Hall of fame BILL KAZMAIER



Bill Kazmaier is not merely a strong man, but a 3-time World’s Strongest Man.

“Kaz” was the full package, matching brawn with brain to prove himself one of the most versatile strength athletes of all time. He was great at nearly every event, and supplemented his long list of talents with true grit, battling through severe injuries en route to three consecutive World’s Strongest Man championships.

This year, the man joins a small and worthy group of legendary strongmen. He enters the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame to join the company of Svend Karlsen, Mariusz Pudzianowski, and Jon Pall Sigmarsson. The addition of Bill Kazmaier onto this short list of giants, is rightfully so.

After debuting in 1979 to a 3rd-place finish, Kaz returned to absolutely dominate an even more superior field of athletes in 1980. Originally, the US-based World’s Strongest Man competition had a lack of foreign competitors, but the floodgates had opened to the planet’s best, when Kazmaier won by the widest margin in history. He was unarguably “the World’s Strongest Man”.

Watch Kaz’s interview on who he thinks is the greatest

That year, he won 6-out-of-10 events, and finished within the Top-3 of every one besides the Truck Pull. He tied second placer Lars Hedlund in the Overhead Log Lift, but crushed him in overall competition, winning by the widest margin ever – a whopping 28.5 points.

The Engine Race, Steel Bar Bend, Squat, and Deadlift, were all clear victories for Kazmaier… as was the Tug of War.

Though I grew up knowing Kaz the Commentator, in the early 1980’s, Kazmaier might have been better known as Kaz the Conqueror. He was as fierce a competitor there ever was, during an era of World’s Strongest Man where head-to-head competition was far more common.


Besides the Tug of War in 1980, there was the famous World’s Strongest Sumo in ’82. It was impressive enough that he out-wrestled the next several strongest men in the world, but the fact he did it with a severe leg injury makes the victory even more notable.

“No one knew that going into that event of wrestling, I couldn’t even walk! So, what I did was slap myself in the face, got absolutely berserk, and went into the ring against John Gamble. He was so scared by the facial expressions I was making, he ran out of the ring.” – Bill Kazmaier

Of course, in concert with his intimidating facial expressions, Kazmaier had a reputation of indomitable strength, a bulging musculature, and enough explosive energy to ward off even his most determined foes.

Bill Kazmaier combined his many talents to win three consecutive WSM titles: 1980, ‘81, and ‘82. But he did not compete in the competition when it left America, because he wasn’t invited.

Many believe Kaz would have won the World’s Strongest Man title throughout the mid-1980’s had he been allowed to compete against Geoff Capes and Jon Pall Sigmarsson in his prime.

Geoff Capes finished beneath Kaz in each of the three years he competed. In 1984, without Bill there to hold the line, Capes won the first of his two WSM championships, trading victories with Jon Pall Sigmarsson over the next four years during Kazmaier’s absence. He was humble enough to share this quote in the documentary 30 Years of Pain:

“To me, on a pound-for-pound level, at that time, [Bill Kazmaier] was probably the strongest man in the world.” – 1983 & 1985 World’s Strongest Man, Geoff Capes.

It will always be up for debate whether Kazmaier could have won more than three-in-a-row, but his resume doesn’t need the embellishment.

“Bill Kazmaier believed that he was the World’s Strongest Man. He ate it, lived it, slept it, dreamed it, breathed it. Bill Kazmaier probably was one of the strongest or is one of the strongest guys ever.” – 2006 World’s Strongest Man, Phil Pfister.

What Bill Kazmaier accomplished in strongman will last the test of time, and his legacy shall be proudly shared in the World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame for years to come. He has been, and will continue to be an inspiration for strength athletes the world over.

Watch Svend Karlsen welcome Bill Kazmaier into the WSM Hall of Fame

This post was written by Dane Curley