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What Superstars hold weightlifting records?
WWE Superstars always have to keep themselves at the pinnacle of human perfection. That definition may vary for each competitor, but strength and resilience are two essential qualities for a successful WWE career. Throughout sports-entertainment history, some of the most physically imposing and superhumanly strong individuals have stepped foot inside the squared circle.
However, there is an elite group of Superstars that actually hold world records and have won various competitions because of their herculean strength. WWE Classics examines seven of these individuals and how their backgrounds gave them an edge inside the ring. ( PHOTOS | WATCH VIDEO PLAYLIST)
Check out the list and leave a comment below or on Facebook.com/WWEClassics.
Before Mark Henry claimed the title of “The World’s Strongest Man,” the moniker belonged to former WWE Superstar Ted Arcidi. On March 3, 1985, a few months before his WWE debut, the monstrous Arcidi became the first person to bench press 700 pounds in an official weightlifting competition. In fact, the behemoth pressed 705 pounds, setting an unprecedented world record.
Arcidi briefly competed in WWE — including the famous WrestleMania 2 Battle Royal. Using his herculean strength to his advantage, the Boston strongman utilized a bear hug to squeeze the air out of his opponents. Following his tenure in WWE, Arcidi competed in Stampede Wrestling and WCCW before returning to the powerlifting circuit.
“Athletic” is one of the simplest words that can be used to describe former Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera. A track and field standout in high school, specializing in shot put, Patera failed to qualify for the 1968 Olympic Games and turned his focus to Olympic weightlifting. The Portland, Ore., native quickly became a world-renowned lifter, winning numerous medals at the Pan-American Games in 1971 and qualifying for the 1972 Olympic Games.
After his unsuccessful medal bid at the Munich Olympics, Patera shifted his focus to sports-entertainment. First competing in AWA in 1973, the weightlifting champion was reviled among fans throughout the 1970s and 1980s as he flaunted his strength against rivals like Tony Atlas. Though he remained an active competitor over the course of two decades, he also competed in the inaugural Strongman Competition in 1977. Placing third in the event, the former WWE Superstar proved that he was undoubtedly one of the world’s most powerful men.
Currently “The World’s Strongest Man,” former World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry’s career as a powerlifter is well-documented. Henry’s accomplishments before becoming a WWE Superstar are astounding, and he holds a number of weightlifting records on the national and world stage. A competitor in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games, Henry was named captain of the 1996 weightlifting team, but an injury forced him to place 14th in competition.
Despite his Olympic setbacks, the mighty Texan currently holds three records with the World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF), including squat, deadlift and total — all three were accomplished in 1995, the year he won the WDFPF World Championship. In addition, Henry has won the U.S. National Junior and Senior Championships, USA Weightlifting American Open Championship, U.S. Olympic Festival Championships, the North America, Central America, Caribbean Islands Championships and multiple Pan American Games medals. Clearly, The World’s Strongest Man isn’t just a nickname.
Alongside fellow WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas made history when he became one-half of the first-ever African-American WWE Tag Team Champions. The WWE Hall of Famer’s wrestling career spanned across three decades in WWE, WCW, AWA, WCCW and NWA. Before embarking on his tenure in sports-entertainment, however, Tony Atlas established himself as a true strongman.
Atlas competed in various bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions while actively competing. Among his accomplishments are: 1982 New York Powerlifting Champion, 1984 New England Powerlifting Champion and 1987 National Powerlifting Champion. Perhaps most impressive is the WWE Hall of Famer’s three “Mr. USA” titles, a prominent distinction in national bodybuilding.
Rob Van Dam
Former WWE Champion Rob Van Dam is generally known for his flexibility and high-flying abilities inside the squared circle. What is not as widely known about Mr. Monday Night is that he possesses a great deal of physical strength and follows a strict training regimen. Most impressively, though, is that Van Dam is the innovator and record holder of the “Van Dam Lift.”
The technique involves doing a split between two surfaces and curling a dumbbell. The exercise is recognized by the All-Around Weightlifting Association and RVD is the only individual to ever successfully perform the routine.
Bill Kazmaier was one of the first names suggested by WWE Classics for this list. Kazmaier’s stature and his strength were far above the normal threshold for an average human being. An active competitor in Stampede Wrestling as well as WCW, Kazmaier often incorporated his weightlifting background into interviews and contests that displayed his raw power.
The Wisconsin-native’s accomplishments on the Strongman and weightlifting circuits are a testament to his power and physicality. Kazmaier was named the “World’s Strongest Man” by winning the Strongman competition three consecutive times. He won the Scottish Power Challenge six years in a row and claimed multiple U.S. Powerlifting championships as well. Stepping inside the squared circle with the herculean Kazmaier wasn’t always a wise decision, especially when the massive competitor displayed his strength by bending a rebar over his neck with ease.
The longest reigning WWE Champion in history, Bruno Sammartino is also one of the strongest Superstars of all time. The native of Abruzzi, Italy, had the resilience to hold the WWE Title for nearly 3,000 days and he knew that physical strength was an important element to being a successful WWE Superstar.
Before he became one of the most successful performers Madison Square Garden had ever seen, Sammartino had a passion for weight training. His dedication earned him a spot on the 1956 Olympic team, but it was his feat in 1959 that brought the future WWE Champion national prominence. While competing in bodybuilding competitions, the Italian Superstar set a bench press world record at 565 pounds. With his impressive physical stature, it’s no wonder Sammartino is regarded as the most powerful WWE Champion of all time.