Who was Jon Pall Sigmarsson?
Jon Pall Sigmarsson was an Icelandic powerlifter, strongman, and bodybuilder. He was the first man to win the title of the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ four times. Born in a village in Iceland, he was very active during his childhood. During his early days, he worked as a farmhand, and played football, karate, and swimming. Sigmarsson started his weightlifting training at a young age. In power lifting, he attained commendable feats in all three categories - bench press, deadlift, and squat. In his first year at the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ event, he won the runner-up title. In the following year, he bounced back to win the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ title. Sigmarsson won this title for four years, and became the first man to achieve this feat. He won several other championships, such as ‘World Muscle Power Championship’ and ‘IPF World Powerlifting Championship.’ He was second runner-up (3rd position) in the IPF World Powerlifting Championship. When he was at the peak of his career, He suffered an aortic rupture while deadlifting in his gym. He died on the spot. He is remembered as one of the greatest strongmen.
Childhood & Personal Life
Jon Pall Sigmarsson was born on April 28, 1960, in Hafnarfjordur (Hafnarfjörður), Iceland, toSigmar Jonsson, and Dora Jonsdottir. . He was a robust kid, right from the time of his birth. Sigmarsson was raised by his mother, and foster father, Sveinn Guomundsson. Although Sigmarsson spent his early childhood in villages, his family relocated to the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik, when he was nine years old.
He worked as a farmhand during his childhood. He assisted his foster father in carrying pails of water, and in seal hunts. He was trained in the traditional Icelandic wrestling, Glima. He was competent in swimming and karate, and also played football and handball.
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In 1976, Sigmarsson was introduced to powerlifting. In 1978, he started training at Jakabol. It was only in the 1980s that he started competing in professional championships. He held Icelandic records for all categories of powerlifting, such as bench press, deadlifting, and squat. His best performances came in the deadlift category. He had set European records, too, in this category.
In 1980 and 1981, he won the second position in the ‘European Powerlifting Championship.’ In 1980, he won the ‘Icelandic Olympic Weightlifting Championship,’ too. In 1983, he was crowned the winner at the ‘European Powerlifting Championship.’ In 1981, he was named ‘Icelandic Sportsperson of the Year.’
In 1983, Jon Pall Sigmarsson participated in the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition. In this event, he lost the first place to Geoff Capes. In the same year, he participated in ‘Europe’s Strongest Man’ championship, and won the third position. In 1984, he defeated Capes, to claim the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ title.
In 1984, Sigmarsson entered the ‘Icelandic Bodybuilding Championship.’ He cut down his body weight in order to prepare for the championship. He won the title in the +90 kg category. It was a rare achievement to win both bodybuilding title and strongman title, in the same year.
In 1985, he lost the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ title to Geoff Capes. In the same year, he won the ‘World Muscle Power Championship.’ He was also crowned as ‘Europe’s Strongest Man.’ Sigmarsson won the title of ‘Iceland’s Strongest Man’ for three consecutive years, from 1985 to 1987. After a gap of two years, he regained the title for the next three consecutive years, from 1990 to 1992.
In 1986, Sigmarsson won the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ and ‘Europe’s Strongest Man’ title for the second time. In the same year, he won the ‘World Muscle Power Championship,’ too, for the second time. In 1987, he competed in the ‘Pure Strength’ competition, where he competed with many-time winners, such as Geoff Capes and Bill Kazmaier. He won the competition.
In 1988, he won the title of the ‘World’s Strongest Man.’ However, at the ‘World Muscle Power Championship,’ he had to remain content with a third position. In the same year, he claimed the second spot at the ‘Europe’s Strongest Man’ competition.
In 1990, he again won the title of the ‘World’s Strongest Man,’ becoming the first man to win the title four times. In 1989, 1990 and 1991, he won the ‘World Muscle Power Championship,’ too. In 1990, Sigmarsson was placed at the fourth position in the ‘Europe’s Strongest Man’ competition. During this period, he was troubled by several injuries, which affected his performance.
Personal Life & Legacy
Jon Pall Sigmarsson died on January 16, 1993, at the age of 32. While training for a deadlift in his gym, he suffered an aortic rupture. He collapsed and died on the spot. It was reported that his death was due to a congenital heart defect that affected several other members of his family.
He has a son, Sigmar Freyr, from Ragnheiour Sverrisdottir. He was known to be aggressive on court, but soft-spoken outside the court. He was much disciplined about his training and diet.
In 2012, Jon Pall Sigmarsson was inducted into the ‘World’s Strongest Man Hall of Fame.’ A documentary titled ‘Larger than Life’ was made on the life of Sigmarsson.
Sigmarsson was known for his aggressive quotes while performing. After his first win at the ‘World’s Strongest Man,’ he shouted, “The king has lost his crown,” referring to his opponent. After winning another prestigious title, he shouted the words, “There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift.” This is his most famous quote.