On Thursday, June 13th, the 42nd installment of the Tachi Palace World’s Strongest Man competition will get underway live from Bradenton, Florida. The first three days will consist of qualifying rounds as the competition dwindles down from 20 strongmen competitors to the final handful of behemoths. Eventually, the surviving warriors of strength will battle it out in the Final Round on Sunday, June 16th, for the right to be called the “World’s Strongest Man.”
Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, better known as “The Mountain” from the mega-hit series Game of Thrones, will return to defend his crown. When Bjornsson wasn’t busy filming the final season of GOT, he was winning the 2018 World’s Strongest Man competition. Joining The Mountain on the podium was Mateusz Kieliszkowski and four-time winner Brian Shaw. Both men will return for this year’s competition and challenge Bjornsson for the title.
World’s Strongest Man betting sites have released a variety of prop bets for this competition. Let’s take a look at these strongman prop bets, competition odds, and examine whether or not Bjornsson can stay on top of the strongman mountain.
Previous World’s Strongest Man Winners
The World’s Strongest Man competition first began in 1977 and featured some of the strongest men from weightlifting, bodybuilding, and other sports. It became a hit with fans and was a niche attraction for CBS. Legendary American powerlifter Bruce Wilhelm went on to win the first two events. It wouldn’t take long before Bill Kazmaier, a weightlifter and pro wrestler, would go on to dethrone Wilhelm and win three straight WSM competitions.
Since then, European powerlifters dominated the competition before Americans could return to the top with Brian Shaw who won four WSM competitions, which is tied for second all-time along with three other competitors. The great Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski holds the all-time record with five victories. The following is a list of the previous WSM winners dating back to 2000:
- Janne Virtanen in 2000
- Svend Karlsen in 2001
- Mariusz Pudzianowski in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008
- Vasyl Virastyuk in 2004
- Phil Pfister in 2006
- Zydrunas Savickas in 2009, 2019, 2012, 2014
- Brian Shaw in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016
- Eddie Hall in 2017
- Hafthor Julius Bjornsson in 2018
Of these previous winners, only Bjornsson and Shaw will be competing in the 2019 World’s Strongest Man competition. Savickas will not be in this competition, which marks the first time since 2008 that the four-time winner won’t be competing.
2019 World’s Strongest Man Competition Events
The following events of strength are reportedly set for this year’s strongman competition:
Qualifying Rounds Events
- Event 1: Monster Truck Pull
- Event 2: Super Yoke & Farmer’s Walk Medley
- Event 3: Deadlift (Reps)
- Event 4: Overhead Press (Reps)
- Event 5: Last Man Standing
Final Round Events
- Event 1: Loading Race
- Event 2: Deadlift Hold
- Event 3: Overhead Press Medley
- Event 4: Squat Lift (Reps)
- Event 5: Atlas Stones
The 2019 WSM Competitors
According to BarBend, the following strongmen are set to compete in the 2019 WSM competition:
- Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (Iceland)
- Raffael Gordzielik (Germany)
- Rob Kearney (USA)
- Zake Muluzi (Great Britain)
- Luke Stoltman (Great Britain)
- Adam Bishop (Great Britain)
- Sigfus Fossdal (Iceland)
- Konstantine Janashia (Georgia)
- Robert Oberst (USA)
- Andreas Stahlberg (Sweden)
- Martins Licis (USA)
- Mikhail Shivlyakov (Russia)
- Aivars Smaukstelis (Latvia)
- Tom Stoltman (Great Britain)
- Eddie Williams (Australia)
- Jean-François Caron (Canada)
- Kevin Faires (USA)
- Mateusz Kieliszkowski (Poland)
- Ole Martin Kristiansen (Norway)
- Laurence Shahlaei (Great Britain)
- Mark Felix (Great Britain)
- Trey Mitchell (USA)
- Oleksii Novikov (Ukraine)
- Jimmy Paquet (Canada)
- Brian Shaw (USA)
2019 World’s Strongest Man Prop Bets
The following World’s Strongest Man betting odds and prop bets are courtesy of Bovada:
Will The Mountain Deadlift More Than 474 kg at the World’s Strongest Man?
- Yes (+228)
- No (-300)
For those who aren’t sure how much 474 kilograms is, that’s 1,045 pounds. In other words, that’s about the same amount of weight as a grand piano.
Hafthor Julius Bjornsson is clearly a powerhouse among men. With that said, in traditional powerlifting competitions, The Mountain has a personal best deadlift record of 410 kilograms or 904 pounds. However, this year at the 2019 Arnold Strongman Classic, Bjornsson set an in-competition world record for the deadlift at 474 kilograms or 1,045 pounds. For those that like to be technical, The Mountain did use wrist straps and an elephant bar for this accomplishment.
