Terry Todd, the Unofficial Historian of Strength Sports, Dies at 80

Strength sports have suffered a great loss with the passing of Terry Todd, who passed away at 80 years old.

Todd was incomparably influential in the world of strength, helping to both legitimize and popularize strength sports as an athletic career, an academic discipline, and a focus of broadcast and written media.

His many accomplishments include creating the Arnold Strongman Classic, co-editing the hugely influential Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture, a 742-pound deadlift, and co-founding the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture of Sports with his wife Jan. The Stark Center contains over 150,000 pieces of media from the history of competitive lifting and BarBend has gratefully used its resources several times for articles on strength sports history.

Of all the public outpourings that have followed his passing, one of the most notable came from the Austrian Oak himself. Arnold Schwarzenegger shared two tweets on Sunday and even posted in the r/strongman subreddit.

I remember the first time I saw Terry Todd in Gold’s Gym after I moved here, lifting weights I couldn’t believe. He was such a monster – a true force, but also a kind heart and a great storyteller.

He used those powers to be a fantastic leader for the fitness crusade. He was the ambassador of strength, the historian of health, the advocate for iron. My thoughts are with his family, and my workout tomorrow is for him. I hope you’ll join me in dedicating your lifts to Terry.

It’s hard to compress a person’s life into an obituary and practically impossible for a man who has lived as rich a life as Terry Todd. Suffice to say that strength sports, in particular strongman and powerlifting, simply would not be where they are today without him. He will be missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife and loved ones.

Featured image via @bluecollar_strength on Instagram.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.