Notable Strongmen Who Declined Their 2022 World’s Strongest Man Invitations

Some declined their invites, some can't travel, and others were just outside the top 30 who will compete in Sacramento, CA.

The full roster for the 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) was officially completed when the 30th man — Nedžmin Ambešković — confirmed his invite. The roster includes four men who have previously won the WSM contest — Brian Shaw, Oleksii Novikov, Martins Licis, and reigning champion Tom Stoltman. Additionally, Mateusz Kieliszkowski, who has multiple runner-up finishes at the WSM, will return to strongman‘s grandest stage on May 24-29, 2022, in Sacramento, CA.

While the 30-man WSM roster is stacked, many notable strongmen are not on the roster, including some who declined their invitations for various reasons. Check out the video below from 2016 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) Laurence Shahlaei’s YouTube channel, wherein Shahlaei and his wife, Liz, detail which strongmen will not compete at the 2022 WSM competition and why:

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Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou

The first athlete Big Loz notes is not competing at the 2022 WSM contest is Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou. Sanou did qualify for the 2022 WSM contest for his bronze medal finish at the 2021 Giants Live Strongman Classic behind the winner, 2020 WSM Novikov, and runner-up Evan Singleton. Per Shahlaei, Sanou did receive his invite but declined the opportunity to compete in Sacramento.


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Sanou’s absence from the 2022 WSM field is likely a relief for other athletes in the line-up who excel in overhead events like the Log Lift. Sanou holds the current world records in the Log Lift and the Axle Press and could potentially further them in 2022 as he is confirmed for the 2022 World Log Lift Challenge as part of the 2022 ESM contest on April 2, 2022.

Graham Hicks

Graham Hicks withdrew from the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man contest due to a groin injury. It is unclear if he would have fully recovered in time for the 2022 WSM rolled around. Although he earned his invite to the 2022 WSM contest via a bronze-medal finish at the 2021 ESM contest, he declined his invite due to his vaccination status. Hicks is not currently vaccinated against COVID-19 and, therefore, is not allowed to travel from the UK to the US.

I’m not pro-vaccine, I’m not anti-vaccine, I just don’t feel like I want a vaccine for something I’ve already had.

According to the CDC, travelers “must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States by plane if you are a non-U.S. citizen, non-U.S. immigrant.” Hicks shared a video on his YouTube channel with an explanation. Check it out below:

[Related: 2022 World’s Strongest Man Contest To Feature First-Ever Fan Festival]

Žydrūnas Savickas

The four-time WSM champion Žydrūnas Savickas will not compete at the 2022 WSM contest. While Savickas hasn’t competed at the WSM competition since 2018, where he finished 10th overall, he still competes in premier strongman events. The 46-year-old competed in the 2021 Shaw Classic, though he withdrew midway through that contest due to injury, and won the 2020 Lithuania’s Strongest Man competition. It’s not clear if Savickas will ever return to the grandest strongman stage again, though he has a lifetime invitation as a former WSM winner.

JF Caron

The 2022 Força Bruta champion JF Caron will not be able to compete at the 2022 WSM contest as he is recovering from tearing both his quads and injuring his ankle during the Log Lift event at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. In an interview with Shahlaei, Caron suggested that his career at the elite level of competitive strongman is over. Caron’s recovery is expected to take approximately a year, and he has already lost 60 pounds of body weight since receiving surgery.

2022 World’s Strongest Man

Below is the official 2022 WSM roster:

Groupings for the qualifying stage have not yet been announced but have an expected release several weeks before the contest kicks off on May 24, 2022. Likewise, the events for the 2022 WSM contest have yet to be revealed. We’ll see if Licis can continue his winning streak from the 2021 Rogue Invitational and the 2022 ASC to a second world title, or if Tom Stoltman can defend as reigning champion, or if Brian Shaw can become the second man ever to achieve a fifth WSM title to tie Mariusz Pudzianowski, or if another strongman on the roster will continue the current five-year streak of new WSM champions.

Featured image: @ironbiby on Instagram