Nevertheless, there’s a great chance that Bjornsson comes into the 2019 WSM and surpasses the weight. At this year’s Arnold Classic, where he set his personal best and world record, The Mountain went on to attempt 500 kilograms or 1,102 pounds. As he was nearing the full upright movement, his foot slipped and he lost grip of the bar.
If that weren’t enough to convince you that The Mountain is coming to smash 474 kg, then take a look at his current training regimen. Bjornsson looks impressive as he’s throwing around weight that defies human anatomy and gravity. In a video clip posted to his Instagram page, Bjornsson is seen easily deadlifting 365 kg for two reps. That’s throwing around 805 pounds as if he’s picking up a full-grown horse.
For this bet, I believe as long as The Mountain doesn’t get injured, he’s going to beat the 474 kg mark.
Will Any Contestant Break the 500 kg Deadlift Record?
- Yes (+345)
- No (-590)
On July 9th, 2016, strongman competitor Eddie Hall set the world record for the heaviest deadlift at 500 kilograms or 1,102 pounds. Hall shattered the previous mark of 463 kg while competing in the World Deadlift Championships held in Leeds, UK, that year. Following his impressive display of human strength, Hall would go on to win the 2017 World’s Strongest Man competition after finishing third in 2016.
This deadlift record still stands and has become a benchmark that the elite strongmen are trying to surpass. Of course, Bovada has a WSM prop bet that asks the question of whether or not a competitor in the 2019 WSM competition can break this record.
As we saw in the video above, Bjornsson came close to tying the mark at the Arnold Strongman Classic this March. However, it still looked rather challenging for even The Mountain to finish the upright movement. Because his foot slipped and he lost grip, we can’t be sure if he would’ve tied the record or not.
As for the record holder, Eddie Hall has gone on a dramatic transformation to lose weight and compete in lower divisions. He’s no longer in the behemoth category and will not be in this year’s WSM competition.
For those trying to wrap their heads around how much 500 kilograms or 1,102 pounds is, it’s about the equivalent of a full-grown, adult male polar bear or grizzly bear. It’s also above a half-ton.
With the amount of events that these superhuman competitors have to participate in over four days, I don’t see this record being broken. However, I do believe there’s a good chance that someone will attempt to tie the record and deadlift 500 kg.
Who Will Win the 2019 World’s Strongest Man Competition
As of this writing, there aren’t any available betting odds for the strongmen participating in the 2019 WSM competition. All we have is the following prop bet via Bovada.
Will The Mountain (Hafthor Julius Bjornsson) Win the Competition?
- Yes (-110)
- No (-130)
Before I answer this bet, it’s a good idea to take a look at who I think will be the top competitors to dethroning The Mountain:
Top 5 Competitors to Dethrone Bjornsson
Keep in mind that all five of these men and Bjornsson will have to qualify for the Final Round.
As mentioned above, Brian Shaw is a four-time WSM champion having last won back-to-back competitions in 2015 and 2016. Shaw is tied for second with the most podium finishes at nine. That’s one less than the record holder Zydrunas Savickas who, as previously mentioned, won’t be in this competition.
Shaw’s four WSM wins are tied for second all-time. If he can win this year’s competition, then he will tie Mariusz Pudzianowski for the most wins with five. Brian currently holds the record for the most WSM Finals with 10. He can extend his record to 11 if he qualifies for the Final Round this week.
Shaw is the first man to have ever won the Arnold Strongman Classic and the World’s Strongest Man competition in the same calendar year. He would do that in 2011 and then again in 2015. Shaw has won the Arnold Strongman Classic three times and also has four runner-ups. Unfortunately, this year, Shaw finished eighth.
It appears that he’s not at his peak form, which does give me some pause for concern in the WSM competition. Apparently, Shaw hasn’t been 100% healthy and isn’t supposed to be for this event either. With that said, I would take a 90% Shaw over most of the field.
Shaw has many notable personal bests and even a few world records. One of his most impressive feats of strength is a world record Atlas Stone lift of 250 kilograms or 560 pounds.
As long as he’s not hampered by a nagging injury or illness, I expect Shaw to make it to his 11th straight WSM Finals.
Carrying on the proud Polish strongman tradition is the 25-year-old Mateusz Kieliszkowski who finished runner up last year in the 2018 WSM competition behind Bjornsson. Kieliszkowski is quickly climbing up the strongman ranks and looks like a legitimate threat to The Mountain this week. Like Licis, Mateusz is the future of strongman competition. Typically, it’s not until a competitor’s late 20s to early 30s that he becomes the best of his sport. Well, Kieliszkowski might not have to wait until then to become the top dog in this strength game.
