield Carry. The athlete lifts a heavy, man-made shield and carries it across a set distance for time. These shields are often machined to make lifting more comfortable and do not feature the jagged edges of some found stones.
Image from Artur Andrzej, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
One famous example of a found stone is the 409lbs (186kg) Husafell Stone in Iceland. It is partly responsible for one of the most famous upsets in World’s Strongest Man history, when hometown favorite Magnus Ver Magnusson lost his grip, and with it, his first place prize in the 1992 WSM.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein 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: The World’s Strongest Man on YouTube