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Bill Kazmaier
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Bill Kazmaier pictures

Bill Kazmaier audio

General Info

As David Webster originally noted in his book Sons of Samson, Bill Kazmaier, unlike most powerlifters, was a competition lifter. What I mean by this is that his personal best lifts are not in the gym but have occurred in competition with other athletes. This is because he really liked competing, not against others (though he knew they were always there) he liked competing against himself. He strove to be the strongest man in all of history. He was not satisfied with just powerlifting. He traveled all around the world to try other legendary feats of strength to prove that he was the strongest in all of history. He was noted to wear a t-shirt that said, "There can be only one." He believed there could be only one World's Strongest Man in history and he was it.

Secret to Kaz's Success

The secret to his success is his great powers of concentration and his raw will. He would concentrate very hard throughout the entire competition trying not to be distracted. He worried about himself not the others. He trained hard. He ate a lot. In one year (1978-9), he put on fifty pounds. Amazing not only because of the quantity but also because a large amount of it was muscle. He also was obsessed with the sound of bag pipes. In between lifts, he would put on his headphones and listen to the bag pipes play and concentrate on the task at hand. Hence, he has formed his motto: Conceive, Believe and Achieve! Now, Mr. Kazmaier is a devote Christian and believes in the power of Christ.

Listen to what Bill had to say about the bag pipes
This sound is copyright Gampian Television and the Pure Strength Co.

Copyright IronMind Inc. and David Webster reprinted with permission. This picture is from the Sons of Samsons book written by David Webster and is available through IronMind Inc.

The Strongbow Contest

The 1980 Strongbow Contest was a strongman contest that was held in England. It consisted of a clean and jerk, deadlift (both of these events are performed to a one rep maximum weight) and as many shoulder press repetitions as possible with a pair of 121 pound dumbbells. He won the contest with a 374 pound Clean and Jerk, 837 pound Deadlift and 17 repetitions with a pair of 121 pound Dumbell Press. Lars Hedlund of Sweden came in second. American Ernie Hacket came in third with a 369 pound clean and jerk, a 700 pound deadlift and ten reps with the dumbbells.

Versus Don Reinhoudt

In 1981 in Columbus, GA, Kaz entered the world's spotlight when he beat the legendary Don Reinhoudt by five pounds with a 2425 total. Up to that time, Don had the record total of 2420 pounds and had never been defeated.

Challenge with Jon Pall

In 1987, Bill Kazmaier challenged Jon Pall Sigmarsson to an impromptu competition between events at the Ultimate Challenge strongman competition. Bill started the challenge lift of a 22 pound sledge-hammer from a horizontal position on the floor by kneeling down and placing his hand on the very end of this regulation-sized sledgehammer. He then pivoted the hammer upright so that the hammer was now perfectly perpendicular to the ground while his hand remained stationary on the floor. This is a very hard task. Try it with the heaviest normal hammer in your house. Now imagine doing it with a 22 pound weight on the hammer end attached by a 31 inch handle. Jon Pall was able to duplicate the feat. They gladly would have continued the challenge adding more and more weight until only one remained, but there was no way to add weight to the hammer head. They also ran out of time.

Earlshall Competition

Among others, Hjalti Arnason and Bill were competing at this competition. In a wrestling final, the two met. Arnason from Iceland was a superb bouncer at some of that country's hard-core night clubs. He was a real tough character. Fearless and very strong. A lot of honor was a stake at this final. Both of the men were undefeated in wrestling up to that point in time. The conditions of this match were simple: best of three falls wins. Arnason "the Bull" lived up to his nickname and recorded the first fall by "bulling" Bill out of the circle. Bill was shocked and answered back with pure furry. He recorded the second fall. Imagine, if you will, this situation, the two of them great strongmen, who had never lost a wrestling match ever and the next fall determined who would keep his honor in tack, as well as his unbeaten streak. Bill and Arnason struggled in the next match for awhile. Bill, using a variation of a suplex or a lateral drop, won the fall. Feeling very happy, Bill jumped back on to his feet and punched the air in triumph. Unknown to Bill because he had turned his back to the massive Icelander, Arnason charged him at full speed leaping on Bill's back to continue the match. They fought for a long time. It took the remainder of the contestants to pull the two apart. Arnason later offered a explanation for the continued hostilities to David Webster, the event's organizer. He said, "Only a little bit of fun, Dave." The Icelander meant it. Scrapping was his idea of fun.

