NY Times: The Mountain from Game of Thrones Wins World’s Strongest Man Title

The Mountain is the strongest man on “Game of Thrones.” Now he’s the strongest man in the real world as well.

Hafthor Julius Bjornsson took a break from playing Gregor Clegane, the brutal warrior known as the Mountain, and won the long-running World’s Strongest Man competition on Sunday in the Philippines.

Bjornsson, 29, has been a regular in the competition and had three second- and three third-place finishes over the years, but had never previously won.

“It’s my passion and my dream to become the world’s strongest man,” he said in a 2016 profile in which he shared his workout secrets with The New York Times. “I would like to win the World’s Strongest Man competition, as you would win best writer in the world. Is that a title that exists?”

Bjornsson certainly qualifies as a figurative Mountain. He checks in at 6-feet-9-inches and 400 pounds. But he is far from the merciless monster he depicts on television. A scene in which he crushed a foe’s skull with his bare hands “actually made my heart hurt,” he said in 2014.

The World’s Strongest competition will be shown in the United States on CBS beginning in June.

Among the events Bjornsson contested this year were the Car Deadlift, the Truck Pull and a grueling Loading Race in which he hauled anchors, anvils and other heavy objects.

After the victory, Bjornsson posted a photograph of himself lifting the trophy on his Instagram account, adding “Want to thank all of my family, friends and fans for supporting me along the way.”

The World’s Strongest Man was originally a made-for-TV American-based event in the 1970s, held at Universal Studios in California. The first year included another strongman turned actor, Lou Ferrigno, who played the Incredible Hulk on TV. Ferrigno placed fourth.

The event expanded internationally after a few years and is now respected and established with a dedicated core of fans.

Iceland did well in the competition in the 1980s and ’90s: the musclemen Jon Pall Sigmarsson and Magnus ver Magnusson won 8 contests in 11 years. But no Icelander had won since 1996, until Sunday.

Bjornsson had missed out on last year’s title when one of his lifts in the Viking Press competition was disallowed. “It’s frustrating when something is taken that you’ve worked hard for,” he said.

But he had vowed to be back this year to finally claim the title. “I could not stop, I would regret it forever,” he said. “I am 28 years old today and am improving with each year.”