Back again with my mellow Fredy Blast discussing classic wrestling of the 70’s and 80’s and this month particularly his top 5 strongmen in the sport. So lace up your boots, make your way to the ring and lets get started.
(In no particular order)
Professional wrestler, Olympic weightlifter and strongman competitor began his wrestling career in 1973 in the AWA before moving to the Mid-Atlantic region and feuding with United States Heavyweight Champion Johnny Valentine. Patera wrestled mainly as a heel for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and American Wrestling Association (AWA) during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1977, he challenged Bruno Samartino for the WWWF Championship. This was a huge draw around the northeastern part of the United States and at Madison Square Garden, and was one of Sammartino’s last great challengers before losing the title to Superstar Billy Graham, which ended his second, shorter WWF title reign. When Bob Backlund later won the title, Patera also unsuccessfully challenged him.
The former WWF World Tag Team Champion (along with Tito Santana) began his wrestling career in 1968 and was a fixture in the Dallas-Ft.Worth wrestling scene where he won the NWA Texas Tag Team Championship with Jose Lathario twice in 1973. Putski worked in the renamed World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the 1980s, primarily feuding with Roddy Piper and Sgt. Slaughter. He took a hiatus from wrestling in 1986 but soon returned to the independent circuit, also making occasional appearances in the WWF as a jobber to the stars. His last high-profile feud was in 1984 with Jesse Ventura and his final appearance was in 1987 teaming on television with Junkyard Dog and Superstar Billy Graham in tag team matches. Aside from wrestling, Ivan Putski also competed in 1978’s a Strongman competition finishing in 8th.
Making is professional wrestling debut in 1959, he best known for his work with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF, now WWE). There, he held the WWWF Heavyweight Championship during his second reign for more than 11 years (4,040 days) across two reigns, the first of which is the longest single reign in the promotions history at 2,803 days. Called “The Italian Strongman” and “The Strongest Man in the World” early in his career, Sammartino earned the title “The Living Legend” during his lifetime. Known for his powerful bearhug finishing move, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. In 1959, Sammartino set a world record in the bench press with a lift of 565 pounds, done without elbow or wrist wraps.
Powerlifer, Olympic weightlifter, strongman and professional wrestler who currently signed to the WWE as a producer, joined the WWE in 1996 and held the European Championship as well as a two time ECW champion in 2008. He’s a two time Olympian (1992 and 1996) and a gold, silver and bronze medalist in the Pan American games in 1995. As a powerlifter, he was WDFPF World Champion (1995) and a two-time U.S. National Champion (1995 and 1997) as well as an all-time raw world record holder in the squat and deadlift. Currently, he still holds the WDFPF world records in the squat, deadlift and total and the USAPL American record in the deadlift since 1995.
Professional wrestler, actor and powerlifter who was the first person to bench press over 700 pounds in a competition which set a world record. Arcidi lifted for several years and eventually was sought by and debuted in Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation in late 1985. Arcidi faced other “strongmen” such as Tony Atlas and Hercules Hernadez during his stint and made a single appearance at WrestleMania 2 in the WWF/NFL Battle Royale. During his time in the WWF in 1986, Arcidi wrestled veteran Big John Studd at the Boston Garden. During the match, Studd was noticeably wrestling stiff and showing contempt for someone he saw as nothing more than a weightlifter with no wrestling skills who had no business being in a professional wrestling ring. Arcidi was released by the WWF upon the return of former Olympic “strongman” Ken Patera (who was returning after a 2-year stint in prison) as Vince McMahon did not want to have issues with having two men billed as the “World’s Strongest Man”.