Kris Kross, peanut butter and jelly, SpongeBob and Patrick — the world loves duos, and in the sport of strongman, no duo is more beloved than the Stoltman brothers. Together, Luke and Tom Stoltman have won seven Scotland’s Strongest Man competitions (five for Luke, two for Tom), and have qualified for World’s Strongest Man eight times (with Tom placing second last year).
They’re pretty damn impressive in their own right, too.
Luke — the oldest Stoltman at 36 years old — currently holds the British Log Press records at 221 kilograms (487 pounds) and, despite a lackluster showing at the 2020 WSM, is able to hang right up there with the strongest on the planet. With 2021 well underway and WSM scheduled for June 2021, BarBend caught up with Luke to discuss his approach to the season, being a fan favorite, training with his “little” brother Tom (who is 26 years old), and starting his own Strongman contest.
Editor’s Note: The following interview has been lightly edited for readability.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: What You Need to Know About How to Increase Strength]
BarBend: Before we talk about 2021, let’s look back at 2020. You claimed the British Log Press record in the Feats of Strength series, but World’s Strongest Man didn’t go the way you hoped. What are your thoughts on how the year went?
LS: It was a mixed bag, to be honest. We had Giants Live, we had Britain’s Strongest Man. I got third place there. I really wanted that gold medal, though. I got the British Log Press record but came up short with the world record. As for World’s Strongest Man, I just underperformed there. I spent so much time going for that log press that I wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been. My body was in shutdown mode by the end of the year. I had pressed over 220 kilograms (485 pounds) over 10 times last year. That’s a lot on your body to take. Also, I wasn’t sure if WSM was going to happen last year. I was glad to be there, but I didn’t perform the way that I wanted to. But onwards and upwards, even with the pandemic, we got to compete at WSM at the end of the year, so that was cool.
BarBend: Looking ahead to 2021, is the Log Press record still in your sights, or will you shift focus to winning titles such as World’s Ultimate Strongman?
LS: We always said that records take a backseat to competitions. I certainly have my sights set on winning titles. So I definitely want to take the podium at events like World’s Ultimate Strongman, Giants Live, Europe’s Strongest Man. I actually think [ESM] is where I’m going to throw all my Log Press eggs in one basket if that makes sense. So even though I’m still event training, that is where I’m going to give that record the one good shot. Overall for me, it’s going to be the titles like World’s Strongest Man, World’s Ultimate Strongman, Europe’s Strongest Man, I’m chasing those titles this year.
BarBend: I’m sure the rescheduling of the Strength Island contest to March 13, 2021 is going to help. Specifically for WUS, talk about the impact they have had on the sport in such a short time.
LS: They made a difference in a hurry, which is good to see. Their events over the last couple of years have had the crème de la crème of the sport. It’s been awesome. I got into the sport because I’m addicted to competing, to get that adrenaline when competing. Having these big competitions in the Middle East, in Dubai, Bahrain, wherever else, it’s been awesome to show our strength to that audience. It’s really awesome for me because Marc Boyd [WUS co-owner and event organizer] is from Scotland. As a strongman from Scotland, it’s great to see him doing what he’s doing with the events.
[Related: The 6 Biggest Moments From the 2020 World’s Strongest Man]
BarBend: That audience has a lot of your fans in it. You and Tom (Stoltman) have a unique connection to your followers, and they’re certainly loyal to you. Talk about that connection and what it means for both of you.
LS: It means everything to me, man. We come from a small town in Scotland that maybe has 6,000 people. So when we go to these shows and we’re competing, there are normally more people than our town has. It’s incredible. It’s very humbling when I go out and people are cheering for us. The passion that fans have toward us as athletes is incredible. They’re cheering from the depths of their stomachs. You can see it in their faces. I saw it when I was watching Tom. That passion I have for watching Tom do well is what the fans have as well.
Without the fans, we’d be nothing. We’d be regular guys with normal jobs. I’d be working in oil rigs, and Tom would be in security. The fans and their passion are what make the sport what it is. We definitely still keep our feet on the ground, though. We don’t try to be prima donnas about it. I’m very thankful and humbled that people take the time of day to watch our YouTube or cheer us on.
