Bill Kazmiaer, or “Kaz” as he is affectionately known, is a three-time World’s Strongest Man winner, twice IPF World Powerlifting Champion, former all-time world record holder and bona fide strength legend. David Webster OBE, one of the founding fathers of WSM, described him as “the greatest American strength athlete of all time.”
Kazmaier was born in Burlington, Wisconsin in 1953. Holding school records in shot put and 100m sprinting, he was, unsurprisingly, a star footballer, playing at fullback for the university of Wisconsin-Madison, but eventually redirected his incredible force of will to the pursuit of strength.
Powerlifting success came at a meteoric rate for Bill; junior powerlifting titles in 1979 turned to senior IPF world titles at +110kg and +125Kg in 1983. In 1981 he established a 1100Kg total that would stand unsurpassed for over a decade and in the same contest, he became the first man to bench press 300Kg, in just his t-shirt.
During this period Kaz turned his laser-like stare on the newly founded World’s Strongest Man contest, placing 3rd in 1979, but serving notice to his competitors that their time was well and truly up. What better platform for Kazmaier to showcase his ferocious drive, mind-boggling power and unnerving personality?
Terrifying pre-lift routines were contrasted with softly spoken interviews that hinted at the depth of Bill’s self-confidence as he swept all before him. The longer-format finals were completely controlled by Kazmaier; in 1981 he won 6 of the 10 events and defeated Lars Hedland by 28 points.
A question Kazmaier himself has often posed is: “who is the only strongman greater that Kaz in ’80?” The answer is, of course “Kaz in ’81 and ’82!”. After winning three successive world titles, the contest’s organisers, wanting to expand the contest and give it a more international flavour, froze Kazmaier out of WSM for the next 5 years.
Returning to the fold in the late 80’s, Bill lost out narrowly to Jon Pall Sigmarsson, who had assumed his crown in his absence, before bowing out of the sport for good following his 4th place finish in 1989. What could have been for one of only 2 men to have ever won the title 3 times consecutively, is anyone’s guess? In the intervening years he won a bevy of titles, such as Pure Strength, Scottish Power Challenge and the World Muscle Power Challenge.
Bill claimed the sport’s most prestigious title, World’s Strongest Man, three times in a row in 1980, in Vernon, New Jersey and in 1981 and 1982 in Magic Mountain, California.
Personal Best Lifts
Competition Lifts – Strongman
Competition Lifts – Powerlifting
Following his retirement from strongman, Kazmaier wrestled with the WCW, making numerous challenges to Lex Luger’s heavyweight world title. Gym ownership, business interests and motivational speaking thrived before Kaz found a new home behind the microphone, calling the action for World’s Strongest Man as a presenter and emcee with Giants Live.
Bill continues in his role as emcee for Giants Live’s arena shows and entertains fans watching at home, on television and live at the arenas with his post-lift interviews and inspirational and insightful commentary. Kaz is arguably as well-known by current strongman fans as he was in his athletic prime.
Kazmaier was part of the ESPN commentary team for the World’s Strongest Man broadcasts for several years. He has also worked with Giants Live for close to a decade, appearing as a co-presenter and interviewer on the televised World’s Strongest Man Qualifying Tour shows, currently shown on Channel 5 and available to watch live through live streaming.