Mateusz Kieliszkowsi finished second in Europe’s Strongest Man competition and he was also third at the top American strength competition, the Arnold Strongman Classic. It was the second time in his career that he finished on the podium for this event. Mateusz just recently competed in the Arnold Strongman Africa event last month and finished second there as well. His string of podium finishes in 2019 have many believing that the Polish powerhouse can give Bjornsson a run for his money.
Kieliszkowsi is the reigning Strongest Man of Poland for four straight years. His record-setting 410-pound stone to stone shoulder lift still has people talking about it. With his impressive feats of strength, and at only 25 years old, this international strongman is going to be a threat to win any competition he enters. But can he dethrone the champ at the WSM this week?
Like his Polish counterpart, the American strongmen Martins Licis has been unofficially dubbed the “future of strongman.” He lived up to that nickname by finishing second at the Arnold Strongman Classic this year, just 4.5 points behind The Mountain who won the competition for the second straight year.
Nicknamed “The Dragon,” Licis will make his fourth WSM appearance this year after finishing fourth in 2018 and 2017. He was sixth in his first appearance back in 2016.
Last month, Licis put the strongman world on notice when he set a world record in the Steinborn squat. If you are wondering what that is, check out Licis’ IG video below to see. It truly is a remarkable lift and one that novices shouldn’t try.
Licis appears to be moving in the right direction, and that’s towards the top of the strongman rankings. I believe this American powerhouse will be the future of the strongman sport in the United States. But will he be able to carry the torch passed on by Brian Shaw once the four-time WSM winner decides to step away from competition? Better yet, will Licis be able to crack his first podium this week at the WSM?
At 22 years old, Novikov certainly has a bright future in the world of strongman competitions. He has come on strong in his first real calendar year of professional competitions. Novikov has already bested some of the sport’s top athletes by winning the Arnold Strongman South America and the Arnold Africa Strongman competitions. Those are two of the bigger events worldwide. However, he only finished seventh in his first ever Arnold Strongman Classic this spring.
Nevertheless, Novikov is a legit threat to Bjornsson’s throne if The Mountain doesn’t bring his A-game. With that said, he put up 926 pounds on the deadlift in Africa last month and also crushed the Atlas Stones for Reps event. He beat out Kieliszkowski and Shivlyakov at this event. He also beat out these two men and Rauno Heinla at the Arnold South America contest.
Despite being the youngest of the field, he comes in with a lot of confidence knowing that he can hang with the veterans and top contenders. But, can he really upset The Mountain at the WSM this week?
Here’s a strongman that I would definitely not want to mess with. Shivlyakov isn’t only a beast when it comes to strength, but he was also in the Russian Special Forces. This will be his fifth appearance in the World’s Strongest Man competition: 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. His best finish was eighth in 2015.
With that said, Shivlyakov continues to hang with the top contenders each and every event. He was sixth in South America, fourth in Australia, and he finished fourth in Africa. His best showing this year was fourth at the Arnold Strongman Classic where he finished behind Bjornsson, Licis, and Kieliszkowski. I would say Shivlyakov is the dark horse of this group of challengers. However, he will need a few lucky breaks to win this competition. And no, I’m not referring to the Columbu and Jones breaks from past tournaments.
A Quick Look at “The Mountain” Hafthor Bjornsson
With the most likely competitors to The Mountain listed above, let’s take a look at Bjornsson the strongman competitor and marvel at his remarkable feats of strength.
As mentioned, Bjornsson came in first place this year at the Arnold Strongman Classic. It was his second straight ASC victory. He also won the Europe’s Strongest Man competition this year for the third straight time and fifth time overall. We also can’t overlook his victory in the 2018 World’s Ultimate Strongman competition titled “Beasts in the Middle East” from Dubai last October. But his biggest accomplishment was finally winning the World’s Strongest Man competition last year after finishing second in 2016 and 2017.
For Bjornsson, he has finished on the podium seven consecutive years. Only his first appearance in the WSM, back in 2011, saw The Mountain finish outside of the podium when he ended in sixth place. The seven podium finishes is good for third all-time, tied with Sigmarsson and Pudzianowski.
Iceland’s eight-time Strongest Man is the betting favorite to win the 2019 WSM competition, and rightfully so. He’s been dominating the scene for the last calendar year. In fact, he’s the first strongman to win the three most prominent competitions in the same calendar year (2018): Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe’s Strongest Man, and the World’s Strongest Man.
The Mountain is poised to accomplish this feat again as he’s already claimed two of the three contests heading into the WSM this week.