BarBend: As a result of that, you’ve been able to start focusing on the business of strongman, sort of like Brian Shaw with all he has done away from competitions. Talk about that experience and going all-in on the Stoltman business.
LS: It has to be a passion, and it’s been a passion for 10 years now. You have to believe in yourself in order to turn that passion into a business, and you can’t settle. You have to have goals. Part of the reason we can do that is Brian, Eddie Hall, these guys are the blueprint to follow. They have taken the sport and turned it into merchandise, TV shows, etc. For me personally, I use that as inspiration. Look at Brian and the Shaw Classic. What a show! It was so inspiring, and as soon as I got home I told Tom “We have to do something to showcase the Highlands of Scotland by getting the top 12 guys here and doing a Stoltman Classic or Stoltman Strongman show.” For me, that’s giving back to the sport. I want to show off Scotland.
BarBend: Did you just confirm that we can expect a Stoltman Strongman show announcement in the future?
LS: Yeah. One hundred percent. I thought of this after talking to Brian [Shaw]. You know, here in Scotland we used to have the Highland Games here in our town, and I always enjoyed that. So if we were to have the Stoltman Games here, with the best strongmen in the world, then that would be great. What we do isn’t normal, so I want to showcase that and put up prize money as Brian did. If we could make another big event on the strongman calendar, I’d be very proud of that. Tom and I could get the guys over to compete and drink whiskey after.
BarBend: Speaking of Tom, he is in the sport because of you, and you have another brother (Harry) that is training with you as well. As the big brother and the example that they followed, do you feel pride knowing that Tom is doing as well as he is and that Harry is in the gym doing what you’re doing as well?
LS: As the eldest, I know I made my mistakes along the way, and I can guide the younger siblings away from those mistakes as a result. Certainly, with the training, we all go through the routines, and we try different things. So I have that experience that I can share with Tom to guide him as best as I could. That said, a monkey could teach Tom how to lift weights. He’s just got that raw ability.
To watch Tom on the world stage do as well as he does, people can see my tears every time. Like you also said, my younger brother Harry is also up and coming. [The Stoltman] name is about working hard and getting the rewards. That’s what it is for Harry and Tom both. Work hard and be the good person you should be. It’s very surreal to see your baby brother be one of the strongest men on the planet. [Tom] emerged from his childhood facing trauma from his autism and all. I wish we had footage of Tom when he was younger. We see him now, but you never thought that would be what he is to become seeing him in his younger teenage years. So it’s very emotional for me to see him do as well as he does now.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: What You Need to Know About How to Build Muscle]
BarBend: Is Tom aware of the difference and inspiration he has been for people that are on the spectrum? There are always comments and remarks on your posts and videos about how he is a positive influence on others.
LS: For sure, children look up at this big man that’s 6’8” and 185 kilograms (408 pounds), and they see that Tom was once on their level. Now he’s this behemoth and one of the most respected strength athletes in the world. That gives hope to us all. That’s what Tom is all about.
BarBend: So between you and Tom, over or under five years before we see a Stoltman as the top strongman in the sport?
LS: Oh, under for sure, 2021 even. For Tom last year, people think he has a bad grip, but it’s due to a left shoulder injury from a Fingal Fingers event in WSM a couple of years ago. There is some nerve damage with his left hand there. So what we’re doing is looking at that a lot more in-depth and addressing it. You saw with Farmer’s [Walk event], he was excellent. It’s certain events like the Hercules Hold that he struggles with, and it’s always with that left hand.
If that can be fixed by WSM, I mean no disrespect to the other athletes in the world because I am one of them, but Tom’s incredible in the Log Press, Farmer’s, other events. What he does with the Atlas Stones is unreal. We’re learning to invest in ourselves now which is also helpful. I know that is a long answer, but to finish this…less than five years for sure. I believe this year.
Featured Image: luke.stoltman on Instagram