Man of steel

Story by Stacey Almond | Photo by Joseph Almond

Fir Vale resident Paul Smith beat off tough competition in July to become England’s Strongest Man 2016. A former student of Firs Hill and Parkwood schools, at 21 Paul is the youngest ever winner of the title and he spoke to the Messenger about his achievement.

Story by Stacey Almond | Photo by Joseph Almond
Story by Stacey Almond | Photo by Joseph Almond

When I was 14 my dad got me some weights for my birthday. In year 11 I started going to Flex Fitness at Southey Green – I was getting stronger than a lot of other people there including my mates and older people. I got talking to a man who trained people for Strongman and entered a competition at Stocksbridge. I came last, but enjoyed it and it made me determined to improve. I was usually the youngest at the competitions and often competing against fully grown men. My strongest event is lifting things above my head. You get to lift some cool stuff!

I train every day, sometimes twice a day. I do my strongman event training work at the weekend: car lifts and tyre flips, with gym lifting, cardio and conditioning work during the week. Strongman is quite varied so you have to be fit and fast. I don’t eat anything too fancy or different to anyone else. I’m quite light for a strongman, so before a competition I’m trying to get as heavy as possible, getting as many calories and as much protein as I can. I get a lot of guys in the pub wanting to test themselves and arm-wrestle with me. And I do get people asking me to move stuff – they get carried away and think I’m the Incredible Hulk and can lift a car above my head with one hand! I used to be shy and introverted, but sport changed that. I do break a lot of furniture though – I’ve broken about eight computer chairs!

Vital statistics

• Height: 5”10

• Weight: 130kg or 20.5 stone

• Arm circumference: 21 inches

• Maximum weight lifted: 360kg deadlift and 195kg atlas stone

Following our interview, Paul went to Ottawa to compete in the Junior World’s Strongest Man – he came second, coming closer to his ambition of becoming the World’s Strongest Man.