1990 Finland's Strongest Man Contest

Every year, Finland like many European countries holds a strongman contest. In 1990 the 46 year old Ilkka Nummisto won the competition despite the best efforts of his fellow Fins and captured the coveted title. However, the competition's overall winner was Bill Kazmaier who was invited to compete as a guest strongman.

The Thomas Inch Dumbell Explained

Thomas Inch was a famous British strongman around the turn of the century. He was 5 foot ten and a half inches tall. He weighed 210 pounds. Like many strongmen during the golden age of strongman shows, Thomas Inch was very adept at cleaning thick handled-dumbbells with one hand. His famous challenge weight was called the Thomas Inch Dumbell. It was about two and a half inches thick around the handle and weighed 173 pounds. He would use this Dumbell to challenge the audience members to lift his weight and clean it. None could, not even Thomas Inch. He could only deadlift it. Well, no one could until Bill Kazmaier. The actual Thomas Inch Dumbell was in a museum, but Bruce White of Perth Australia made a replica of it. Kaz flew down to Australia and on October 13, 1990, he cleaned and pressed it. No problem. According to Gary Mitchell, he became only the fifth man ever to lift it to the knees. Kaz told me it is like driving a golf ball 1000 yards. To place this in further perspective, for the entire week prior to this historic event Kaz had been touring Australia demolishing all sorts of overhead pressing records including the log press world record..

This is a picture of him pressing the Thomas Inch Dumbell with One Hand.
Copyright DynaKaz Inc.

Stones of Dee

The first time he ever visited Scotland was at Royal Deeside in the Highlands. At Royal Deeside, there are several manhood stones. Legend has it that in order for a Scottish lad to enter adulthood, he had to lift a stone weighing 268 pounds onto a wall or platform. At Inver, David Webster, introduced Kaz to the clach cuid fir or manhood stone. Kaz lifted it the first time with ease. He didn't want to put it on a wall, so he just fully locked out his legs. He was asked to repeat it a second time so that pictures could be taken. Not satisfied with how simple this test of manhood was, he cleaned the stone to his upper chest, then to everyone's surprise he pressed it overhead and fully locked out his arms. He told me that he knew that he could do it, so he simply did it.

Breamar Gathering

This was Kaz's first exposure to the legendary Scottish Highland Games. This particular gathering is the most prestigious gathering and the royal family attends. The crowds are really large too. He entered the Heavy Events Competition. It was his first time he had ever seen the various apparti. So, the caber proved difficult. However, he discovered that he had a natural skill for the 56 pound weight toss for height event. For the longest time the Breamar Record stood at 15 feet. Kaz breezed past this. He also beat the existing world record of 16 feet and one inch that was held by Grant Anderson. Eventually in the Ultimate Challenge, he would re-set the world record. During the heavy events the haunting melodies of the bagpipes plays. This is where he first developed his love for the bagpipes.

The World Gold-Fish Eating Championship

In David Webster's book, Sons of Samson II Kaz recalls a story about this competition. Before he was the World's Strongest Man and a famous strength athlete, he entered this cash prize contest. The live goldfish were swimming in large bowls in front of each of the competitors. On the start signal, he and the other competitors began. His competition would catch a fish one at a time and swallow it. Not Kaz. He would take the bowl and drink the water with the fish in it. He ate an all-time record 1000 fish which was four times his nearest competitor. He was awarded the cash prize and also received a tank of goldfish. What did he do with them? Let's just say they didn't die of old age.

