5 Arm-Wrestlers that have competed in Strongmen

With one of the greatest strongmen of all time, Brian Shaw, training to compete in arm wrestling, we’re seeing more crossover between the two sports than ever before. So today in this article, we’re going to look at five arm wrestlers who have competed in Strongman.

1. Cleve Dean

First on the list is Cleve Dean, who started in arm wrestling in the late ’70s, winning multiple world titles over the course of his career. He is largely regarded as one of the best arm wrestlers of all time.

His match against Virgil Artero in 1978 was hailed as the biggest super match of all time and was won by Cleve, earning him the unofficial title of the world’s best arm wrestler just one year into his career. 

Cleve was then invited to compete in the World’s Strongest Man in 1979 and 1980. This was a time when athletes from other sports came together to compete in strongman, which wasn’t a standalone sport back then. 

Also Read: Strongman Meets Arm Wrestling: Devon Larratt Teaches Brian Shaw the Ropes

He came in sixth in 1979 and ninth in 1980. His best events were the truck pull, which he managed to win in 1980, and the bar-bending events. Cleve apparently wasn’t even much of a gym-goer; he had natural farm strength and was a very large man, reportedly weighing as much as 500 to 600 pounds at the peak of his career.

He was an absolute beast, so it’s no surprise that he won the truck pull and bar bending. Bar bending is an event I think arm wrestlers could cross over to very well due to their extremely strong hands and wrists. Cleve was a mammoth of a man with the biggest arms and hands you have ever seen.

2. Magnus Samuelsson

Next, we have a huge name in the world of a strongman who actually started his career in arm wrestling, the one and only Magnus Samuelsson. Magnus only pulled for about four years altogether.

He won his European title in 1991 in the under 110-kilo class but then decided to focus on strongman. Magnus had some amazing strengths from his arm wrestling background, including renowned hand strength, grip strength, and particularly bicep strength, demonstrated by his ridiculous bicep curls.

He was always very good at arm-over-arm type events and is one of the few people in the world to have closed the Captains of Crush Number Four Gripper, a massive feat of strength. Magnus’s arm wrestling background majorly benefited him in the 1995 World’s Strongest Man competition, where he ended up breaking Mega Man’s arm in an arm wrestling match. This incident marked the last time arm wrestling was included in the World’s Strongest Man competition due to its danger without proper technical proficiency.

Magnus is a legendary name in strongman, having won the World’s Strongest Man in 1998 and competed 13 times, winning multiple titles worldwide. Recently, there have been videos leaked suggesting Magnus might return to arm wrestling.

3. Denis Cyplenkov

Denis Cyplenkov is one of the biggest names in the arm wrestling world. Not many people know that Denis actually competed in Strongman for a while. Denis started arm wrestling at age 14, becoming a junior champion. 

Denis Cyplenkov

He moved into strongman in 2004 and later into powerlifting. In 2008, he bench-pressed 270 kilos in a WPC powerlifting meet. His best deadlift was 340 kilos, and his best log lift was 180 kilos. 

Denis’s arm wrestling strength was also incredible, holding the strict curl world record at 113 kilos. Despite his injuries, Denis remains one of the greatest arm wrestlers of all time, with wins against almost every top arm wrestler. 

Though he suffered health issues in 2019, Denis is on the comeback trail, recently defeating John Brzenk and losing to Devon Larratt. He was supposed to pull against Hermes Gasparini recently, but injuries postponed that match.

4. Vytautas Lalas

He arm wrestled from age 17 until he was around 25, during which he became the Lithuanian arm wrestling champion. 

He won an Arm Wars competition put on by Neil Pickup before venturing into strongman. Lalas competed in his first Lithuania’s Strongest Man in 2007 and won eight international titles over his career, the biggest being the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2013.

He was very close to winning the title of World’s Strongest Man in 2012 but was stopped by the power stairs, an event that favored taller athletes. Lalas was excellent at the Atlas Stones, but the power stairs cost him the title. 

He was an absolute beast in his prime and a very good arm wrestler, training for arm wrestling again recently, though he picked up an injury at the Shaw Classic.

5. Kurt Kittiask

Last on the list is Kurt Kittiask, a two-time winner of Norway’s Strongest Man. Kurt competed in the World’s Strongest Man in 1998, a year when only the winner of each group proceeded to the final. 

Unfortunately, he didn’t make the final, finishing third in his group behind Vasil Virastyuk and Derek Boyer. Kurt went on to arm wrestling after his strongman career, becoming a two-time champion in the Grandmasters class competing for the WAF. He didn’t have a vast strongman history but did win Norway’s Strongest Man twice and compete at the World’s Strongest Man.

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