Spectacular Line-up for London Sell-Out! | Strongman Classic 2023 PREVIEW
Giants ROAR into London with Strongman Classic Sell-out!
Giants ROAR into London with Strongman Classic Sell-out!
Giants Live have announced an expected sell-out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall for this year’s Strongman Classic on July 8th. With less than two months to go before curtain up there are fewer than 100 tickets remaining for what is known as the “Jewel in the Crown” of the World’s Strongest Man Arena Tour.
And given the stacked line-up of competitors, featuring no less than three World’s Strongest Man winners, the incredible quality of the athletes on show will surely do justice to what is one of the world’s most iconic venues.
Recently crowned World’s Strongest Man, Mitchell Hooper, two-time champion Tom Stoltman, and the two-time Strongman Classic champion and 2020 World’s Strongest Man, Oleksii Novikov, will be vying for victory amongst a start-list that must rank as one of Giants Live’s best ever.
Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou – the man who broke the Axle Press world record in the inaugural contest in 2021 – and a host of World’s Strongest Man finalists, including Evan T-rex” Singleton, Luke Stoltman, and Pavlo Kordiyaka, the current Europe’s Strongest Man, will also be in attendance, mustering every muscle fibre and sinew to take victory in London.
It was at this contest last year that Mitchell Hooper made his Giants Live debut following an explosive performance at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man. Signalling his arrival amongst the sport’s top tier of athletes, he consolidated his performance in Sacramento by taking the runner-up spot in London behind runaway winner Oleksii Novikov. Just one year later and the Canadian ex-golfer, known as The Moose, is the World’s Strongest Man and will be looking to add the Strongman Classic title to his rapidly expanding list of achievements.
After the tremendous success of the first Strongman Classic, held in 2021, Giants Live will be returning to the Albert Hall for the third successive year. So far, only Ukraine’s Oleksii Novikov has tasted victory in this event, but this time around he won’t be coming in as the favourite. Following his 4.5-point win over defending World’s Strongest Man Tom Stoltman, Mitchell Hooper will be the man to beat.
Having won the 2022 World Tour Finals in Glasgow, Hooper added the prestigious Arnold Strongman Classic to his resume before sweeping aside the opposition in South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach, venue of the 2023 World’s Strongest Man. And with an event schedule that kicks off with the Nicol Stones – two granite boulders weighing 138kg and 114kg that must be carried for distance – and a Super Yoke, it’s hard to imagine Mitch being off the pace early on. Only Kevin Faires’ Nicol Stone world record bested Hooper’s effort last year in Glasgow and he has been utterly dominant in Super Yoke since he came onto the scene.
Following the Yoke will be Deadlift for Reps, an event he reigned supreme in at World’s, followed by Viking Press and the Castle Stones to finish. It’s a list of disciplines that marks a significant departure from last year, which saw Novikov take victory in the first three events on his way to a massive 12-point overall win.
Coming into contests as the favourite is something Hooper will have to become accustomed to, just as Tom Stoltman will be eager to reverse his fortunes from World’s. The Albatross’s last Giants Live appearance came at the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man contest, with the Scot looking supremely dominant. He missed last year’s Strongman Classic and was 5th in 2021 after making errors in the Frame Carry and struggling in the Hercules Hold. If he’s to turn the tables on Hooper in London he’ll need a mistake-free performance, especially against a man who has already become renowned for his meticulous preparation and tactical savvy.
Tom’s older brother Luke will be the only other United Kingdom athlete competing at the Albert Hall – that most British of venues. The 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man winner placed 8th at World’s last month, having formerly taken 7th on three occasions. No other brothers have ever competed at the World’s Strongest Man final; a feat the Stoltmans have now accomplished on four occasions. His last Giants Live appearance came at the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man, where he took second behind Novikov. He finished 6th at the Strongman Classic in 2021.
Three Ukrainians will be on show in London, and what a trio they make! Defending champion Oleksii Novikov recently placed third at World’s for the second year in a row and will be joined by Pavlo Kordiyaka, the current Europe’s Strongest Man. Pavlo took the title in Leeds back in early April and then backed up his surprise victory with a 6th place result at World’s Strongest Man, after winning his heat.
Making up Team Ukraine will be Pavlo Nakonechnyy, the 2022 Strongman Open winner. Pavlo last turned out for a Giants Live contest in October ‘22 for the World Tour Finals, where he came 4th. Since then, he withdrew from both Europe’s Strongest Man and World’s Strongest Man with a knee injury sustained at the Arnold Strongman Classic ’23. Prior to that he had taken 5th at the Rogue Invitational.
Iron Biby has not completed a full contest since he came close to winning this event in 2021. Focusing initially on breaking Eddie Hall’s Axle Press world record – a feat he accomplished in dramatic fashion having failed twice to lift the 217kg (478lb) bar – the Burkinabe then pulled off a shock win in the Hercules Hold, which he held for 74.36 seconds. He had a 2-point lead going into the final event but chose discretion over valour and opted not to lift the Castle Stones and risk further aggravating a shoulder injury.
Biby is a favourite with the Giants Live crowds and always receives massive support wherever he goes. He has gained much attention as a result of his prodigious static strength, particularly overhead, However the big man has shown he can also move at speed when he needs to and many feel that he is yet to live up to his full potential in complete shows.
Evan Singleton, who was recently 5th at World’s Strongest Man, breaking his injury and ill health-related run of bad form, returns to the Albert Hall having placed 2nd in 2021 and 3rd last year. The T-rex has tasted victory at Giants Live before, having won the 2021 Arnold UK and World Open. Joining him from across the water will be 2022 Official Strongman Games Open Champion Spenser Remick. Spenser performed very solidly here last year, placing 7th in the twelve-man field.
Fellow-American Kevin Faires will be hot favourite to take top honours in the night’s opening event, The Nicol Stones. Having previously set the world record at the 2021 World Tour Finals, in Glasgow, with a distance of 22.20m, Faires was pushed all the way in 2022 after 3 men bettered his mark, forcing him to extend his record to 24.61m. Faires made his first Giants Live podium at that show and will be keen to put what was a somewhat disappointing showing at World’s Strongest Man behind him.
Rounding off the athlete roster from the southern hemisphere will be Australia’s Got Talent star Eddie Williams. Placing a highly creditable 6th last year, Williams impressed with not just his strength, but with his singing voice too.
Another singing sensation who will be making his Giants Live debut is Rongo Keene, who featured on New Zealand’s Idol. Known as The Warrior, he is one of the most colourful characters on the international scene. Rongo is formerly from New Zealand, and as a proud Mãori he performed a memorable haka at the 2018 World’s Strongest Man contest. Competing at Giants is something that has been an ambition of his for a few years, having told his children this was something he would achieve. Keene was the 2022 Magnús Ver Magnūsson Strongman Classic champion and holds the Australian Log Press record.