Martins Licis is a Latvian born, American raised, professional strongman who in 2019 won the World’s Strongest Man title. He is currently one of the most dominant athletes competing in the world and is renowned for his exuberant nature, incredible consistency and all-round strength and power.
Born in Riga, Latvia, Martins moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, at the age of 4. His grandfather was an ex-Olympic weightlifter and introduced Licis to stone lifting during summers spent on the family farm in Latvia.
Known as “The Dragon”, Licis’ trained under legendary strength athlete, Odd Haugen, in California after moving there in 2010. Under Haugen’s tutelage, Licis has become a strongman with few weaknesses and a man who could potentially go on to win many more titles.
During the early part of his career, Licis competed in both strongman and Mas wrestling – a variation of stick wrestling – as well as strongman. His first contest win came at the Odd Haugen All-American Strength Classic in 2015 and the following year he won the MAS Wrestling Open World Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
The same year Martins made his debut at World’s Strongest Man where he placed an impressive 6th in the final. Two fourth place finishes in 2017 and 2018, were then followed by victory in Bradenton, Florida, in 2019, just 4 years after his debut.
Martins is one of very few athletes who have dual nationality and have represented more than one nation competitively; Licis’ first professional contest win came in 2017 at the Ultimate Strongman Summermania, in which he competed under the Latvian flag.
In 2020 Licis was struck by a car whilst cycling, leading to a succession of injury issues which robbed him of the opportunity to exploit the dominance he was beginning to enjoy. However, in 2022 Licis seems to have regained much of his former strength and has claimed victories at the 2021 Rogue Invitational, as well as the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic.
Martins established a world record for the Steinborn squat – a squat lift where the barbell is lifted onto the shoulders from a vertical position – of 257kg/567lb, in 2019. He is also the current record holder for the Thor’s Hammer event, in which he showed remarkable grip strength in lifting a 300lb metal hammer with a vertical shaft, from the floor, single handed.
In 2019 Martins won the World’s Strongest Man title in Bradenton, Florida, beating Poland’s Mateusz Kieliszkowski and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson by a massive 8 and 9 points margin respectively. In claiming victory, Martins demonstrated his all-round ability and tremendous consistency; he was never out of the top 3 in any event of the final and claimed wins in the squat lift for repetitions and the Atlas stones.
Thanks in part to stem cell therapy received in Colombia, Martins seems to have put his injury woes behind him and is currently the favourite to reclaim the 2022 World’s Strongest Man title, following recent wins at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic and the 2021 Rogue Invitational.
The 2022 World’s Strongest Man contest could potentially involve an enthralling head-to-head showdown with defending champion, Tom Stoltman, of Scotland.
Injury has kept the likeable Licis away from television screens over the last two years, but he should feature prominently in Channel 5’s World’s Strongest Man coverage during the Christmas period.
Martins has made appearances on several US television shows, including Game On! – a US comedy-based game show, and To Tell the Truth, in which he was one of a trio of guests posing as the World’s Strongest Man.
Licis’ social media presence includes his Instagram account: @martinslicis which has 359k followers. Both his YouTube and Facebook accounts are named Martins Licis and have 200k subscribers and 80k followers each.