• 10 July, 2024

Strongman Classic 2024 Preview

Singleton, Stoltman and Hooper Return for Strongman Classic Rematch!

Giants Live’s Strongman Classic returns to a sell-out Royal Albert Hall this Saturday in what promises to be a mouthwatering showdown between the world’s top three athletes. With one of the world’s greatest venues playing host, and the cream of strength royalty in attendance, it’s hard to imagine how a Strongman contest could top this!

This year’s contest is the perfect re-match from the thrilling 2023 show, as last year’s podium all return to do battle once again! The mighty T-Rex, Evan Singleton, returns to defend his crown from Tom Stoltman and Mitchell Hooper – a titanic trio who also took the top three places at this year’s World’s Strongest Man. In fact, the top five from this year’s worlds are all competing, with no less than six finalists ready to fight it out.

Five-time Giants Live winner, Singleton, defeated the current World’s Strongest Man, Tom Stoltman, by half a point last year. Having recently placed 3rd at WSM, he has confirmed his position as one of the sport’s most talented athletes; the former WWE professional wrestler will take some stopping!

Tom Stoltman is one of the sport’s greatest champions and returns to London fresh from claiming his third world title. Having defeated the 2023 champion, Mitchel Hooper, the giant Scot will be keen to consolidate his dominance and take the Strongman Classic title he has yet to win. His appearance in London also offers fans another chance to see him face off with arch-rival, Hooper, in what has become one Strongman’s greatest rivalries.

The Moose will be satisfied with nothing less than victory on Saturday, in what will be his third appearance at the Albert Hall. Having placed 2nd in 2022, and 3rd last year, this year’s WSM runner-up will be especially keen to complete a sweep of the podium places and claim a title that has so far eluded him – a rarity in his stellar career thus far!

Rejoining his rivalry with Stoltman will doubtless provide yet more motivation for the Canadian. In May he was dethroned as WSM by the Scot, after putting up a valiant defence. The pair have traded victories for two seasons now, much to the delight of Strongman fans and the Albert Hall is a perfect setting for another thrilling head-to-head!

If any other competitor could get amongst the big three and claim a podium spot, then on current form it could be New Zealand’s Matt Ragg. Making his Strongman Classic debut, he comes into this contest off the back of a stunning 4th place finish at WSM and a 2nd place finish at the World Tour Finals last year. Finishing just behind Tom Stoltman, he beat the then World’s Strongest Man, Mitchell Hooper, into 3rd!

Tristain Hoath will be making his first ever Giants Live appearance following his incredible WSM performance, where after winning his heat, he placed 5th in the final – on his debut! The second Canadian in this contest, Hoath was victorious on the Strongman Champions League circuit earlier this year, and finished 2023 on a high with a 5-point victory over Rongo Keene at the Magnús Ver Magnússon Classic. Expect big things from this hugely talented athlete!

Pavlo Kordiyaka is the 6th WSM finalist in the line-up this year and was the 2023 Europe’s Strongest Man winner as well as a two-time World’s Strongest Man finalist. He will be making only his second appearance at the Royal Albert Hall after his 8th place showing last season. He is the world record holder in Conan’s Circle with 1009° and will be eagerly anticipating some big points in Event 3.

Pavlo will be joined in London by his Ukrainian teammate, Oleksii Novikov – a man who has done it all in strongman, including winning the Strongman Classic on two occasions! He was the 2020 World’s Strongest Man and 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man winner and has triumphed in a long list of other major contests, including victories at the Albert Hall in ‘21 and ‘22. Oleksii is always a major threat in any contest he enters but comes into this show having missed WSM due to the biceps injury he sustained at Europe’s Strongest Man.

Joining Matt Ragg from the southern hemisphere, Eddie Williams will be making his 3rd appearance at the Strongman Classic having finished 5th here last year and 6th in 2022. A two-time Australia’s Strongest Man winner and World’s Strongest Man competitor, Williams is a crowd favourite in London, having sung to the crowd last year. Well known for his appearances on Australia and America’s Got Talent, Eddie shattered the world record for the Nicol Stones last year and defeated Mark Felix in the Hercules Hold in 2022. With that kind of grip strength, he should enjoy Event 4: The Wrecking Ball Hold.

The British Isles will be represented by England’s Kane Francis, Welsh Bull Gavin Bilton, Ireland’s Pa O’Dwyer, and debutant Andrew Flynn. Kane Francis, aka, The Hurricane, storms into this competition off the back of a superb win at England’s Strongest Man. He made his first Giants appearance at the 2023 Britain’s Strongest Man where he placed an impressive 5th, a feat he repeated earlier this season. Francis made his debut at World’s Strongest Man in May and finished 4th in his group behind Kordiyaka and Singleton.

