Swiss Archeologist Squats Sheep for 104 Reps, Becomes First Foreign Champion in 1,000 Years

The tradition of competitive sheep squatting comes from a remote Russian republic.

As first reported by The Daily Mail, for the first time in 1,000 years, a foreigner has won a sheep squatting contest in the remote Russian republic of Tuva. The ancient tradition features contestants squatting for maximum repetitions with an animal held across their back. (Think of it like a back squat, but with sheep.)

And you can check out some of his reps below.

Dr. Gino Caspari, a 32 year-old Swiss archaeologist, won this year’s contest after squatting a sheep for 104 reps; the animal weighed approximately 50 kilograms. The contest — which has divisions for both men and women — is held annually at the region’s Naadym festival alongside other traditional sports, including archery and wrestling. Tuva lies within Russia just north of the Mongolian border.

Caspari posted a video of some of his reps (he estimates squats 99 through 102) to Instagram, which you can check out below. I’ll be honest, at first we were a little unclear regarding the contest’s squat standards. After all, the rules of weightlifting and powerlifting seem to change at least a little bit every few years. But what about a contest that’s been occurring for a millennia?

  • Were they measuring the hip crease relative to the knee?
  • Where were judges placed for optimal viewing?
  • Was there a white light/red light system for every squat?

Or was there a completely different, centuries-old judging system, the likes of which I’d never seen before?

Honestly, it those questions don’t seem to matter all that much. After watching Caspari’s video, it’d be tough to question the legitimacy of his squats by ANY standard. He’s hitting full depth and doing a great job of reaching full extension at the top. We don’t have video of any other contestants attempting the feat, but make no mistake: Dr. Caspari’s reps would get passed by just about any powerlifting ref.

Caspari’s prize for winning the contest? A certificate marking the accomplishment AND the actual sheep used in competition.

For now, Caspari will return to his normal (but admittedly very, very cool) job of conducting excavations and archaeological research in the region, but I’d say he has a promising future in strength sports if he so chooses.

And if you’re ever thinking of training for next year’s festival, may we suggest starting with some 20-rep squats?

Featured image: @ginocaspari on Instagram

David Tao

David Tao

BarBend’s Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting. David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of Greatist.com.

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