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He squashed Oberyn Martell’s head like a tomato, became the World’s Strongest Man and lifted more than half a tonne off the ground. Now, The Mountain has a new goal: knocking out Eddie Hall.
Hafthor Bjornsson, aka Thor, is a monster of a man. After pulling 501kg in a historic deadlift, he called out former WSM Eddie Hall – whose record he’d just broken – for an all-star brawl in the boxing ring. Obviously, he accepted.
However, underneath that veneer of Herculean strength and steely-eyed rivalry lies a husband and father, with his heart firmly at home. In the fallout of conquering the world record, we chatted to Thor about the lift, going toe-to-toe with Eddie, and his plot to revive his acting career.
Cam, what’s up?
Not much, how are you?
I’m good thank you, just talking to you, ya know.
I hope you don’t mind a Scottish accent.
That’s beautiful! I love Scottish accents.
Congratulations on the lift, obviously. It’s absolutely incredible. How did it feel, right there in the moment, when you pulled that bar?
It was obviously very emotional, you know? Right after I pulled 501kg, I got very emotional. It was a big moment for myself and my family. My wife was crying, I was nearly crying, I was just super happy.
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You said you could have done more after the lift, but also noted there was ‘no point’. How much more do you reckon you could have gotten off the ground?
When the weights get this heavy, every kilogram counts. One kilo is like 10 kilos, almost. I strongly believe I could have pulled 510kg, even maybe 520kg, that’s my opinion on it. But I wanted to call it there because I didn’t want to risk an injury.
What sort of mental attitude is required for pulling more than half a tonne off the ground? How do you get into the right head space for something like that?
I think for me, you know, I’ve been doing this for more than a decade now. I’ve been working with my hands for more than a decade. Each year, I’ve been trying to get better. I always tell myself if I work hard, anything is possible. I’m a strong believer that you should put in the work every day, and think as positively as possible. That’s how I’m able to do these things.
I’m thinking about it 24/7 for weeks, for months before the lift. So when I’m there in front of the bar, it’s like my head just clears. Everything just goes away, it’s just me and the bar. My family, my daughter, my wife, those people inspire me.
In the moment, it’s almost like it’s just me and the bar. I’m in a war and I’m doing everything I can, now it’s just me and the bar, so I’m going to pull it no matter what. It’s almost like the feeling I’m pulling a car to get to my wife and child, it’s the kind of feeling like I have to do it.
You were breaking a record, specifically Eddie Hall’s record. What was more important for you in that regard: beating Eddie or doing it for yourself?
Oh it was definitely for myself. Firstly, always for myself and my family – that’s number one. Along with Eddie, some people saying I wasn’t strong enough or mentally tough enough gave me that extra inspiration to do it, you know. I had to prove them wrong, I had to show them. Mostly though, it’s about doing it for myself.
After breaking the record, what are your immediate plans?
My plan now is just to try to get better and focus on my next big goal. I have a son on the way, which is exciting.
Are you gonna raise him to be a strongman like yourself?
[Laughs] I’m gonna raise him to be a good man and he can do whatever he loves.
With a child on the way, do you have any plans of retiring, or is that far in the distance?
I haven’t made any decisions yet. I plan to compete in June if I’m still able to with the current situation in the world. Then after that, I’m going to take a break until after the fight, then I’ll have to decide if I’m going to keep doing strongman or focus on something else, maybe acting.
Lots of people have lots of different goals, but for me, I like to focus on one thing, you know? One big goal. I might have other small goals, but there’s always one big goal. If I focus on one thing and get rid of that, it usually goes well for me. For the boxing, I will try my absolute best to be in the best shape of my life. After that, who knows? We’ll see.
I’ve watched World’s Strongest Man since I was a young boy, so the prospect of two strongmen going head-to-head in the ring is insane to me – in the best possible way, of course. What drove you to make that leap and go into boxing?
To be honest with you, what inspired me most was my family and to be healthy for them. I’ve been doing strongman now for more than a decade, I started back in 2009. I’ve been heavy for a long time. I want to get lighter and healthy for my family; that mostly inspired me.
There’s the money too, it’s good to know my family will be in a good spot. So, you know, strongman has been a good journey, but it’s also very difficult to make a great living from just that.
I’ve had to do a lot of things to make a living – as well as strongman, I’ve been a full-time actor, obviously with Game of Thrones… but strongman doesn’t pay that well. Now I want to get healthier and make sure I’m here for my family for a long time.
You mentioned Game of Thrones… you have swathes of fans who know you as The Mountain as opposed to Hafthor the strongman. Are you okay with that? Would you rather be recognised for your strongman stuff?
I’m happy with either, you know? I’m just grateful for having any fans, whether it’s Game of Thrones or strongman or anything else – I’m just thankful for the support I get.
Do you have any plans to re-enter the entertainment industry in that sort of capacity, aka squashing somebody’s head into a pulp on TV?
[Laughs] I mean, now that I’m going to do this boxing I’ll be lighter. I’ll still be big, but I’ll be lighter and healthier. I’m going to do some acting this year, so that’s something I’m going to focus on as well as the boxing and my family.
Are you able to reveal any sort of projects you have in mind?
Not really, not right now.
Of the fight, I need to ask you this question: are you going to knock Eddie out?
Yeah. I’ve only been training now for a few days, but I can see myself knocking him out in the fight, for sure.
Do you have any prestige boxing talent helping to train you for the fight?
I have. A good friend of mine that’s been training boxing for more than 10 years and competed in boxing is helping me out, which is really lucky considering the circumstances. I’m training with him every day. I’m also expanding my team, getting more and more people on board, but he’s been awesome so far.
Would you ever consider going into presenting, much like Eddie has with World’s Strongest Man and other things?
I’d gladly be involved, for sure.
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Long journey ahead. I’ve been training boxing now for about a week. I need to improve my game a lot and I’m looking forward to putting in the work! This is my 6th session with @skuliarmannsson 🙌🏼 when I started this journey 10 days ago, I weighed 206kg now I’m down to 196kg. I will drop much more weight in the coming weeks and months as I work on my endurance and technique.
Last question… what’s your ultimate strongman meal?
Steak, rice, coleslaw, peppers and carrots. It has everything I need to be as strong as possible.
Thor Bjornsson is an ambassador for Reign Total Body Fuel, a new energy drink for fitness. Eddie Hall vs Hafthor Bjornsson will take place in Las Vegas in September 2021.
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