Every year dozens of refrigerator-shaped men from the four corners of the globe lift heavy stone orbs and punch logs into dust to be crowned “The World’s Strongest Man”. Which seems a little odd when you realise that according to obscure court ruling from the 80’s, anyone can legally claim to be the world’s strongest man without having to prove it.
To explain, back in 1984 powerlifter, strongman and noted dickhead, Bill Kazmaier became distraught when he turned on his TV and saw a car commercial in which another strongman called John Wooten lifted a car while proclaiming himself to be “the strongest man in the world”. Kazmaier was so offended at the thought of another man daring to claim to be stronger than him that he called up his lawyer and told him to sue the everloving fuck out of Wooten.
The crux of Kazmaier’s argument was that he was in fact the world’s strongest man because he’d won several “world’s strongest man competitions” along with setting a number of other strength based records. Wooten’s counterargument was that he could lift up a fucking truck.
In addition to this, Wooten’s lawyers argued that the term “world’s strongest man” was so inherently nebulous in its meaning that there was no real way to quantify what made one man stronger than another. Which makes sense, we mean we once talked about a guy who could effortlessly lift a half ton boat but was so physically massive he couldn’t run properly. Would it be fair to label that guy as being stronger than say, Bruce Lee who could leap 8 feet in the air and kick 350 pound footballs players across swimming pools. Okay so that’s probably a bad example, but think about it, is a guy who can lift a thousand pounds over his head stronger than a guy who can push a bus? is a guy who can bend steel bars with his hands stronger than a guy who can do 500 pull ups in a row with lead piranhas biting his nuts? This was basically the argument Wooten’s lawyers were making, that being “strong” can mean so many things that the title of world’s strongest man was meaningless.
The judge presiding over the case agreed with this sentiment and ruled that since there was no official body that crowned someone “the strongest man in the world”, the title could be claimed by anyone. Which caused Kazmaier to go absolutely apeshit. Despite the judge ruling that the concept of strength was so broad nobody could realistically claim to be the overall strongest man on Earth, Kazmaier tried to insist that he deserved the title because he’d won competitions saying he was really good at lifting heavy weights under incredibly specific circumstances. We suspect that the only reason the courtroom didn’t collapse under the weight of the irony caused by that argument is because Kazmaier immediately tried to lift it to show off.
As it turns out, Kazmaier’s arguments had less to do with Wooten’s claims and more to do with how he went about proving them. While Kazmaier had entered powerlifting tournaments and cut his teeth in strongman competitions, Wooten had gone with a more traditional approach to proving his strength by doing things like pulling trains, lifting cars and inviting people to smash concrete blocks against his engine block sized chest. Kazmaier’s apparent beef with Wooten is that Wooten was somehow “embarrassing” him by using the title of strongest man without having earned it properly. Which is probably the only time in history someone has claimed to be embarrassed after being compared to someone who could suplex a bathtub filled with ball bearings. It also painted Kazmaier as being a childish dick because his argument seemed to boil down to “the things I lifted had numbers on the side so they should count more“.
But here’s the best part, before the judge ruled that anybody could claim to be the strongest man in the world, he suggested that Kazmaier and Wooten settle the entire thing by taking part in a publicised competition to determine who was best with the proceeds going to charity after Kazmaier’s lawyer said in court, under oath that “his client could beat Wooten, or anyone else, in a test of strength“.
For some reason though, when the judge actually suggested doing this, Kazmaier decided that he didn’t want to and instead bitched about the whole thing in court before the judge threw the case out.
And that is why anyone can now claim to be “the world’s strongest man” so long as they cite KAZMAIER v. WOOTEN when they do. Isn’t the law great?