I’d be remiss not to talk briefly about Bjornsson playing the role of Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane on Game of Thrones. Although the role appeared in Seasons 1 and 2 of the series, it wasn’t until the producers casted Bjornsson for Season 4 that the character had more of a noteworthy presence in the show. He would go on to appear in the final five seasons with an epic fight scene against his brother Sandor “The Hound” Clegane played by Rory McCann. You can see this graphic and gruesome fight scene in the battle below.
Will Bjornsson Repeat as WSM Champ?
Now that we’ve sized up the competition, it’s time to decide whether or not The Mountain will remain sitting on his WSM throne.
In the history of this prestigious competition, there have been eight times that a strongman has won consecutive titles. Of those eight, all of them went on to become legends of the sport. Most recently, Brian Shaw accomplished consecutive victories in 2015 and 2016.
I believe the reign of Bjornsson is going to continue for at least a few more years. He’s at the top of his game, and the top of the sport right now. Bjornsson is setting personal records at a time where the competition is having a hard time defeating him. He’s already won the Arnold Strongman Classic and the Europe’s Strongest Man competition this year, which are two of the three biggest events. If he wins this year’s WSM event, that will be a calendar sweep of the biggest competitions for the second straight year. This is an accomplishment that has never happened before.
The Mountain has a tremendous balance of stamina, power, and strength that is unmatched by any of his rivals in the sport. Brian Shaw isn’t going to be 100% by all accounts and Eddie Hall is not in this year’s competition. Mateusz Kieliszkowski, Martins Licis, and Oleksii Novikov are guys to watch out for, but they’re still a few years away from dethroning The Mountain. In the case of Novikov, he’s still in his early 20s, but should reign supreme in a few years.
For me, this bet is an easy “Yes.” Bjornsson is the best strongman in this competition and it’s his tournament to lose.
Final Thoughts on the 2019 WSM Competition
I’m excited for this competition. I’ve seen just about every WSM competition since watching the reruns of the early years back in the 1990s. I’ve always marveled at these feats of strength and enjoyed seeing superhuman performances. With that said, I believe this competition is going to be dominated by The Mountain. With the other veterans not putting up much of a threat, I don’t see the younger competitors being able to step up and defeat Bjornsson. I actually see The Mountain having a nice run at multiple WSM titles and possibly becoming another five-time winner if he can continue this pace. Keep an eye out for additional WSM prop bets and competition betting odds this week. Online betting sites might release more betting options as the event draws near.
My Top 5 Memories from the World’s Strongest Man Competition
As a longtime fan of this competition, I’ve seen the majority of these contests from airing live on TV to watching the classic reruns on ESPN and later on YouTube. There have been so many mind-boggling feats of strength that it’s hard to pick just a few of them for any Top 5 list. With that said, here are my five most memorable moments:
1977 – Lou Ferrigno uses his “Hulk strength” to bend the bar and win the event. This was also the competition where fellow bodybuilder Franco Columbu broke his leg in an event where the competitors raced with a refrigerator on their back. It was a disgusting and unfortunate occurrence for Columbu who was in the Top 5 in the competition prior to the injury on national television.
1982 – To this very day, you can’t think of the World’s Strongest Man competition without thinking of one of the greatest strongmen of all-time, Bill Kazmaier. One of my favorite memories was watching this beast go strongman sumo on his opponent.
1995 – Magnus Samuelsson takes on former pro wrestler and actor Nathan Jones in an arm wrestling match that turned gruesome quickly. Jones was a massive figure compared to Samuelsson, but it was Magnus who had all of the experience and success as a professional arm wrestler. Jones couldn’t budge Samuelsson’s arm and once Magnus ended up making his move to pin Jones’ arm, he ended up breaking Nathan’s arm. It was a brutal sight that reminded me of Columbu’s leg injury.
2008 – Mariusz Pudzianowski winning his record-breaking fifth WSM title was historic. The Polish strongman looked like something chiseled from granite by the powerlifting gods. He came on the scene after one of the greatest strongmen of all-time Magnus Ver Magnusson rode off into the sunset. Mariusz would go on to win five titles in seven years while finishing runner up in the two competitions that he didn’t win.
2018 – Last year’s competition sticks out to me as a memorable moment due to The Mountain finally winning the competition after six straight podium finishes and two straight runner-ups. As mentioned above, it also signaled the first time that anyone has ever won the three top strongman competitions in a calendar year. However, that wasn’t the only noteworthy accomplishment in the 2018 competition. Not only did Bjornsson finally defeat Brian Shaw for the title, a feat that took seven years to accomplish, but Shaw would finish on the podium for the 10th straight year. That’s four wins, one runner-up, and five third-place finishes in a 10-year span. I put that accomplishment right behind Mariusz’s five wins in seven years.