Strongman Gavin “The Bull” Bilton is Wales’s Strongest Man, and a two-time World’s Strongest Man competitor. At 6’6’’ (1.98m) and a peak weight of 474lb (215kg), he is the heaviest ever World’s Strongest Man competitor and well-deserving of his nickname.
Hailing from Caerphilly in South Wales, Bilton was a former infantryman, serving in the Welsh Guards for 13 years, including two operational tours of Afghanistan. Since leaving the army, Gavin has set up his own gym in Caerphilly, called Area 51.
Gavin has often stated that he believes he will win the World’s Strongest Man title one day and emulate his fellow countryman, Gary Taylor, the former Olympic weightlifting silver medallist, who won the title back in 1993, in Orange, France.
Bilton is a former professional rugby player who has played at several top clubs, including London Irish, Newport and Swansea. Playing at second row, Gavin was unusually strong for a rugby player, even at a slender (by comparison!) playing weight of 120kg/264lb. After 3 years in the Welsh Premiership, Gavin began to focus on gaining weight and strength and soon entered, and won, his first strongman contest.
The Bull took a couple of years to emerge from the shadow of fellow Welshman Ben Brunning, from Bala, who beat Bilton to the Welsh title in 2018 and 2019. Once domestic competition restarted in 2020, following the covid lockdown, Bilton had begun to compete internationally, finishing 8th at the 2020 Europe’s Strongest Man, and qualifying for his first World’s Strongest Man final after capturing the UK crown.
During a highly strenuous, closely packed run of contests in 2021, Gavin suffered some heart issues as a result of him using excessive amounts of caffeine to combat fatigue and prepare for contests. During the enforced medical break Gavin completed numerous, thorough medical examinations before being given the all-clear to compete. The break came at a time when The Bull was building momentum, following his second appearance at World’s Strongest Man, in 2021, and his Welsh record of 425kg/937lb in the deadlift. Bilton returned to competition at the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man contest in Leeds, where he placed 11th.
The Bull has twice captured the Wales’s Strongest Man title, as well as the UK’s Strongest Man crown. Internationally, his best result came at the 2021 Giants Live World Open and World Deadlift Championships, in Manchester. Gavin placed a creditable 6th place and managed to claim the Welsh record in deadlift with a superb lift of 425kg/937lb. It was a lift that was overshadowed by a bevy of men completing 1,000lb/453.5kg lifts, but was nonetheless an incredible lift and an astonishingly heavy weight.
The Bull’s biggest and most immediate goal is to reach the World’s Strongest Man final, ideally in 2022, in Sacramento. Now that his forced break from the sport has ended Gavin will be looking to push hard and regain the upward trajectory his strongman career was on throughout 2020 and 2021.
In 2022, Gavin has set himself the target of extending his Welsh deadlift record beyond the magical 1,000lb (453.5kg) barrier, when the Giants Live Open and the World Deadlift Championships make their debut in Wales, in Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, in August.
Gavin has become a fan favourite and is well known on the strongman scene from his appearances at World’s Strongest Man and the Giants Live WSM Arena Tour events, all of which are aired over the festive period on Channel 5, in the UK.
Gavin has recently guested on the Giants Live Strongman podcast, where he discussed his ambitions in strongman and his fascinating background with hosts Radzi Chinyanganya, Colin Bryce and Darren Sadler.
Bilton’s social media presence is a growing one and he can be located on Facebook under the name Gavin “The Bull” Bilton. Similarly, on Instagram, he can be found under @gavin_the_bull_bilton, where he has some 36.6k followers.