Lagos Highland Games

In 1981, Doug Edmunds, the former owner of the International Federation of Strength Athletes, became restless in his retirement and decided to arrange this Highland Games. It was there, in Africa, that Kaz re-set his own world record in the deadlift. Doug was not prepared for the attempt. The only bar he could find was a bent one-inch plain (no grip) bar without sleeves on the ends. The weights themselves were really bad. They were thin and homemade which made them wobbly when placed on the bar. As 4,500 people watched him, he broke the existing world record that he had set at 886 pounds. With handstraps which were necessary because of the horrible bar, he officially lifted 890 pounds but the discs totaled 914 pounds. Some of the weight had been subtracted due to the situation with the homemade weight discs. He also set the 56 pound weight toss for height record there.

Airth Games

He broke the record for the 56 pound weight toss for height here too. He won himself a car doing so.

56 Pound Weight

He was able to hold a 56 pound weight for 30 seconds with his arm perfectly parallel to the floor using only his pinky.

The McGlashen Stones

Bill was the first man to lift all five of the McGlashen stones in competition and place them on their proper barrels.

Here Bill is lifting the #5 McGlashen Stone on to the pillar.
Copyright IronMind Inc. and David Webster reprinted with permission. This picture is from the Sons of Samsons book written by David Webster and is available through IronMind Inc.

The Crunch Bunch

This odd convention of the world's strongest men happened in Glasgow in 1988 when the Crunch Bunch took on the Glasgow Diamonds playing American-style football. The Diamonds figured that the strongmen where too big and slow. To their surprise, the strongmen were not. The Crunch Bunch did bend the rules but not all of them were familiar with the rules of football because they came from all over Europe. Mr. Universe Basil Francis burned the corner backs all day long on offense, including a 50 yard touchdown. Hjalti Arnason converted the two points to put them in the lead. Mark Higgins who was six foot nine inches tall intercepted many passes. Ab Wolders just plugged up the holes on defense, making the Diamonds running backs bounce off him. Once when Bill Kazmaier was tackled by a much smaller opponent, Kaz picked him up overhead and bodyslammed him again and again. On offense, Kaz routinely crashed threw the Diamond's line like it was a paper bag. Jaime Reeves picked up the Diamond's fullback and ran with him and the ball all the way to the end zone for a Crunch Bunch touchdown.

The crunch bunch (top to bottom, left to right): Peter Tregloan, Jamie Reeves, Mark Higgins, Tjalling van den Bosch, Jon Pall Sigmarsson, Ab Wolders; and Iain Murray, Bill Kazmaier, Hjalti Arnason, Basil Francis, Tom Hawk
Copyright IronMind Inc. and David Webster reprinted with permission. This picture is from the Sons of Samsons book written by David Webster and is available through IronMind Inc.


In Milo! A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes it was reported that in general, he avoids speculation and comparisons between himself and others but when he is pressed for more information, he answers.
He believes that had he lived in a cooler area of the country, he could have yanked his weight up to 370 pounds. He thinks that he might have been able to squat the 1050 pounds without a squat suit.
At the 1983 IPF World Powerlifting Championships, he had two key injuries. Earlier that year, he had injured his pec and anterior deltoid while bending a cold-rolled steel bar in the World's Strongest Man Competition. Second, before the IPF Championship, he tore his hip flexors in the squat. Had this not happened, he stated that he would have been able to add another 50 pounds on his squat. In the bench, he had tripled 633 pounds in the gym. He thought he could have pressed 700 pounds at the IPF Championship. At the championships, he almost made an 887 pound deadlift. He stated that he would have made the lift successfully had the bar not been bent. At this championship, he felt that he could have totaled 2525 pounds.
He felt that if he had specialized in the Dumbell press, he could clean and press a pair of 200 pound dumbbells. He also wanted to try to clean and press the famous Apollon railraod wheels. So, he was practicing with a two inch thick bar with a similar amount of weight and cleaned and pressed it for 5 reps.

An Exciting Announcement

Today, he weighs 310 pounds and still lifts, though not for records any more. He has stated that this year he is going to return to Scotland and compete in the Highland Games and show his son around.

Copyright 1998 IronMind Inc. and Randall J. Strossen, PhD. This picture is reprinted with permission from Milo! A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes