[15.1, Sami] 

Hello everybody, let's take a look at where last year left us, and what has happened since. 

WSM '98 has already been televised about everywhere where they are going to, and generally it seems that the commentators have finally learned something about this sport. Like Manfred said, there are great expectations for this sport in the future. 

But last year also showed us, that something must be done for the safety of athletes. Competitors should be able test their limits as safely as possible, if it's possible. Winning competitions naturally means taking it to extreme limits. When Kiri and Philippi got injured in the WSM98 car rolling, TV captured many angry comments. Like just after Jouko and Kiri had finished, Jouko said partly to the cameras also: "It's totally ridiculous to do anything in this sand" and some other things about competition planning better left unsaid. Markku Suonenvirta pointed that there's nothing wrong in this sport, but there are things to fix. Some preparations had been overlooked. The events should be so planned, that in any case the huge masses won't crush competitors under them, Suonenvirta continued. 

After Kiri had to drop out, he told it takes frustratingly long to recover to even where one has been before. And told this makes him wonder, if it's all worth it. But then: "nothing has been done in vain, what has been done". 

More true "highligts" for Finns: 

Charlotte Brigel, WSM producer, after the fumble with Janne Virtanen, when asked if this is sport at all: "Sure it's sport" ... "And I mean I think in your country the guys are so strong, you could" (noise) "invite many more guys, but like in other sports you have to be fair to other countries as well and invite from every country .. competitors" 

Sorry I just had to write this; it must have gotten a great response in Finnish homes. Of course I understand it in a way, but things like this, boiling under the surface of this sport, shouldn't go on air. It's a bit different if I speculate something here on these pages. Or don't like what happened and make my biased point so clear, that some get excited (for more objective reasons). There should be CLEAR RULES if this is ever going to be a BIG sport.  

Like now, I hear that Manfred is not on good terms with IFSA anymore and organizes mostly competitions of his own. I don't know what is going on, maybe Chris you should ask Manfred himself? I mean some of the competitors have been told that if they participate in his competitions, they don't get to WSM99. Because I don't know more, I just want to wish him good luck - no really, he has done much good for strongman competitions! 

Note 1: Comparison Farmer's walk '95 vs '98, discussed this with Ahola 
'95: Varalahti, 90m, 2x115kg, 33,64s 
'98: Ahola, 80m, 2x122kg, 34,28s 

Note 2: Samuelsson's tire flip technique 
Svend got interested, tried it and liked it. Jouko instead thinks Riku's tech is best, and "he has the strength to do it" 

Note 3: Power stairs (weights were smaller than was intented originally) 
When the weights are set, they should remain the same. This is not a way to help more competitors finish, it's a way to mess everything up. Well, actually I find this funny: I mean at Helsinki GP 98 Jouko had his way with some of the weights used in events, now the organizers did agree with... ...  

Still, Jouko thought that the events were fine itself. This year, at Helsinki, sponsors will fully dictate what events and weights will be used.  

Ok, still one more quote from WSM98, then let's move on to Strongest Man Alive 98: 

Jouko after 147,5kg log press, which was enough to win: "It was pretty easy, I did it eyes closed."  
(Think what would happen if he tried it eyes OPEN!) 


Juha Tuhkasaari, who has also been invited to Helsinki GP 99 in March the 6th, didn't eat for days before the competition so that he could get his weight under 100kg. I hear it was close enough, maybe even some grams over? At the competition he already weighed 102, now it's  up to 107kg. He trains with Jouko again for the remaining time. 

I asked Jouko what did he think about organizations: Many plusses, but one minus: Maybe too many competitors, which meant that the competition days got to be quite long. The max (especially for audience) time should be 3 hours. 

And the weights were quite small, but he told it was understandable because it was no World's. 

IFSA Ranking: Is it true that Helsinki is not part of it? Why so? Anyway, Chris, I doubt they got the idea from these pages ;-) , but there's something odd about it: Does anyone even know what is the prize for winning the tour? Jouko at least didn't... 

Although I might admit with you Chris that somebody "stole" your Most Memorable Moments. Smiling here... 

Competitor info: 

Matti Uppa (did compete in Full Strength Challenge) is a good all-rounder with strong presses, stones and wheel barrow in Helsinki. 

Jorma Ojanaho got injured in Helsinki qualifications (held in Pori), is in tremendous shape but seems to have no luck at all. He did a 182,5kg log press some time ago (remember then, these records depend a lot of the diameter of the log!) Like Jouko says his record is 165, but I don't know if this tells the full truth. Also Svend has done about 180kg (he is VERY strong at least in seated front press - remember he has trained most of his presses incline). Dear reader, try lifting a log of 45cm diameter sometimes... instead of 30cm or just plain bar. You will know the difference. With some logs Andrei Chemerkin from Russia might repeat his weightlifting records (over 260kg) ;-) Do you still remember WSM97 qualification, Kiri's heat and one olympic weightlifter? 

Svend Karlsen  
"My training is going very well now, and I just started my own firm; Viking Power, is the name. And I have gotten myself a manager to take care of sponsor deal's etc."  

"So after my calculations it's going to be impossible to beat me next year. And if someone does, I just say that it's not possible. And then start crying. (just joking)"  

Before Helsinki, Svend might come early to train a little with Jouko. 

Riku Kiri, even though Ironmind had on news that Kiri will attend Helsinki GP, even Ilkka Kinnunen (main organizator, IFSA official) didn't know if he's coming or not. He surely is welcome. 


