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Uplifting message provided by former World's Strongest Man

January 31, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - For anyone wondering where the beef was Thursday, it was at the YMCA in Waynesboro talking to a bunch of kids about what it was like to be the strongest man in the world.

Bill Kazmaier, who won the title of World's Strongest Man in 1980 and 1981, hasn't picked up a barbell in competition in about 10 years. These days, he's on the road talking to kids and adults about his days of glory and preaching the Word. He calls himself a part-time evangelist and ambassador of fitness.

Kazmaier, whose biceps are bigger than most guy's thighs, spoke to about 60 youngsters at the YMCA and wowed them with some of his feats of strengths.


He bent a 10-inch long, half-inch thick steel carriage bolt into a U. He twisted a 30-inch long, half-inch steel rod into the shape of a fish and after some struggling and a lot of grunting, he rolled up a metal frying pan like most of us would roll up a newspaper. He later smashed five pine boards with the heel of his right hand.

He laces his presentations with a healthy portion of religion, repeating that his power was not his own, that it came from the Lord.

Kazmaier, 49, who weighs more than 300 pounds and stands 6-feet, 2-inches tall, spends about 200 days a year on the road. He spoke at the Otterbein Ministry Center in Waynesboro Wednesday night.

In his prime, his chest measured 60 inches and his biceps 23 inches. In those days, he weighed in at 350 pounds.

According to his biography, Kazmaier won the junior and senior National Powerlifting championships in 1978. Two years later, he earned the World's Strongest Man title. He has broken more than 16 world strength records including bench pressing 661 pounds, deadlifting 887 pounds and curling 400-pound barbells.

His biography shows a life that Paul Bunyon would admire. He worked as an oil rigger, lumberjack and a bouncer in a bar. He wrestled professionally, was a strength and conditioning coach at Auburn University in Alabama and tried out for the National Football League's Green Bay Packers.

"It's not the size of a man's arms or his chest or how strong he is that shows he's a real man," Kazmaier said. "It's how he treats those around him. A real man wants to be good to people and serve the Lord."

He said he tries to be humble and share his talents with others. "I was fortunate to find the thing in my life that I was supposed to do."

He said he represents five different companies, from fitness equipment makers to specialty foods. He was at the YMCA Thursday representing the Strive Strength Co., makers of a patented line of fitness equipment that the YMCA installed in September.

Chad Eberhart, director of adult programs at the YMCA, said an adult using the equipment for 20 minutes twice a week can double his or her strength in two months

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