Some people like kayaking. Some opt for doing cartwheels. Others enjoy badminton or throwing javelins. Then, of course, there are those select few who prefer to get their adrenaline endorphins from picking up things and immediately putting them down. Enter the few, the fair, the elite, the Icelandic strongmen.
Eskimo or Viking?
It’s well known worldwide that Icelandic people are notoriously strong and full of protein powder. Haven’t you heard of that little character The Mountain on that tiny TV show ‘Game Of Thrones’? This hunky reputation comes from the spectacular mitochondrion of two legends, Jón Páll Sigmarsson and Magnús Ver Magnússon, both of whom won the World’s Strongest Man four times each.
Jón Páll is a legend in the Icelandic consciousness on the same level as Arnold Schwarzenegger—without the politics or ‘Kindergarten Cop’. The blonde bombshell burst onto the international strongmen scene in 1983 where he won silver in the competition before finally being named the World’s Strongest Man in 1984 and repeating this carnage in 1986, 1988 and 1990. Jón made the sport popular in Iceland, regularly appearing on TV and in public events with his bulging pecs present. For many old Icelanders, including our editor Valur, he was a childhood icon.
Jón Páll’s iconic presence comes from his Bill Clinton-levels of charisma. He’s best known for a witty response at a heckler who called him an Eskimo. “I’m not an Eskimo! I’m a Viking!” he screamed before lifting a 500 kg carriage. If you’re confused, don’t be, that was a common misunderstanding in those days. For the record, Icelanders did not live in igloos, they lived in huts made of dirt.
Magnús Ver Magnússon continued Iceland’s legendary status at the competition, flexing his gold medal in 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996. This secured Iceland’s status as the second-best country in the world for strongmen with eight gold medals, which placed them just behind the United States who has eleven. That said, Lance Armstrong is from the US, so who can really trust their sports tactics?
Update: After the time of this writing, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson won the Strongest Man In The World. But he has been in the shadow of allegations of domestic violence and we don’t fuck with that.