Less events than last year, more prize money. You should have seen some info on ASL and Ironmind already. 

As I now have a good camera (300mm zoom should be enough?), I plan to take a lot of photos there. I just wonder if I'm allowed to photograph: Someone had his camera taken away last year at the gate. Jouko said it should be ok, and if I want, Kinnunen will get me a permit to shoot even closer. Lessee now. Actually, for my productions aren't that commercial, I really have no need to get on the stage myself. Ha, just that in Helsinki I don't know all the guys at the gate, like I seem to know all bouncers in my home town: 

(I hardly ever go to nightclubs but the last time my friends got me there, they noticed that I know all the bouncers. And laughed that no-one will believe me if I say I don't go there often. Actually there was one guy I didn't recognice - but he actually looked kinda weak... ;-) The combination of martial arts and gym covers nearly them all.) 

Oh and the tickets for Helsinki aren't out yet.  


Tony "Viking" Halme ( see http://seg.com/ufc/ufc13bios/halme.html and http://www.ringwarriors.com/tony.htm ) has challenged Ahola, Tuhkasaari and Kiri in this event for 2000$. Halme is a professional boxer, fighter, wrestler (some years ago in US) and ex bodybuilder. Recently he has participated also in making of a talk show. His biography in book stores is titled: "God forgives, I don't." 
Halme was Finnish heavyweight champion in boxing for some while and actually brought show fighting to Finland himself. He lost the championship some months ago by technical knockout, which he thinks of course is no real knockout. He's a street fighter really, and shows an evil grin whenever seen at public place. Not a stupid guy, and could be a whole different person in private. 

He is determined to show that a boxer can also be strong and he "will beat the boys in their own sport". Remember Tuhkasaari also fought Halme in the ring last year, and lost.  

Halme will surely try to provocate strongmen. That's his show. And he's over 190cm and 130kg so there should be enough mass to compete. The question is, if it's all muscle. 

This challenge will surely bring extra spectators to the Arena, as Halme says it: Some hate me, some like me, but they all come to watch me. Some add "get beaten" to end of sentence... 

Viking press is an event which you might have seen on WSM qualifying last year. There's a pole, which is articulated from other end, and competitors lift the other end with ... say 9 beer barrels, totalling about 130kg. Time to rep: 1 minute. 

Jouko: "13 reps is good, 20 is great". Of course there's a little "war" going on: Jouko and Juha called Halme a "bunhand", who lacks strength endurance. Trust me, Halme will make up more insults soon. 

I see a one problem though: If I got it right, this Viking press will be done separate during the half time of the competition. So Ahola and guys do Viking press two times that evening... odd. Maybe they don't want Halme there for the final event. 

Note: Kiri is reported to do military presses with 140kg at Gold's Gym, Helsinki. Jouko doesn't train this lift much with bar, so he didn't say anything about his weights. Log press rec last year was 8x136kg (you could estimate military from this, add something), but Viking press is different than both of these. Actually Jouko has just begun building himself a Viking press now. 


When I called Jouko thursday evening, he was building a new entertainment center in Hämeenlinna and even participating at evenings in a floor renovation at his friend's house. So he has stayed a part time carpenter. Juha was with Jouko, his profession also has much to do with wood, but I don't know what's it in english (artesaanipuuseppä). Jouko thought that he might have been taxing himself too much lately, but nevertheless has gained some weight. At Helsinki his bodyweight will be 125kg.  

He's also moving to a new place to train. That takes a lot moving, but I guess these guys just carry the equipment to the new place. 

Jouko hasn't made much records lately (I'd say it's obvious if he's working that much), but said that 400kg deadlift came already quite fast last time. Next week he still works, then rest of the time before GP is used more or less just for training and eating. That's probably a must if he wants to do well? 

He had broken his mobile phone, so it was quite a rally before he answered. But it was an Ericsson you see... should have bought a Nokia ;-) And hey, Nokia Mobile Phones is NOT situated in Japan as most foreigners think. For some reason Nokia don't even want to correct it. Maybe Finland is too often associated just with snow, reindeers and forest industry? Actually we even have most computers per person. And drink most coffee.. and of course have most mobile phones. Already over 50% of population has a mobile phone.  

Zisha Breitbart might not have as strong jaws in the future movie as the stories tell ;-) Instead Jouko will punch some nails in with a metal plate in his hand. Or that is the plan and there will be other stunts. Last time the producer contacted him was around Christmas time, and if everything goes well, the shoots will start next sommer in Germany, Poland and Christmas Island. You can read more of Zisha from ASL as he did make quite a career in US later. 

Now, as I won't write much more today, just three things: 

1) For those who are always interested in Jouko's workout program, he tells that he trains now quite originally - actually just the plain program would not say much, and he can't help much that way: strongman training should be guided more personally in his opinion. Also he tells he won't intercept anyone's workout for advice, only if someone asks. "If someone has found his methods and feels it works, why should I interfere?" Actually he could have a nice career as a coach, think about Juha Tuhkasaari. I won't benefit much, sorry to say I can't give that much to the sport. 

2) Jouko: Magnus Samuelsson won't find his way out from Arena (was said in a friendly way though) 

3) Jouko's car, Audi A6, sponsored (partly?) by Autokuvio, has the following text written:  
Maailman Vahvin  (World's Strongest) 
Jouko Ahola 

He laughed it's quite ok, there aren't really that many Aholas.