Gavin Bilton comes into this contest eager to re-establish his form after disappointment at Europe’s and World’s Strongest Man. He is a two-time Britain’s Strongest Man runner-up and multiple Wales’s Strongest Man winner. The Caerphilly athlete missed last year’s Strongman Classic but finished 8th in both 2022 and 2021. The Bull had a tremendous start to the 2024 season, having placed 2nd at Britain’s.

This will be Pa O’Dwyer’s second appearance at the Strongman Classic, having competed here in 2021, where he finished 9th. Completing the line-up is England’s Andrew Flynn who recently placed second to Francis at England’s Strongest Man. This will be his first major international competition and a massive opportunity for this talented athlete to prove himself on the biggest stage.


The Events

Five highly exacting trials of strength stand between the twelve athletes and the coveted Strongman Classic trophy. Weakness in any area will be uncovered and punished; only the most complete and all-powerful athlete will emerge victorious.

Event 1: SBD Max Axle Press 

The Axle Press is one of strongman’s key overhead lifts and provides a unique test of whole-body brute power. The discipline derives from the legendary Apollon’s Wheels that were made for the famous French strongman Louis Uni, aka Apollon the Mighty.

The 166kg train axle that Apollon used has since been surpassed by today’s strength giants. The current world record is held by Cheick “Iron Biby” Sanou, of Burkina Faso with a 217kg press that was performed at the Inaugural Strongman Classic in 2021. At this year’s WSM final, Tom Stoltman and Mitchell Hooper both achieved 210kg lifts, so there may be at least two men capable of threatening the world record.

The event will have a rising bar format: fail the lift and you’re eliminated. The axle must be fixed overhead with the athlete motionless. If the referee is satisfied a down signal is given and the lift is good. The weights of each round can be changeable but will likely start at 170kg or 375lb – a massive weight.

Event 2: Mirafit Axel Deadlift 

It’s almost impossible to win any strongman title without some considerable pulling power and this classic powerlifting discipline has long been regarded as one of the greatest tests of total body strength. The axles are much harder to lift than conventional barbells, however, being over twice as thick and having zero flex.

Mitchel Hooper won this event last year and will be hard to beat. One man to keep a close eye on is New Zealand’s Mathew Ragg who bested all-comers in this event at World’s Strongest Man in May. The athletes will lift the 360kg (794lb) axles In pairs, with a time limit of 60 seconds.

Event 3: Iveco Conan’s Wheel  

This excruciating event is as much about will power and pain tolerance as it is about strength. The 200kg load that rests across the athletes’ chests will begin to slip inexorably lower as they make their revolutions of the circle. Success in this discipline can hinge on the speed at which the athletes complete their laps before their arms and shoulders fatigue.

Last used at the 2023 World Tour Finals, Mathew Ragg finished top of the pile with 845°, besting the efforts of Hooper, both Stoltmans and even Pavlo Kordiyaka, who holds the current record with an unbelievable 1009° set at the 2022 Europe’s Strongest Man contest. Kordiyaka, however, re-asserted himself as King of Conan’s Circle at WSM earlier this year, with a winning performance in the Grand Final.

Event 4: BoohooMAN Wrecking Ball Hold

This brutal trial of strength is making only its second showing at a Giants Live contest and will see the athletes go head-to-head in pairs, with each man holding their 267kg wrecking ball off the ground for as long as their grips can withstand it. Whoever can block out the pain and hold on the longest will emerge victorious.

This event was last used at the 2023 World Open having been aired at the 2022 World’s Strongest Man. On that occasion few were surprised to see Grip God Mark Felix take top honours. Last year in Cardiff, Evan Singleton took maximum points with 75.03 seconds.

Event 5: Castle Water Stones

After four gruelling events the five granite orbs will require every last ounce of power these athletes possess, and many will not be able to load them all onto their plinths. For those challenging for the medal places, this event will be critical and is one that has provided plenty of drama over the years.

Tom Stoltman has established himself as the undisputed King of the Stones. In both Tom’s previous appearances at The Classic, he has blown the opposition out of the water. In 2021 he completed one of the fastest ever times with the 100-180kg set at 16.97s, besting his nearest rival by nearly 3.5 seconds. Last year he was no less dominate, completing all five of the heavier set (120-200kg) in just 20.29s, an astonishing 5 seconds quicker than the only other athlete to lift all five!

If the points are close, this is Tom’s banker and it’s hard to foresee any athlete establishing much of a lead in such a talented and stacked line-up!